What a protracted, unusual journey it has been.
From its inaugural launch to as we speak, Android has reworked visually, conceptually and functionally — time and time once more. Google’s cell working system could have began out scrappy, however holy moly, has it ever advanced.
Here’s a fast-paced tour of Android model highlights from the platform’s beginning to current.
Android variations 1.zero to 1.1: The early days
Android made its official public debut in 2008 with Android 1.zero — a launch so historical it did not actually have a cute codename.
Things had been fairly fundamental again then, however the software program did embrace a collection of early Google apps like Gmail, Maps, Calendar and YouTube, all of which had been built-in into the working system — a stark distinction to the extra simply updatable standalone-app mannequin employed as we speak.
Android model 1.5: Cupcake
With early 2009’s Android 1.5 Cupcake launch, the custom of Android model names was born. Cupcake launched quite a few refinements to the Android interface, together with the primary on-screen keyboard — one thing that’d be obligatory as telephones moved away from the once-ubiquitous bodily keyboard mannequin.
Cupcake additionally introduced in regards to the framework for third-party app widgets, which might rapidly flip into considered one of Android’s most distinguishing components, and it offered the platform’s first-ever possibility for video recording.
Android model 1.6: Donut
Android 1.6, Donut, rolled into the world within the fall of 2009. Donut stuffed in some essential holes in Android’s middle, together with the power for the OS to function on quite a lot of completely different display sizes and resolutions — an element that’d be important within the years to come back. It additionally added help for CDMA networks like Verizon, which might play a key position in Android’s imminent explosion.
Android variations 2.zero to 2.1: Eclair
Keeping up the breakneck launch tempo of Android’s early years, Android 2.zero Eclair, emerged simply six weeks after Donut; its “point-one” replace, additionally referred to as Eclair, got here out a pair months later. Eclair was the primary Android launch to enter mainstream consciousness because of the unique Motorola Droid cellphone and the huge Verizon-led advertising marketing campaign surrounding it.
The launch’s most transformative component was the addition of voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation and real-time site visitors information — one thing beforehand extraordinary (and nonetheless basically unmatched) within the smartphone world. Navigation apart, Eclair introduced stay wallpapers to Android in addition to the platform’s first speech-to-text operate. And it made waves for injecting the once-iOS-exclusive pinch-to-zoom functionality into Android — a transfer usually seen because the spark that ignited Apple’s long-lasting “thermonuclear war” towards Google.
Android model 2.2: Froyo
Just 4 months after Android 2.1 arrived, Google served up Android 2.2, Froyo, which revolved largely round under-the-hood efficiency enhancements.
Froyo did ship some essential front-facing options, although, together with the addition of the now-standard dock on the backside of the house display in addition to the primary incarnation of Voice Actions, which allowed you to carry out fundamental capabilities like getting instructions and making notes by tapping an icon after which talking a command.
Notably, Froyo additionally introduced help for Flash to Android’s internet browser — an possibility that was important each due to the widespread use of Flash on the time and due to Apple’s adamant stance towards supporting it by itself cell units. Apple would ultimately win, in fact, and Flash would turn into far much less frequent. But again when it was nonetheless in every single place, with the ability to entry the total internet with none black holes was a real benefit solely Android might supply.
Android model 2.three: Gingerbread
Android’s first true visible identification began coming into focus with 2010’s Gingerbread launch. Bright inexperienced had lengthy been the colour of Android’s robotic mascot, and with Gingerbread, it turned an integral a part of the working system’s look. Black and inexperienced seeped all around the UI as Android began its sluggish march towards distinctive design.
Android three.zero to three.2: Honeycomb
2011’s Honeycomb interval was a bizarre time for Android. Android three.zero got here into the world as a tablet-only launch to accompany the launch of the Motorola Xoom, and thru the following three.1 and three.2 updates, it remained a tablet-exclusive (and closed-source) entity.
Under the steerage of newly arrived design chief Matias Duarte, Honeycomb launched a dramatically reimagined UI for Android. It had a space-like “holographic” design that traded the platform’s trademark inexperienced for blue and positioned an emphasis on profiting from a pill’s display house.
While the idea of a tablet-specific interface did not final lengthy, lots of Honeycomb’s concepts laid the groundwork for the Android we all know as we speak. The software program was the primary to make use of on-screen buttons for Android’s major navigational instructions; it marked the start of the top for the everlasting overflow-menu button; and it launched the idea of a card-like UI with its tackle the Recent Apps record.
Android model four.zero: Ice Cream Sandwich
With Honeycomb performing because the bridge from previous to new, Ice Cream Sandwich — additionally launched in 2011 — served because the platform’s official entry into the period of recent design. The launch refined the visible ideas launched with Honeycomb and reunited tablets and telephones with a single, unified UI imaginative and prescient.
