September 23rd came and went, and
many of you probably don't even remember why
that's an important date. That's normal, after all – it has
been a while since, 5 years ago,
the world saw the unveiling of the first Android handset –
the HTC Dream, widely known as the T-Mobile G1. The
G1 was a huge success – it sold more than a million units in
the States alone in the first 6 months. No, it wasn't as big as
Apple's juggernaut – 1.6 million iPhone 3G sold in just 3 months in
the US of A – but that has dramatically changed over the years -- Android now runs on over a billion devices.
on the perspective, 5 years may appear like a long time to some
people. If you think about the rate at which progress has
historically occurred, however, then you may just understand what we
mean by saying that Android, including the immediate ecosystem of
hardware, tech, media and whatnot that surrounds it, has made giant leaps
from what the platform represented just 5 years ago.
are we throwing around baseless superlatives as far as Google's OS is
concerned? We'll let fact speak for themselves, though for the sake
of being objective, the following advancements can't be solely
credited to Mountain View, despite its undeniable involvement in
shaping the market -- rivals or friends, numerous companies have made their contribution.
So what did change? In
five years, we've gone from a lowly HVGA resolution of 320x480 to
what has shaped as the industry standard of 1920x1080 today. The G1
had a screen real estate of just 3.2-inches – unacceptable for
most today, with preferences now firmly entrenched in the 4.5- to 5-inch
bracket. Processing capabilities? Through the roof! We went from
single-core processors with third the clock speed of modern chips to
quad-core chipsets that house CPU's that are now running at 1.5GHz and
above. And the supporting ecosystem? It went from just 35 apps with the very
first Android 1.0 to over a billion today and the number of manufacturers involved in the production of Android-based devices is now beyond count.
So what did change in Android through those 5 years? Let's take a look.
The Evolution of Android
The Evolution of Android
1. It all began with Android 1.0
Commercially released on September 23 2008, Android 1.0 first appeared on T-Mobile's G1
, also known as the HTC Dream. The first Android iteration, in some regards, lacked features that would nowadays fall short of what has become a sort of an industry 'sanitary minimum'. Nevertheless, it did feature the Android Market (that's how it was called before it got renamed to the Play Store), a fully-functioning web browser, most proprietary Google apps like Gmail, Maps, Talk (now Hangouts) and the like. Interestingly enough, Android featured the pull down notification tab from the very beginning – one of the many features that made it to what we now consider the core offering of a mobile OS.
What Android 1.0 lacked includes a full-fledged player for media playback, a camcorder, proper Bluetooth support, among others.
2. Android 1.5 Cupcake
Half a year later, in April 2009, we saw the first major update with Android 1.5 Cupcake, which also started the whole dessert naming convention. The first device to actually feature the new Android version was the HTC Magic
, which was also the first touch-screen only Android phone. Android Cupcake packed some notable improvements and additions. Among those were an universal search box that now went through your bookmarks and contacts in addition to the web.
As trivial as it may sound today, back then seemingly obvious options such as screen rotation, deleting multiple photos and copy-pasting weren't properly (or at all) included until Cupcake. Other notable features of Android 1.5 Cupcake include the introduction of widgets, a much improved camera app that now could switch back and forth between camcorder and camera seamlessly and support for third-party virtual keyboards.
3. Android 1.6 Donut
On September 15, 2009, Google outed the next major iteration of its OS – Android 1.6 Donut. Probably one of the most important additions that Donut brought to the table was support for WVGA resolutions, or 800x480, along with some speed improvements in specific apps such as search and canera. Speaking of search, it was with Donut that Google first added the option for voice searching, though obviously it was leagues behind in terms of accuracy when compared to what we consider acceptable today.
4. Android 2.0/2.1 Eclair
The SDK for Android 2.0, codenamed Eclair, was released just over a month after Donut, on October 26, 2009. Despite the tiny gap between the two, however, Android 2.0 brought a swath of changes for the better, many of which are still in use today. Some of those include support for Live Wallpapers, Bluetooth 2.1, support for a camera flash, digital zoom, scene modes. On the hardware side, Eclair also brought some speed improvements through software optimizations.
5. Android 2.2 Froyo
Android 2.2. Froyo brought changes and new features, the lack of which, was quickly becoming a problem. The OS suddenly got lighter and faster thanks to JIT (Just-In-Time) compilation. USB and Wi-Fi tethering saw the light of day for the first time. App updates, which until then had to be manually taken care of, were now automatic.
But, that was hardly all that was new. Google also added Adobe Flash 10.1 support, FM Radio support, improvements to OpenGL API that made gaming smoother and overall better. On the hardware front, Froyo brought along support for 720p screens.
6. Android 2.3 Gingerbread
Android 2.3 Gingerbread was officially released in the beginning of December 2010. Gingerbread, again, brought some performance gains, via the addition of garbage collection, among others. It also added native support for even more sensors, such as gyroscopes, barometers and gravimeters. Near Field Communication (NFC) was also added, along with the first version of Google Wallet.
Apps were also made easier to manage, thanks to the inclusion of an App Manager, not to mention how much better power management got.
7. Android 3.0/3.1/3.2 Honeycomb
Launched in February 2011, Android 3.0 Honeycomb was specifically developed with tablets in mind. This made a lot of sense, because until that point, Android wasn't really meant for tablet use, though that didn't stop some manufacturers from giving birth to some nightmarish spawns.
The new OS came with a new Tablet UI, optimized for use on slates, revamped widgets and better multitasking, video chat via Google Talk (now Hangouts) and Bluetooth tethering.
Subsequent Honeycomb versions added support for peripherals, such as keyboards and gaming pads, allowed you to resize widgets for the first time and introduced a swath of bug fixes.
8. Android 4.0 Ice Cream
That's right – we're finally getting into familiar territory, since some of you are probably still stuck on the now aged Android 4.0 Ice Cream. Released in October 2011, Ice Cream sandwich has been, arguably, the single biggest update in Android history. The UI and the general design of the OS were completely overhauled – they got slicker, more minimal. Launchers were made completely customizable, giving rise to third-party solutions such as Nova, Apex and GO launchers that are popular today.
Face lock was added, along with it also came the Data Usage section, Android Beam, 1080p video recording and widget management.
9. Android 4.1/4.2/4.3 Jelly Bean
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean was officially launched on July 9 2012, and is what most of you have running right now. In some ways Jelly Bean is an incremental update, though at that point in time, the improvements in performance that it brought warranted a spot in our hearts. The interface got smoother, more refined. Android 4.1 Jelly Bean also brought Google's Chrome browser to the table, expandable notifications, the ability to control notifications on per-app basis, and most importantly – Google Now.
Later versions of Jelly Bean didn't disappoint either – “Photo Sphere” type panorama photos were now supported, the lock screen also got improved – you can now add widgets to it. Other notable additions include: Quick Settings, Bluetooth Low Energy support, OpenGL 3.0, 4K resolution support and many security and performance enhancements.
source: Carlos Hernandez (G+)