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Tech Throwback Thursday: Looking Back At The History Of Android OS

Since 2008, the Android operating system has been running on mobile phones around the world. However, Android has gone through a lot of important development and changes that we will point out in this article.


Initially, Android Inc. had solely been responsible for developing Android software in 2003. However, in 2005, Google bought it and just two years later there were allegedly two internal releases. But as of then, there were no devices available that could run the software. Therefore, they used a ‘software emulation’ to run tests.

Google and Android earlier years

Google Android history
Screenshot of Cupcake, Donut and Eclair operating system home screen


The first time Android was launched on a device was in October 2008, when Android 1.0 was run on the T-Mobile G1 (aka HTC Dream). Android 1.1 quickly followed it and while they didn’t have code names, insiders called them “Astro Boy” and “Bender” respectively.


In 2009, Ryan Gibson, the project manager came up with the idea of naming releases after confectionaries. Thus, the next Android, 1.5, was code-named: Cupcake. It had features like video recording and playback in MPEG-4 and 3GP formats as well as uploading videos to YouTube.


Still, in 2009, Google released Android 1.6 and 2.0 named Donut and Eclair respectively. Eclair supported Bluetooth 2.1, the ability to tap a Contact’s photo and select to call, SMS, or email the person among other things.


Froyo came in 2010 and the Gingerbread, Android 2.3.3, was launched in 2011. It supported improved connectivity performance for the Nexus 4G, improved battery performance and fixes for many bugs.

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Android 3.0 came in February 2011 and had three updates. The last update for Honeycomb operating system was mainly to fix issues in the Motorola Xoom devices. Ice Cream Sandwich was the code name for Android 4.0, launched in October 2011. It brought with it the ability to access applications directly from the lock screen and improved copy-and-paste functionality.


The Ice Cream Sandwich also provided smoother screen rotation and better phone number recognition. Android 4.1, Jellybean, was launched in 2012 and it brought new sounds for wireless charging and low battery. Using it, users could long-press the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth icons in Quick Settings to toggle the on/off state.


Kitkat came in 2013 and had been initially called  “Key Lime Pie” and was thought to be Android 5 but Google changed its name and tagged it Android 4.4. In 2014, the company designed the Android 4.4W KitKat for Android Wear devices.

Android in recent times

Google Android history
Screenshot of Lollipop, Marshmallow and Pie home operating system screen.


Android 5.0 came later in November 2014 with the name Lollipop. It came with a special device protection feature. If a device is lost or stolen it will remain locked until the owner signs into their Google account, even if the device is reset to factory settings.


Google launched Marshmallow in October 2015 as Android 6.0. It supported USB-C and its update allows users to double-press the power button to open the camera. In August 2016, Nougat became available for Android users. It supported Daydream virtual reality platform (VR interface). Also, it featured developer options as well.


Android 8.0, christened Oreo, came to smartphones in August 2017. With it came notification improvements and a redesigned Quick Settings and Settings background.


In August 2018, Google launched Pie as the name of its Android 9.0. This android version stopped battery Saver from showing an orange overlay on the notification and status bars.


A month later than the traditional August date, Android 10 launched on September 20 under the name Android Q. It never got an official code name despite the stories of possibly naming it Queen Cake. Android Q supports foldable phones and Notification Bubbles.


Google has announced launching Android 11 much later in 2020. The company had recently also applied for a license to allow it to resume working with Huawei.


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Onwuasoanya Obinna

A reader of books and stringer of words. Passionate about Science and Tech. When not writing or reading he is surfing the web and Tweeting.

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