ICS dropped a lot of Honeycomb’s “holographic” look however stored its use of blue as a system-wide spotlight. And it carried over core system components like on-screen buttons and a card-like look for app-switching.
Android four.zero additionally made swiping a extra integral methodology of getting across the working system, with the then-revolutionary-feeling skill to swipe away issues like notifications and up to date apps. And it began the sluggish strategy of bringing a standardized design framework — generally known as “Holo” — all all through the OS and into Android’s app ecosystem.
Android variations four.1 to four.three: Jelly Bean
Spread throughout three impactful Android variations, 2012 and 2013’s Jelly Bean releases took ICS’s contemporary basis and made significant strides in fine-tuning and constructing upon it. The releases added loads of poise and polish into the working system and went a great distance in making Android extra inviting for the common person.
Visuals apart, Jelly Bean led to our first style of Google Now — the spectacular predictive-intelligence utility that is sadly since devolved right into a glorified information feed. It gave us expandable and interactive notifications, an expanded voice search system and a extra superior system for displaying search outcomes normally, with a deal with card-based outcomes that tried to reply questions immediately.
Multiuser help additionally got here into play, albeit on tablets solely at this level, and an early model of Android’s Quick Settings panel made its first look. Jelly Bean ushered in a closely hyped system for putting widgets in your lock display, too — one which, like so many Android options over time, quietly disappeared a pair years later.
Android model four.four: KitKat
Late-2013’s KitKat launch marked the top of Android’s darkish period, because the blacks of Gingerbread and the blues of Honeycomb lastly made their means out of the working system. Lighter backgrounds and extra impartial highlights took their locations, with a clear standing bar and white icons giving the OS a extra up to date look.
Android four.four additionally noticed the primary model of “OK, Google” help — however in KitKat, the hands-free activation immediate labored solely when your display was already on and you had been both at your property display or contained in the Google app.
The launch was Google’s first foray into claiming a full panel of the house display for its companies, too — at the least, for customers of its personal Nexus telephones and those that selected to obtain its first-ever standalone launcher.
Android variations 5.zero and 5.1: Lollipop
Google basically reinvented Android — once more — with its Android 5.zero Lollipop launch within the fall of 2014. Lollipop launched the still-present-today Material Design commonplace, which introduced a complete new look that prolonged throughout all of Android, its apps and even different Google merchandise.
The card-based idea that had been scattered all through Android turned a core UI sample — one that will information the looks of every thing from notifications, which now confirmed up on the lock display for at-a-glance entry, to the Recent Apps record, which took on an unabashedly card-based look.
Lollipop launched a slew of recent options into Android, together with really hands-free voice management by way of the “OK, Google” command, help for a number of customers on telephones and a precedence mode for higher notification administration. It modified a lot, sadly, that it additionally launched a bunch of troubling bugs, lots of which would not be totally ironed out till the next 12 months’s 5.1 launch.
Android model 6.zero: Marshmallow
In the grand scheme of issues, 2015’s Marshmallow was a reasonably minor Android launch — one which appeared extra like a zero.1-level replace than something deserving of a full quantity bump. But it began the pattern of Google releasing one main Android model per 12 months and that model all the time receiving its personal entire quantity.
Marshmallow’s most attention-grabbing component was a screen-search function referred to as Now On Tap — one thing that, as I mentioned on the time, had tons of potential that wasn’t totally tapped. Google by no means fairly perfected the system and ended up quietly retiring its model and transferring it out of the forefront the next 12 months.
Android 6.zero did introduce some stuff with lasting affect, although, together with extra granular app permissions, help for fingerprint readers and help for USB-C.
Android variations 7.zero and seven.1: Nougat
Google’s 2016 Android Nougat releases offered Android with a local split-screen mode, a brand new bundled-by-app system for organizing notifications and a Data Saver function. Nougat added some smaller however nonetheless important options, too, like an Alt-Tab-like shortcut for snapping between apps.
Perhaps most pivotal amongst Nougat’s enhancements, nevertheless, was the launch of the Google Assistant — which got here alongside the announcement of Google’s first totally self-made cellphone, the Pixel, about two months after Nougat’s debut. The Assistant would go on to turn into a important element of Android and most different Google merchandise and is arguably the corporate’s foremost effort as we speak.
Android model eight.zero: Oreo
And that brings us to 2017 and the present Android eight.zero Oreo launch. Oreo — nonetheless barely a blip on the radar outdoors of Google’s personal telephones — provides quite a lot of niceties to the platform, together with a local picture-in-picture mode, a notification snoozing possibility and notification channels that provide wonderful management over how apps can warn you.
Oreo additionally consists of some noteworthy components that additional Google’s objective of aligning Android and Chrome OS and enhancing the expertise of utilizing Android apps on Chromebooks — one thing more likely to be an more and more essential focus within the months and years forward.