Poll: Evolution of Android - which major update changed the face of the platform most significantly?

Since its debut on the consumer market all the way back in 2008, Android has gone through numerous changes -- so many, in fact, that even we, who do this thing for a living, had to refer to the change logs during the years. In any case, we started out with Android 1.0 Alpha, which introduced the core of what Android was to be, and that was followed by a number of upgrades in the six year span since then.

With Android 1.5 Cupcake, Google added support for widgets, third-party keyboards, and the ability for the system to auto-rotate depending on the way it's viewed. Android 1.6 Donut is what followed next, introducing support for WVGA resolution (480x800) screens and screenshots for apps in the Android Market. Just over a month later, Google released yet another update, Android 2.0 Eclair, with numerous (and essential) new camera features, a refreshed UI, and support for live wallpapers and Bluetooth 2.1. It then took the search giant six months to arrive at Android 2.2 Froyo, an update that really helped speed up the platform with a bunch of performance improvements and a ton of connectivity fixes and features implementations. Another six months or so, and we had Android 2.3 Gingerbread, an update that brought yet more upgrades to the UI, further improved performance, and, of course, gave us NFC and support for sensors like gyroscopes and barometers. 

But while Android was flourishing on the smartphone market, up until the end of February 2011, the tablet experience it provided was pretty horrible. Google finally addressed this with Android 3.0 Honeycomb -- the only platform update that was exclusively available for tablets. Honeycomb gave us a much more logical UI for the size, along with other upgrades, like improved multitasking. 

The versions to follow since, like Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (new "Holo" interface, software navigation keys, 1080p video recording) and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean (better performance with Project Butter, better camera app, lockscreen widget support) both natively supported tablets, and that continues to be the case even today. Speaking of today, those of you with a flagship from this year will likely be running on Android 4.4 KitKat, the first update to be named after a trademarked confectionery, which brought several interface design changes and immersive mode for apps. And next up? Next up we've got Android 5.0 Lollipop, the latest update that is not even yet available for consumption by the masses. But thanks to the Android L preview Google provided the world with, most of us already know what Android Lollipop will bring to the table, including the Material Design overhaul, support for 64-bit CPUs, a switch to Google's own ART runtime, and, of course, Project Volta, which should help our devices stay online that bit longer.

That's quite a few changes, right? And this is just naming the few. In a way, most of these updates all addressed some very serious challenges the platform faced at the time, but not all of them contributed to changing the face of Android for the better equally. We have our favorite here, but what's your? Which of the major updates listed above do you think changed the face of Android in the most significant ways?

Evolution of Android - which major update changed the face of the platform most significantly?

Android 1.5 Cupcake
Android 1.6 Donut
Android 2.0 Eclair
Android 2.2 Froyo
Android 2.3 Gingerbread
Android 3.0 Honeycomb
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
Android 4.4 KitKat
Android 5.0 Lollipop



1. Busyboy unregistered

Definitely 4.0.

3. dickwyn

Posts: 621; Member since: May 07, 2012

same here, although 5.0 has Material design and looks the most posh. compare gingerbread to ICS.

9. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

+2 ICS seemed like when a lot of features and functions came together.

12. Awalker

Posts: 1982; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

I also chose ICS. It started the move to a more mature OS.

13. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

The most significant was Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. That I think was what put Android on the map & took it to its #1 status. Android 5.0 Lollipop is that one that now shows the ultimate amount of polish & GREAT design behind Android as a whole. (A true multitasking juggernaut.) This update will cement why Android is #1 & will be what others OS' will try to emulate in the near future. I think Android 5.0 Lollipop is just as monumental of an update as Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich was.

15. cncrim

Posts: 1588; Member since: Aug 15, 2011

Agree ICS is where Android mature, however the biggest change over I still waiting for is END OF FRAGMENTATION. Love to see update can push out in the same or the next week.

19. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

As long as there are manufacturer skins and exclusive features, there will be some level of fragmentation. Google invited fragmentation when they designed the OS to be customizable. If you want quick updates, get a Nexus or GPE.

33. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

Yup. Things really went into high gear after 4.0. Changed the face of android and put the user experience at iphone levels. And it started the new era where its well ahead of iOS and thus Apple just copies year after year. lol.

36. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

wow still cant stop thinking about apple, even in a pure google posting, simply just wow at some of you android nut huggers.

