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Evolution of Android OS: The Biggest Mobile Operating System

  • Ashesh Anand
  • Apr 10, 2022
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On our Android devices, it sometimes feels like we've been using Google's mobile OS for a long time. The first official Android phone, on the other hand, was released barely over a decade ago. 


Google's decision to make Android an open-source operating system was a watershed moment in Android's history. As a result, it became quite popular among third-party phone manufacturers. Android 1.0 was released just a few years ago, and handsets running the new OS were all over the place.


Android has evolved graphically, philosophically, and functionally a number of times since its initial release. Google's mobile operating system may have started out shabby, but it has come a long way since then. Android is now the most popular platform for mobile apps. Furthermore, Android is used to power smart TVs, automobiles, and wearables, in addition to smartphones and tablets. 


We are now on Android 12 after 13 years. The OS has surpassed Android as the most popular mobile operating system in the world. Symbian, BlackBerry, Palm OS, webOS, and Windows Phone have all been vanquished by it (many of which have died along the way). Apple's iOS is the only platform that can compete with Android on a meaningful level. That situation does not appear to be changing anytime soon.


The Evolution Of Android Versions


While working for Google, Irina Blok designed the now-famous Android OS logo. It's like a cross between a robot and a green insect. Blok claims that the only instruction she received from the Google design team was to make the logo look like a robot. 


Blok also mentioned that the popular restroom emblems symbolizing "Men" and "Women" were one of her inspirations for the final design for the Android mascot.


One of the decisions made by Blok and Google was to make the Android robot an open-source project. Almost every other major corporation would safeguard a logo or mascot from being redesigned. 


However, because Google's Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution License allows for such tweaks, a large number of people have altered Android's logo. In 2019, the Android mascot — commonly known as "Andy" — was redesigned, along with much of Android's branding. Andy's body may have vanished, but the new design has become much more ingrained in Android's branding.


The android version history extends back to 2004, when the Android operating system was first released. At the time, he had competitors in the form of the Symbian and Windows Mobile operating systems, both of which were well-known at the time due to their early launches. 


Andy Rubin and his associates were unable to secure funding. Finally, Android received a $10,000 donation from Steve Perlman, a friend of Andy Rubin's who wished to support him. Google paid $50 million to acquire Android Inc. in July 2005.


Apple produced an iPhone with a Smartphone design in 2007, which was a new revolution in the use of touch screen technologies. In 2008, several competitors released their first touchscreen Smartphone. Not wanting to fall behind its competitors, Google introduced the HTC Dream or T-Mobile G1 in 2008, which was the world's first Android phone.


Andy Rubin is the founder of the Android operating system, but it was eventually acquired by the Google team, which has been providing incredible enhancements and conducting daily research on new features ever since. It has also received a number of Android updates since its first release.


Below we have discussed the evolution of Android OS over the years :


  1. Android 1.0


On September 23, 2008, the first commercial version of Android, known as Android 1.0, was released. Android 1.0 was released to the public in 2008, and it was so old that it didn't even have a catchy codename. 


Android 1.0 introduced capabilities such as an internet browser, camera, Gmail synchronization with the Gmail application, YouTube, Google Maps, and Calendar synchronization, despite being the initial version.


The Android Market had these apps available for download. On February 9, 2009, Android 1.1 was released, including new functionality and a few bug patches. On April 27, 2009, Android 1.5 (Cupcake) was released, followed by Android 1.6 on September 15, 2009. These versions were published every three months and were mostly focused on bug fixes.


  1. Android 1.5 Cupcake


Not only did the first major Android upgrade get a new version number, but it was also the first to employ Google's dessert-themed naming scheme. Cupcake was notable for a number of reasons, the most important of which was that it was the first Android version to include an on-screen keyboard. Manufacturers had to include physical keyboards on their devices before that.


The widgets are up next. Widgets were supported in earlier versions of Android, but third-party developers couldn't create and implement them. With Cupcake, Google made the widgets SDK available to third-party developers, which was a huge step forward. Many software developers now provide at least one widget with their product. Is it possible to conceive a world without video? 


Android did not support video capture prior to Cupcake, so users with older versions of Android could only take images. Cupcake, thankfully, changed all of that. Android's first official public codename didn't exist until version 1.5 Cupcake was released in April 2009. 


Project manager Ryan Gibson has typically been credited with naming Android versions after sweets. His motivations for employing such a name practice, however, are unknown.


When compared to the prior two public versions, Cupcake has a lot of new features and improvements. Things like the ability to post videos to YouTube, a means for phones' displays to rotate automatically, and support for third-party keyboards are examples of what we now take for granted.


