Google's Android OS: Past, Present, and Future

Google's Android OS: Past, Present, and Future
Thinking back, it's hard to believe that with so many Android phones on the market today, that the first version of the Android OS was released only 3 years ago, but the full story starts a few years earlier.

It all began in October 2003 when Andy Rubin, Rich Miner, Nick Sears and Chris White founded Android Inc. in Palo Alto, California. Rubin was quoted by saying the purpose of Android was to allow "smarter mobile devices that are more aware of its owner's location and preferences", though at that time not much else was known about what type of phone software it would turn out to be.

Two years later, Android Inc. was acquired by Google in 2005 (though the amount has never been disclosed) and became a wholly owned subsidiary, but key employees were kept during the acquisition. In the two years that followed, the first Android SDK Beta was released to developers and phone manufactures. This was based on the Linux kernel to allow a flexible and upgradeable system. During this time, Google also helped form the Open Handset Alliance, along with a dozen other software and hardware companies, with the purpose to develop open standards for mobile phones.

Then in September 2008, the HTC Dream G1 was released by T-Mobile as the first device to run on the Android 1.0 operating system, which brought us the Android Market, full HTML web browser, GMail and E-Mail connectivity, as well as Google Contacts, Calendar, Maps, Sync, Search, and Media Player. The HTC Dream G1 featured a 3.2" display with 480x320 resolution, sliding QWERTY keyboard, 528MHz processor, 192MB of RAM, and a 3.2MP autofocus camera.

Google's Android OS: Past, Present, and Future
In February 2009, the HTC Dream G1 was updated to Android 1.1, which added more details in Maps, a longer screen timeout in the dialer, and the ability to save message attachments.

By mid year, there was Android 1.5 Cupcake that added the all important desktop Widgets, on-screen keyboard, faster camera response with video recording, browser copy & paste, and being able to upload videos directly to YouTube. In September 2009, Android 1.6 Donut was released, though there was still only a handful of Android models on the market. Not only did it bring many bug fixes, but also expanded the Voice & Text Search capabilities to include bookmarks & history, contacts, the web, a new Text-to-Speech, support for WVGA displays, and also CDMA/EVDO cellular network support.

When Android 2.0 Eclair hit later in 2009, that's when things started to heat up. It was a more advanced and refined operating system, with updates to almost every aspect of the user interface, including multiple E-Mail accounts, Exchange support, new Browser interface, and Bluetooth 2.1 support. Not only that, but it is also when the original Motorola DROID came to the market from Verizon Wireless. The device featured a 3.7" display with 480x854 resolution, EVDO Rev A for data, sliding QWERTY keyboard, 600MHz processor, 5MP autofocus camera, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. This is also when we started to see many more Android devices being manufactured and sold world-wide.

The next major release was Android 2.2 Froyo in the first half of 2010. This brought new internal optimizations to improve the overall speed, memory, and performance of the operating system. This, along with a new V8 JavaScript allowed the browser to work faster. We also saw an improved Application Launcher, more Widgets, USB tethering, Voice Dialing over Bluetooth, and Adobe Flash support in the Web Browser.

Later that year, Android 2.3 Gingerbread was announced, bring an updated user interface, support for larger and higher-resolution screens, improved power management, redesigned on-screen keyboard, enhanced copy/paste, support for Near Field Communications (NFC), audio effects in the music player, updated download manager, and support for more hardware sensors (gyroscope, barometer). It was then followed by service-updates to Android 2.3.3, 2.3.4 (voice/video chat in Google Talk), and 2.3.5 (for the Nexus S 4G).

Google has also spread its wings into the Tablet market as well. Even though there have been Tablets running Android 2.x since 2010, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the new Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system released in early 2011 is designed specifically for Tablets. The resigned holographic user interface still has an "Android feel" to it, and features a System Bar for accessing notifications, Action Bar, and Multitasking icon for bringing up a thumbnail view of open apps. There are also new desktop Widgets that were introduced in Honeycomb.

Android 2.3.x Gingerbread is still the latest iteration that is in currently available for Android smartphones today (mid-2011). Though the next version has already been announced: Android Ice Cream Sandwich, which is expected to combine elements of Gingerbread and Honeycomb together. Due for release later this year, little is know about it, but it will no longer require phones to have function buttons below the screen, as they will be on the bottom of the screen as icons (similar to how it is done in Honeycomb).