53. FallingAtlas

Posts: 3; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

bet you looked real hard for this one huh

35. Synack

Posts: 688; Member since: Jul 05, 2011

ICS definitely changed the face but it was still a bit laggy, which was a big deal. I honestly think 4.1 was the biggest deal with Project Butter. For the first time most Android phones stopped experiencing unnecessary lag or s**tty framerates.

37. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

I wouldnt say stopped, but certainly helped pure android flavor phones. Since things like touchwiz and all other 'launchers' etc add to that lag. Problem is, pure android skin is not the android people know, it is touchwiz.

50. jgvillan

Posts: 5; Member since: May 29, 2014

In my experience, Android just got WAY better since ICS, with much few crashes, if at all, related to the OS. I am not counting crashes related to badly written apps, AKA, Facebook Messenger!!!

52. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

The correct answer is Honeycomb...3.0. ICS was Honeycomb but better. HC was only for tablets, its basically what ICS is.

56. Synack

Posts: 688; Member since: Jul 05, 2011

Eh Honeycomb was s**t, which is why it was botched in less than a year.

60. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

But the overall look n feel is where ICS came from. HC was only for tablets, yea so I agree. It was more like a testing the waters thing for Google. I'm just going by the article: "which major update changed the face of the platform most significantly?" Android's entire UI change with Honeycomb.

66. roscuthiii

Posts: 2383; Member since: Jul 18, 2010

People tend to have selectively revisionist memories... ICS was just an updated Honeycomb. That was my first thought when I looked at the poll results. The Holo theme/UI ICS is famous for - came from HC.

67. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Its understandable, HC was setup to fail IMO by making it only for tablets. HC really is an after thought to most ppl. But polls are about opinions mostly, I didnt mean to say the correct answer earlier...lol. All I know is after HC, ICS....I actually started liking the stock Android look. I felt less of a need to root n ROM a stock device. Now I just root for the root features of apps.

64. Fellwalker

Posts: 538; Member since: Apr 04, 2014

Yep, not until then could I be tempted away from Windows mobile 6.5. The way 5.0 looks, I might be off back to Windows 10.

2. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

I think ICS was the most important one because it was kinda the first one to run smoothly.

6. draconic1991

Posts: 200; Member since: Apr 27, 2012

I thought of smoothness too but that came with 4.1 Jellybean (project butter)....what came with ICS was a more refined look which enabled people to think they did not need a manufacturer's custom skin anymore.

16. shuaibhere

Posts: 1986; Member since: Jul 07, 2012

Yeah!!!ICS for me too... I remember the days when browsing was such a bad experience with Ginger Bread... And also multitasking was meh....and there was no option to dismiss notifications with swipe.... ICS paved the way for high end graphics games.... Best update ever...

4. greenelektron

Posts: 537; Member since: Sep 10, 2014

What is the most funny version if android so far? LOL-lipop

25. buccob

Posts: 2975; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

When you separate the word like that, it sounds like LOL-iPod

26. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

Android 7.0 Roflcopter

5. duartix

Posts: 311; Member since: Apr 01, 2014

I find it funny that so many people voted for Lollipop when the verb is "changed". Don't get me wrong, I believe it will be major indeed, but it hasn't changed anything so far.

8. draconic1991

Posts: 200; Member since: Apr 27, 2012

the look nd feel the ART becoming mandatory and project volta

24. NexusPhan

Posts: 632; Member since: Jul 11, 2013

Are you kidding me??? Everything has changed. EVERYTHING! Every touch or drag now has a new animation. Completely revamped all of the animations. Trusted devices. Trusted face. New apps switcher. New quick settings. New auto brightness. New connection notifications. Multi-user support. Do not disturb added. Battery saver added. App pinning feature added. New sharing menus with prioritization. All new notification handling with custom app notification settings. Support for 64-bit. Entire new runtime. Low latency audio. USB audio support.(Amazing) new set-up options with NFC tap to restore. Auto device encryption. Kill switch added. Not to mention the entire new unified design language. And I could keep going and going. It's taking me a while to learn how to use Android again. I did not have this problem with ICS. It's an entire new OS and by far the biggest change in terms of user interface looks and feel and under the hood changes.

65. Fellwalker

Posts: 538; Member since: Apr 04, 2014

It isn't out properly, so it hasn't yet changed. It will change things, but not till the two new nexi are out.

69. duartix

Posts: 311; Member since: Apr 01, 2014

My point exactly.

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