What an extended, unusual journey it has been.
From its inaugural launch to immediately, Android has reworked visually, conceptually and functionally — time and time once more. Google’s cellular working system might have began out scrappy, however holy moly, has it ever developed.
Android variations 1.0 to 1.1: The early days
Android made its official public debut in 2008 with Android 1.0 — a launch so historical it did not also have a cute codename.
Issues had been fairly fundamental again then, however the software program did embrace a set 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 immediately.
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 essential 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 shortly flip into one among Android’s most distinguishing components, and it offered the platform’s first-ever choice for video recording.
Android model 1.6: Donut
Android 1.6, Donut, rolled into the world within the fall of 2009. Donut crammed in some vital holes in Android’s heart, 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 crucial within the years to come back. It additionally added assist for CDMA networks like Verizon, which might play a key function in Android’s imminent explosion.
Android variations 2.0 to 2.1: Eclair
Maintaining the breakneck launch tempo of Android’s early years, Android 2.0 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 large Verizon-led advertising marketing campaign surrounding it.
The discharge’s most transformative aspect was the addition of voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation and real-time site visitors information — one thing beforehand remarkable (and nonetheless primarily unmatched) within the smartphone world. Navigation apart, Eclair introduced dwell wallpapers to Android in addition to the platform’s first speech-to-text perform. 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 conflict” towards Google.
Android model 2.2: Froyo
Simply 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 vital 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 features like getting instructions and making notes by tapping an icon after which talking a command.
Notably, Froyo additionally introduced assist for Flash to Android’s net browser — an choice 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 cellular gadgets. Apple would finally win, in fact, and Flash would turn into far much less widespread. However again when it was nonetheless all over the place, having the ability to entry the complete net with none black holes was a real benefit solely Android might supply.
Android model 2.3: Gingerbread
Android’s first true visible identification began coming into focus with 2010’s Gingerbread launch. Shiny inexperienced had lengthy been the colour of Android’s robotic mascot, and with Gingerbread, it grew to become an integral a part of the working system’s look. Black and inexperienced seeped all around the UI as Android began its gradual march towards distinctive design.
Android 3.0 to three.2: Honeycomb
2011’s Honeycomb interval was a bizarre time for Android. Android 3.0 got here into the world as a tablet-only launch to accompany the launch of the Motorola Xoom, and thru the next 3.1 and three.2 updates, it remained a tablet-exclusive (and closed-source) entity.
Beneath the steering 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.
Whereas 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 immediately. 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 tip for the everlasting overflow-menu button; and it launched the idea of a card-like UI with its tackle the Latest Apps checklist.
Android model 4.0: Ice Cream Sandwich
With Honeycomb appearing 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 discharge 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 saved 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 4.0 additionally made swiping a extra integral technique of getting across the working system, with the then-revolutionary-feeling means to swipe away issues like notifications and up to date apps. And it began the gradual technique of bringing a standardized design framework — generally known as “Holo” — all all through the OS and into Android’s app ecosystem.
Android variations 4.1 to 4.3: Jelly Bean
Unfold throughout three impactful Android variations, 2012 and 2013’s Jelly Bean releases took ICS’s recent 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 good distance in making Android extra inviting for the common consumer.
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 on the whole, with a concentrate on card-based outcomes that tried to reply questions immediately.
Multiuser assist additionally got here into play, albeit on tablets solely at this level, and an early model of Android’s Fast Settings panel made its first look. Jelly Bean ushered in a closely hyped system for inserting widgets in your lock display, too — one which, like so many Android options through the years, quietly disappeared a pair years later.
Android model 4.4: KitKat
Late-2013’s KitKat launch marked the tip 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 modern look.
Android 4.4 additionally noticed the primary model of “OK, Google” assist — however in KitKat, the hands-free activation immediate labored solely when your display was already on and you had been both at your house display or contained in the Google app.
The discharge 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.