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.
Depending 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.
But, 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
1. It all began with Android 1.0
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
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
4. Android 2.0/2.1 Eclair
5. Android 2.2 Froyo
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
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
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
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
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+)