  1. Android 1.6 Donut


Users of Android Donut received a huge update, even more so than the 0.1 version number increase suggests. Donut, for example, helped bring Android to millions more users by introducing support for CDMA networks like Verizon, Sprint, and a number of major Asian networks.


Donut was designed to make Android more user-friendly, but the most significant changes were hidden beneath the hood. Donut, for example, was the first Android version to support several screen sizes, allowing manufacturers to make devices with whatever display sizes they chose while still running Android.


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  1. Android 2.0 Eclair


On October 26, 2009, Android released Éclair, the company's second significant version. The main draw was Microsoft Exchange email functionality, as well as the ability to view messages from many accounts in the same inbox.


Text messages have also been improved, allowing customers to read over earlier texts and MMS messages, as well as making typing responses faster. Real-time upgrades to the camera application include flash functionality, various zoom options, shading effects, and focus mode. 


The Android Eclair internet browser has also been updated for the new operating system. Google enhanced the browser with HTML5 compatibility and the ability to play movies, putting Eclair on level with the iPhone, the ultimate mobile internet device at the time. 


On December 3, 2009, Android 2.0.1 was released, followed by Android 2.1 on January 12, 2010, both of which included modest improvements and bug fixes. On May 20, 2010, the next major release was scheduled. Froyo was the name given to it. This version included a number of performance enhancements. Android 2.2 featured USB tethering and Wifi hotspot capabilities.


  1. Android 2.2 Froyo


Four months after the release of Android 2.1, Google released Android 2.2, Froyo, which focused mostly on under-the-hood performance enhancements.


The addition of the now-standard dock at the bottom of the home screen, as well as the first incarnation of Voice Actions, which allowed you to perform basic functions like getting directions and taking notes by tapping an icon and then speaking a command, were both key front-facing features in Froyo. 


The Nexus One, the first smartphone to bear Google's Nexus branding, arrived with Android 2.1 out of the box in early 2010, but received an over-the-air update to Froyo later that year. This was a first for Google, with the corporation collaborating more closely than ever before with HTC to display pure Android.


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  1. Android 2.3 Gingerbread


The Gingerbread upgrade for Android OS was published by Google in 2010. For smartphones, the upgrade introduced a sleeker UI. It also began to enable Near-Field Communication capabilities. The update also included a task manager shortcut to the home screen and started supporting the front-facing camera. 


This time, Google went with the Samsung-made Nexus S. One phone, however, is based on Samsung's hugely successful Galaxy S. Another notable Android update was Gingerbread, which featured a makeover of Android's stock widgets and home screen.


Gingerbread also had an enhanced keyboard with new key coloring and improved multitouch functionality, which allowed users to access a secondary keyboard by pressing several keys. Finally, Gingerbread now has compatibility for the front-facing camera.


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  1. Android 3.0 Honeycomb


Honeycomb was an interesting release simply because it targeted tablets. Google had been making waves in the smartphone business for a few years, which made it an exciting release. It was even shown off on a Motorola phone that would later become the Xoom.


Honeycomb revealed a few design elements that would appear in future Android versions. Instead of using the traditional green Android color to highlight the operating system, Google went for blue accents. Furthermore, rather than having to choose home screen widgets from a plain list where you couldn't see what they looked like, previews for individual widgets were provided. 


The fact that Honeycomb did away with the physical button was perhaps the most significant change. Instead, the programme provided virtual buttons for the home, back, and menu buttons, which could be hidden or visible depending on the application.


Honeycomb was supposed to provide capabilities that couldn't be handled by the tiny displays available on smartphones at the time. It was also a reaction by Google and its third-party partners to Apple's iPad launch in 2010. Despite the availability of Honeycomb, certain tablets were still released with Android 2.x versions based on smartphones.


 Honeycomb was ultimately a version of Android that did not gain widespread adoption. The majority of Google's innovations will be included in the next major 4.0 release, Ice Cream Sandwich. In the history of Android, it's a bit of an oddball.


  1. Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich


Ice Cream Sandwich, which was also introduced in 2011, served as the platform's official entry into the era of modern design, with Honeycomb serving as the platform's bridge from old to new. The update improved on Honeycomb's design concepts and brought tablets and phones together under a single, unified UI vision.


The "holographic" appearance of Honeycomb was lost in ICS, although the usage of blue as a system-wide highlight was retained. It also retained key system features like on-screen buttons and a card-like look for app switching. 


The Nexus S was a fantastic phone, but it wasn't the pinnacle of Google's Samsung cooperation. The two collaborated once more with the debut of the Galaxy Nexus, which used Ice Cream Sandwich, a smartphone operating system that brought many of Honeycomb's features to the device.


