Android 10 Announced: Looking Back At The 10-Year-Old History Of Android Versions
American technology behemoth Google announced earlier this week that the latest version of its Android operating system will be officially called Android 10. By this decision, the company has also broken on the long going tradition of naming the versions after sweet treats or desserts. The latest release also marks the tenth version of the platform, as is evident from the name. The operating system may have had a rocky start back in the year 2008, it has significantly evolved over the years. So to mark the landmark release of Android 10, we look at the extensive history of the software over the years.
Android 1.0 and 1.1
The one that started it all. The first version of the platform was released back in 2008 and it seems like so long ago that it did not even have a dessert name. But just to complete the cycle, enthusiasts have started calling it Android Alpha and Beta for the versions 1.1 and 1.2 respectively. The first generation of the operating system included basic Google apps like Gmail, Maps, Calendar and YouTube. While all of it seems very basic now, it was quite a big deal to have a suite of applications on a mobile phone.
Android 1.5 – Cupcake
The Android 1.5 Cupcake was released in 2009, which also established the naming scheme based on sweet treats. Apart from being a monumental release, Cupcake brought about many changes to the platform. It was the first version to include an on-screen keyboard and third-party widgets. The latter provided the platforms one of the most unique features. Fun fact, this was also the first time the operating system gained the functionality enabling video recording on smartphones.
Android 1.6 – Donut
Android 1.6 Donut was also released in the year 2009 and brought about many features to the platform. The first and most significant was adding the search box. What is now a ubiquitous feature was first added to Donut. The version also added support for multiple display sizes, which is a key element for the platform’s success. It also introduced Google Play, which was called the Android Market at the time. The store enabled users to download and try out different apps and games.
Android 2.0/2.1 – Eclair
The Android Eclair was released after almost six months of Donut, which is not something the company does today. It was sort of like an incremental update, with the platform adding support for Google’s turn by turn navigation and speech to text among other features. Eclair also added live wallpapers, which while it drained a lot of battery, was a really cool feature at the time.
Android 2.2 – Froyo
Google plopped up the Android 2.2 Froyo just four months after Eclair. This release, just like the Frozen Yogurt it is named after, was a sweet treat to the users as it focussed on increasing the performance of the devices. The release added the support for new Voice Actions and added support for mobile hotspots; which is also an important addition by historical importance.
Android 2.3 – Gingerbread
Android 2.3 Gingerbread was released in the year 2010 and marked an incremental update over Froyo. The platform gained support for new and improved gaming API for better and graphically intense gaming. It also added NFC connectivity to compatible devices; enhancing their connectivity. Fun fact, Google added a hidden easter egg in the operating system starting Gingerbread. The first hidden surprise was a zombie artwork when the users tapped on the version number multiple times in settings.
Android 3.0/3.1/3.2 – Honeycomb
Back in the year 2011, when tablets were becoming all the rage in the market, Google released the Android 3.0 Honeycomb. As a tablet exclusive operating system, it didn’t see many takers but was an important step in the redesigning of the platform. The version saw a user interface that utilised the whole display of the device, which was important in a tablet. However, due to limited application support and not many makers adopting it, Honeycomb is one of the more obscure versions on the list.
Android 4.0 – Ice Cream Sandwich
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich was a major design overhaul for the operating system. Released in the same year as Honeycomb, the version brought about changes like a new Holo design, swipe gestures for notifications and recent apps, and support for Android Beam. Looking back at Ice Cream Sandwich now feels like it was an extremely ambitious update, one which has futuristic vibes going on for it.
Android 4.1/4.2/4.3 – Jellybean
Released over multiple periods between 2012 and 2013, the Android 4.1/4.2/4.3 Jellybean was an incremental update over Ice Cream Sandwich. The platform gained support for account switching, which lets multiple users use a smartphone in different ways. It also has Google Now, a barebones digital assistant which has now been christened as Google Assistant. Jellybean also got actionable notifications, which let taking actions without opening certain applications easier.
Android 4.4 – KitKat
The name for Android 4.4 KitKat was a result of Google’s partnership with Nestle in the year 2013. This release made for a delicious name, and software refinements all around the operating system. Things like a smart dialer, full-screen applications and the “Okay Google” keyword; which we now take for granted, were first added in KitKat.
Android 5.0 – Lollipop
One of the biggest releases of the operating system, Android 5.0 Lollipop saw Google going back to the drawing board in 2014. The company adopted the Material Design theme, which is still in use today and almost redesigned the platform. With the release, lock screen notifications became a thing, and the software gained support for full hands-free “Ok Google” detection. Not to mention the change in the recent apps drawer with the release. Fun fact, Google added a neat little game in the easter egg which resembled Flappy Bird, another smash hit game of the time.
Android 6.0 – Marshmallow
Android 6.0 Marshmallow was released in 2015 and was an incremental update over Lollipop. It was in part because the previous version was such a design overhaul that it made for Marshmallow not to do anything drastic. The version added support for things like fingerprint readers and USB Type C ports and added a feature called Now on Tap. It used the company’s machine learning to provide more information on what is being displayed on the device. For granular privacy settings, Marshmallow also had permission controls for each application.
Android 7.0 – Nougat
Android 7.0 Nougat, was released in the year 2016 and focussed on improving upon Marshmallow. It was launched alongside the first Google-made smartphone, the Pixel and Pixel XL. With Nougat, the company introduced the split-screen feature and debuted Google Assistant, which is arguably the best digital assistant on a smartphone.
Android 8.0 – Oreo
Android 8.0 Oreo was released in the year 2017 and again, was an incremental update over Nougat. The name, much like KitKat was a result of Google’s partnership with a big company, this time it being Nabisco. This release brought about feature like a picture in picture mode, granular control over notifications. One of the landmark features of the sandwich cookie version was the support for Project Treble. It was an attempt by Google to minimise Android Fragmentation; by getting the latest release on most devices faster. Sadly the last bit has not played out very well.
Android 9 – Pie
The last release of the platform yet and one of the most important, Android 9 Pie was baked in the year 2018. It marked a soft reboot in designing the operating system, with the company trying to move away from Material Design. The release introduced new gesture-based navigation, which however half baked they may be; paved the way for all-screen smartphones. Also added to the release were clever software controls for Wi-Fi and mobile data. It also introduced the Digital Wellbeing feature on some devices. This lets users see the amount of time they spend on their smartphones and can limit it.
Android 10 – No Desserts For You!
The latest release by the company, Android 10 as mentioned above does not have an official dessert name. However, according to some reports, Google still has the codename for the release which is named after a dessert that starts with Q. Take your guesses, I’m going with Quiche. However sad the company’s naming decision may be, the latest release will bring about significant changes in the platform. The first one is an all-new navigation gesture system, which resembles the new iPhone gestures. Also arriving in the release are better and faster security updates and support for Live Captions. The final developer’s Beta for the software has just been released; so Google is expected to roll out a stable update in the following weeks.