Android is arguably the best thing to ever happen to the smart phone. With a market share of 88% of all smartphones, Android is simply king of the mobile operating system.
Since its first consumer version was released back in September 23, 2008, Android 1.0 was the Alpha release. A few months later, Android 1.1 was released in February 2009. All this time, we didn’t see Android get the usual confectionary-themed codenames, until Android 1.5 Cupcake, which was released in April 2009.
Android Donut (1.6)
Released in September 2009, Donut introduced the quick search box that all Android users have grown accustomed to. This allowed users to get search results from the web and from their phone’s local content from a single box on the home screen.
With Donut, we also saw the launch of Google Play. Before Google Play, there was Android Market. Google Play exposed top free apps and paid apps just as third-party apps in the store had started growing in number.
Android Eclair (2.0 – 2.1)
Shortly after Donut, in October 2009, Google introduced Android Eclair. With Eclair, Android introduced Google Maps navigation, home screen customization including live wallpaper and speech-to-text functionality.
Android Froyo (2.2 – 2.2.3)
Froyo was released in May 2010 and it brought voice actions that allowed users to perform key functions on their phones such as setting alarms. We also saw the introduction of tethering which let users turn their devices into portable wi-fi hotspots.
Android Gingerbread (2.3 – 2.3.7)
Gingerbread saw the introduction of Gaming APIs, which meant that developers could now build graphics-intensive 3D games. NFC support was also introduced and battery management as we know it today, was also brought by the Gingerbread man. Gingerbread was released in December 2010.
Android Honeycomb (3.0 – 3.2.6)
After going public in February 2011, I would not be surprised if most people don’t know about the existence of this Android version. Honeycomb was built to run exclusively on tablets. This version introduced on-screen navigation buttons and quick settings, both which are part of Android until today.
Android Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0 – 4.0.4)
ICS, released on October 2011, saw the introduction of widgets and app folders on the home screen. This version of Android also introduced data usage control and Android Beam, which uses NFC to instantly share content between two devices. With ICS, we also saw a new looking UI known as “Holo” introduced.
Android Jelly Bean (4.1 – 4.3.1)
In July 2012, we saw the birth of Google Now, actionable notifications – which means one could interact with the notifications and take actions directly from the notification. With Jelly Bean, multiple accounts were also introduced on Android, allowing multiple users on one device.
Android KitKat (4.4 – 4.4.4)
“OK, Google” welcome to the world. As from October 2013, Android users could now get things done without touching the screen with a simple command to launch the voice search. We also saw the introduction of an immersive mode, where the status and navigation bar would disappear in certain apps to give the user a full immersive experience.
Android Lollipop (5.0 – 5.1.1)
Notably the most attractive Android ever built at that Time. In November 2014, Android L brought Material Design UI which was a drastic change from Holo. Material Design was based on shadows and motion, meaning the user could clearly see where UI elements were coming from and they were not just appearing from nowhere. With Lollipop, Google also introduced support for Android TV, Android Wear and Android Auto.
Lollipop also introduced beautiful card-style lock screen notifications.
Android Marshmallow (6.0 – 6.0.1)
Considered to be an iterative update, Android Marshmallow brough Now on Tap, App permissions and Doze mode which optimized apps and froze them when the phone was not in use, to conserve battery life. All this was still wrapped in Material design UI. Marshmallow has been around since October 2015.
Android Nougat (7.0 – 7.1.2)
What can I say, Nougat made everything introduced with Marshmallow even better. There were a couple of improvements with notifications, users can now interact more with notifications including replying to messages directly on the notification without opening the particular app. Doze was also improved and Now on Tap was replaced with Google Assistant, a more intelligent digital assistant. Nougat has been around since August 2016.