As of August 2011, Canalys research claims that 51.9 million Android devices shipped just in second quarter of this year (five times that of Q2 2010), which now accounts for 48% of all smartphones shipped world-wide. In the U.S. alone, Nielsen Ratings research found that 39% of smartphones were Android, followed by Apple's iOS at 28% and RIM's BlackBerry OS at 20%.

Now to make things even more interesting, Google announced earlier this week that it is positioning itself to purchase Motorola for $12.5 billion. It is unclear what the future will bring from this alliance, but we're now more likely to see Nexus and DROID type devices being produced by them down the road. Not only that, but it positions Android to be an even more viable alternative to the Apple iPhone, RIM BlackBerry, and Microsoft Windows Phone.

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79 Comments

1. quakan

Posts: 1418; Member since: Mar 02, 2011

I'm surprised they didn't release an Apple story along with it just so that people could look at the histories of the OS's in some detail.

2. ztedac

Posts: 69; Member since: May 17, 2010

you mean the history that steve job started out as a hacker before he became the fruit iconic personnel? =O reference: The History Of Hacking Documentary

5. quakan

Posts: 1418; Member since: Mar 02, 2011

I only wanted the iOS history lol...the Steve Jobs biography is already in the works.

9. ztedac

Posts: 69; Member since: May 17, 2010

well... it IS after all apple's history which they started out as hackers (was relatively open minded and share thoughts with each other) then they realize people would buy their products so they change it to a close circuit playground where they started to shut out others and sue people that hacks and patent everything they 'own' then they profit from it to make the ios... you gotta know the start from the beginning before you can understand the core development eh =]

3. ilia1986 unregistered

lol quakan.. it would go something like this: 9,000,000 BC: Apple invented the earth, computers, the macintosh, life, flowers, food, books, music, fire, water, cars, aeroplanes, helicopters, and the USA. 2001: Apple invented the MP3 player known as iPod. It also invented the MP3 format. After that. That's right. 2007: Apple invented mobile phones. Also known as iPhones. 2008: Apple invented applications, 3G networking, GPS, and the amazing ability to make your phone colored pigeon-sh!t white. 2009: Apple invented Copy, paste, cut, video recording, and the Compass. They also invented the North so that the compass would be useful. 2010: Apple invented folders, games, and enhanced their brainwashing machine to make iSheep buy their phone long after it was considered obsolete, even by Apple standards. 2011: Apple invented lawsuits, and because SJ got bored - he decided to sue every other commercial company that exists on earth. After all, Apple patented the concept of technology itself after sketching the first Wheel of the stone age, on a napkin in a sushi restaurant, and submitting it to the EU patent department. Where do you think the iPod clickwheel came from? SJ invented the wheel - and put it on his first MP3 player!

4. quakan

Posts: 1418; Member since: Mar 02, 2011

LMAOOOOO!!!

6. Alexxxr

Posts: 3; Member since: Mar 15, 2011

Bravo! Apple and Steve in a nutshell

7. ztedac

Posts: 69; Member since: May 17, 2010

i love your history lesson xDDDDD

12. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

that was probably a truthful lesson right thar.. u know taco agrees with that..lol

13. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 2009

Okay, the "pigeon-sh!t white" is just crossing the line there mister! ilia1986, you and I had some pretty good debates back in the day. I am so glad you're an Android fan now! LMAO!

15. ilia1986 unregistered

Yeah, man - I saw the light. Especially after WWDC 2011. :)

16. ilia1986 unregistered

Btw I wonder if anyone got the "airplanes and helicopters" reference there.. ;-)

19. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

Funny how this douche is trolling Apple on a google article and gets thumbs up. Then you fandroids say you're not trolls and yet every time someone makes a dumb comment on Apple you guys love it.

20. quakan

Posts: 1418; Member since: Mar 02, 2011

There are many trolls on here. My 1st comment was just a plain and simple comment and got thumbed down 7 times like wtf was wrong with that.

44. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

If you post something that isn't CLEARLY anti Apple or bashing the iPhone you will be rushed by fandroid trolls. They get upset even at unbiased fact comments. You have to bash Apple to get some respect here. Then they will say you're a clear and objective thinker and intellectual as well. An example - "I hate the iDiotphone it sucks and so does Apple. I hope Steve Jobs dies." This would be an acceptable comment for them.

23. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 2009

He was responding to quakan's comment about an Apple timeline. (BTW @ quakan, I don't think there was anything wrong with that post). But the topic of Android turned to iOS and ilia 1986 responded in jest. I don't think that's trolling, it's just funny as hell.

27. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Aww, poor baby Taco is sad in his pants because here we are in an Android article laughing at Apple. I love the double standard you create: it's okay for Miz to constantly repeat that Android is a half baked OS, you to repeat that it's a copycat OS, and both of you to constantly claim that Apple is the hero "defending their IP"- but holy s**t, we make one joke about Apple's attitude that they invented every f**king thing in every market they touch, and you guys s**t your pants.

37. The_Miz

Posts: 1496; Member since: Apr 06, 2011

Aww Sniggles mentioned me behind my back. I knew he couldn't resist me putting him in his place again. I love how Android fans b***h and moan about Apple fans trolling their stuff, oh but heaven forbid them to come and do the same to anything about Apple.

48. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Oh dear. I seem to have given Miz another erection. I apologize sincerely for that. Miz, I want you to read your post again very carefully. You completely f**ked up at trying to turn my point around. Friendly reminder. :)

54. The_Miz

Posts: 1496; Member since: Apr 06, 2011

Don't worry Sniggles, I already know about you riding the short bus both figuratively and literally. And sure I did. I was just making you look like a fool.

58. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

I'm sorry, I don't understand the connection between your erection and whether I ride the short bus. Oh, I get it now. The mentally handicapped turn you on.

66. The_Miz

Posts: 1496; Member since: Apr 06, 2011

Don't worry Sniggy, with me and my gf, I'll just think of what you will never have because you're the only one here who gets erected from anything Android related. Too bad they don't have a "widget" for that.

74. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

First rule of the internet: the first one to brag about getting laid on the internet is the one who isn't getting laid.

65. readingthissh1t

Posts: 303; Member since: Jul 20, 2011

damn dude, you guys are wack. the f**k..? is this supposed to be a flame war?

67. The_Miz

Posts: 1496; Member since: Apr 06, 2011

Andrones tend to get butthurt an awful lot

22. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

This was deliciously funny. I approve. I only wish I could've thought of this timeline before. EDIT: ilia, Apple just sued you. Turns out they invented dates and timelines, as proven by community sketches they submitted in 9,000,001 BC. They also stretched your timeline out a little to fit theirs. But they're allowed to, they're Apple after all.

24. ilia1986 unregistered

Yeah.. and I guess that if we diss taco here - Apple will sue as well - since this would be mistreatment of Apple Property. But - and here's the important point - since we are free men - we will diss taco anyway. ;-) Taco, you can take the White pill. The story ends. You continue to believe that iOS is the best thing since sliced bread (invented by Apple in 1878), and that the iPhone 4 is still magical and revolutionary (it can magically disconnect phone calls if you hold it correctly). And you can take the Green pill. You stay in wonderland - and we all get to show you how deep this whole "Android" thing goes. Remember - all we're offering you is the truth. Nothing more.

25. ilia1986 unregistered

Also - we must not forget that Apple just invented Grand Theft Auto 3!! http://www.redmondpie.com/download-grand-theft-auto-iii-for-mac-from-the-mac-app-store/ I mean - take a look at these amazing graphics!!11 They put the likes of Crysis to shame! Men, we must all be grateful that it wasn't Apple who invented the toilet paper (I mean - it's also white). The results would have been catastrophic. 1: You would have a daily dumping quota for which you would pay 99$ a year or 599$ a month. 2. You sheet would sync between various toilets in the places you visit. But only you and you alone would have to enter your Apple ID to flush it. 3. To get rid of the smell - you would have to buy the Apple HD smell remover for 29.99$. Single use only. 4. Toilet paper Air would be very light - but totally unusable. For just 999$. To actually use it - you would have to upgrade to Toilet paper Pro, which would be thick enough to be useful. Starting from 1199$. 5. Last but not least: You toilet would have Amazing apps! An app to flush the water. An app to turn on the light. An app to raise the seat. You get it. :D

30. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

So what function can android do other than flash that iOS can't do. Remember I said function so live wallpaper would not be a function.

31. ilia1986 unregistered

lol you're kidding right? First of all - live wallpaper IS a function. It's function is to provide you with an... animated wallpaper! Which in turn is used to entertain you. Second: Widgets. Function: customize the way you launch and organize apps and information on your phone. Third: general OS customization, like custom launchers, etc. Function: customize your control over the phone.

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