The operating system included the virtual buttons indicated above, as well as a revised and polished UI with blue highlights. Face unlock, data consumption analysis, and new mail and calendar apps were among the tiny features included in the upgrade.


  1. Android 4.1 Jelly Bean


Android 4.1 Jelly Bean was released on July 9, 2012, with the primary goal of improving the user interface in terms of both features and performance. Graphics were given extra attention, and technology was included to allow the interface to run at 60 frames per second for a smooth and responsive experience.


Multi-channel support, unlimited playback, and USB audio all increased sound quality. Third-party apps were also given better features, allowing users to customize their experience. 


You might have seen some substantial changes if you had probed a little deeper. The most notable of them was Google Now, which could be accessed with a short swipe from the home screen and displayed information such as calendar appointments, emails, and weather forecasts all in one place. Google's first big attempt at a digital assistant, the feature provided the framework for subsequent iterations of digital assistants, including Google Assistant.


  1. Android 4.4 KitKat


The Nexus 5 was released at the same time as Android 4.4 KitKat, and it came with a slew of new features. KitKat, for example, was one of the most important visual modifications to Android to date, modernizing the look of the operating system. Ice Cream Sandwich and Jellybean's blue accents were replaced with a more refined white accent, and some revised Android stock apps featured lighter color palettes.


Aside from a fresh design, KitKat introduced features such as the "OK, Google" search phrase, which let users access Google Now at any time. It also included a new phone dialer, full-screen apps, and a new Hangouts app with SMS compatibility as well as Hangouts chat platform integration.


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  1. Android 5.0 and 5.1 Lollipop


With the introduction of Android 5.0 Lollipop in the fall of 2014, Google fundamentally revamped Android once more. With Lollipop, Google introduced the still-in-use Material Design standard, which gave Android, its apps, and even other Google products a completely new look.


The card-based concept that had been strewn over Android became a primary UI design, guiding the appearance of everything from notifications, which now appeared on the lock screen for quick access, to the Recent Apps list, which took on an unapologetically card-based appearance. 


Other improvements to the UI include a redesigned navigation bar, rich notifications for the lock screen, and more. The Android 5.1 upgrade included a few more under-the-hood tweaks. Official dual-SIM compatibility, HD Voice calls, and Device Protection to keep criminals out of your phone even after a factory reset were all included.


The Nexus 6 smartphone and Nexus 9 tablet were the first devices to come preloaded with Lollipop.

The image depicts all the android versions released till now along with their release dates starting from Android 1 to Android 12.

List of all Android versions with their Release dates

  1. Android 6 Marshmallow


In May 2015, at the Google I/O conference, Android 6 Marshmallow was publicly announced, and it became available for various devices in October 2015.


A new feature dubbed "Now on Tap" uses search history to deliver contextual search results, making them more relevant. It also received a fantastic battery management update. The app menu, in particular, has been nearly completely overhauled. For example, Google adopted a white background instead of black and added a search bar to assist customers discover the app they needed quickly. 


The memory manager was also included in Android Marshmallow, allowing you to see the memory utilization of any app you've used in the last 3, 6, 12, or 24 hours. Adoptable Storage is a new feature that allows you to use your micro SD card while still having your device treat it as internal storage. Marshmallow has improved fingerprint unlocking and USB Type-C compatibility.


Google's Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X smartphones were the first to launch with Marshmallow pre-installed. It was also available on the Google Pixel C tablet.


  1. Android 7.0 Nougat


Google's mobile operating system, version 7.0, was released in the fall of 2016. Google internally dubbed Android N "New York Cheesecake" before the release of Nougat. Better multitasking functions for the growing number of devices with larger displays, such as split-screen mode and rapid switching between apps, were among Nougat's numerous new features.


The unveiling of the Google Assistant, which coincided with the announcement of Google's first wholly self-made phone, the Pixel, around two months after Nougat's release, was perhaps the most important of Nougat's improvements. 


The Assistant would go on to become an important part of Android and most other Google products, and is now perhaps the company's most important project. Nougat has an inline reply feature for messages and notifications, so you won't have to open your Messenger app to respond quickly.

  1. Android 8.0 Oreo


Android Oreo pushed the Android platform up to version 8.0, and also included a slew of new multitasking features. Picture-in-picture and native split-screen were both included in Android Oreo, allowing you to watch your favorite Netflix show while browsing the web.


Notifications were also given a lot more power in Android Oreo. Users may set notification channels on or off in Oreo, allowing them to be quite specific about which alerts display and how they appear. Notification channels, in particular, allowed users to prioritize notifications. 


Oreo introduced notification dots and the option to snooze alerts, both of which are connected to notifications. Google disclosed the public name for Android 8.0, which is inspired by cookies, in August.


 It was the company's second time choosing a trademarked name for Android (Nabisco owns Oreo). In a departure from convention, Google debuted the Android Oreo mascot statue at a press conference in New York City. Later that day, a second statue was constructed at Google's main headquarters.


The Settings menu in Android Oreo has a number of cosmetic changes. Picture-in-picture mode was also supported natively, as were notification channels, new autofill APIs for easier password and fill data handling, and much more. Google's Pixel 2 phones were the first to receive Android Oreo. 


Oreo also had a few additional minor features. For example, Google dropped the blob emoji style and replaced it with emojis that were more in line with other platforms. Oreo also included features like Wi-Fi auto-enable, a smart text selection, and more.


  1. Android 9 Pie


In August of 2018, the aroma of freshly baked Android Pie, a.k.a. Android 9, wafted into the Android ecosystem. 


The most significant change in Pie was the introduction of a hybrid gesture/button navigation system that replaced Android's standard Back, Home, and Overview keys with a large, multifunctional Home button and a small Back button that appeared alongside it as needed.


A universal suggested-reply system for message notifications, a new dashboard of Digital Wellbeing controls, and more intelligent algorithms for power and screen brightness management were all included in Pie's productivity features. 


A smarter approach to handle Wi-Fi hotspots, a welcome variation on Android's Battery Saver mode, and a range of privacy and security changes were among the minor but still substantial advancements concealed throughout Pie's filling.


  1. Android 10 Q


Another key Android history milestone was reached ten years after the OS's inception. On March 13, 2019, Google released the first official developer preview of Android Q. Google announced a substantial update of the Android brand on August 22, 2019. 


This included a new logo and, more critically, the decision to change the name of the desert for the following version. As a result, Android Q was renamed Android 10 when it was released. It became available for Google's Pixel devices on September 3, 2019.


Android 10 introduced a slew of new features and enhancements, as well as a slew of new APIs. This featured support for the oncoming wave of foldable phones. A system-wide dark mode, as well as new gesture navigation controls, a more efficient sharing menu, smart reply features for all messaging apps, and more control over app-based permissions, were all included in Android 10.


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  1. Android 11 R


Android 11 was released in 2020 and included smart device support. Furthermore, the update added message notifications as well as the ability to screen them without having to open the programme. 


You may also make apps request permissions every time you use them with the new update. Apps will be unable to access data indefinitely in this manner. Permissions for apps that haven't been used in months are also revoked. 


Installed apps on Android 11 are also unable to see what other apps are installed on the user's phone. For supporting apps, Android 11 added the Bubble functionality, which allowed users to access discussions from the floating icon.


Without the use of a third-party app, you may now record your phone's screen, complete with audio. Android 11 also has a new area dedicated to controlling smart home devices. Pixel phones, on the other hand, will gain an Android 11 feature that is only available on Pixel phones. It controls which apps display on your phone's dock using AI and machine learning.


To commemorate the launch of Android 11, Google erected a regular statue, but it also published an AR version of the statue for all Android ARCore phones. It even has a few Easter Eggs, such as a recipe for red velvet cake. That's also Google's internal codename for the operating system.


  1. Android 12 S


Android 12, the most recent (as of this writing) version of the operating system, was released as a Developer Preview version on February 18th. Despite the fact that the OS's internal code name was "Snow cone," the software version was simply dubbed "Android 12."


On October 19, 2021, Android 12 was released alongside the Pixel 6 series. The user interface has been completely overhauled, which is perhaps the most significant update in this software version. Google went back to the drawing board in order to design a more dynamic and relatable user interface. It's known as Material You.


Throughout the Android experience, you combine multiple aspects into a single design language. For example, the user interface can pull colors from your background and utilize them to theme the remainder of the experience. Widgets are more user-friendly and flexible to their surroundings. 


For easy access, Quick Settings were reorganized into larger tiles. The Settings menu has been redesigned with a larger font and a cleaner appearance. There are additional animations that are more fluid.


There are a slew of additional minor enhancements as well. Scrollable screenshots, prettier notifications, App Search, simpler Wi-Fi sharing with Nearby Share, One-handed mode, audio selection access from the media player, and more are among the new features.


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Future of Android


Android has come a long way from its conception as an advanced operating system for digital cameras to its current position as the main smartphone operating system. There were difficulties at first. Except for IOS, Android has now wiped out all of its competitors, including Windows, Blackberry, and Nokia. 


There is no doubt that IOS is here to stay, but Android still has the majority of the smartphone OS market share. New features are added and enhancements are made with each release. Android is rapidly evolving, and it does not appear that any other operating system will threaten its dominance in the future.

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