A brief history of Android releases

android versions

With Android 4.4 KitKat now officially out we are looking ahead to learning about the newest release of the platform. The build is debuted with the Nexus 5 on Halloween, however previous Nexus products should also see the Hershey-inspired version in due time. In fact, we might look for 4.4 KitKat on a variety of devices, perhaps going back a few years. Why? According to Google, the goal with KitKat is to “make an amazing Android experience available for everybody”.

Some interpret this to mean older phones and tablets while others look for products like smartwatches and wearable tech. But, before we get ahead of ourselves, why not take a quick jaunt through time and reflect on some of the key moments in the various iterations of Android releases.

Note that we’ll not hit you over the head with every single detail and that more of the back-end developer stuff could be glossed over. The reason? Our site is aimed at existing users and those considering Android purchases down the road. The average AndroidGuys reader doesn’t care much for that deep dive stuff. Our focus, rather, will be more on user-facing features that rolled out over time.

Android 1.5 Cupcake

Introduced: April 30, 2009

Key features in this version of Android: Integration of home screen widgets, support for folders on home screen, stereo Bluetooth support, copy/paste in web browser, video recording and playback.

Notable devices of the day: HTC Hero, T-Mobile G1, T-Mobile Cliq, Samsung Moment, LG Eve, Motorola Backflip

Android 1.6 Donut

Introduced: September 15, 2009

Key features in this version of Android: Quick search box, updated interface for camera, camcorder, and gallery, updated Google Play (Android Market), battery usage indicator, text-to-speech engine,

Notable devices of the day: LG Optimus, Motorola Devour, Samsung Behold II, Samsung Galaxy, Sony Ericsson Xperia X10, Garminfone

Android 2.0 – 2.1 Eclair

Introduced: October 26, 2009

Key features in this version of Android: Google Maps Navigator (beta), updated browser, support for multiple accounts, improved keyboard, SMS search, Exchange support

Notable devices of the day: Motorola Droid, Motorola Charm, Motorola Flipout, Samsung Galaxy S, Acer Liquid E, HTC Desire

Android 2.2 Froyo

Introduced: May 20, 2010

Key features in this version of Android: Support for Adobe Flash, portable hotspots, multiple keyboard languages, speed and performance improvements, enhanced Microsoft Exchange support

Notable devices of the day: Nexus One, HTC EVO, Droid Incredible, Droid X, Samsung Droid Charge, Sidekick 4G

Android 2.3 – 2.3.7 Gingerbread

Introduced: December 6, 2010

Key features in this version of Android: UI refinements, NFC support, native support for SIP VOIP, faster/more intuitive text input, enhanced copy and paste

Notable devices of the day: Nexus S, HTC Sensation, HTC EVO 3D, Motorola Droid Razr, Samsung Galaxy S II, Sony Xperia Play

Android 3.0 – 3.2 Honeycomb

Introduced: February 22, 2011

Key features in this version of Android: Revamped (holographic) UI designed specifically for tablets, action bar, improved multi-tasking, updated standard Android apps, better copy/paste, redesigned keyboard

Notable devices of the day: Motorola Xoom, Eee Pad Transformer, Samsung Galaxy Tab

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

Introduced: October 19, 2011

Key features in this version of Android: improved multi-tasking, face unlock, resizeable widgets, Android beam, enhanced email options, improved text and voice input, soft buttons can replace hard keys

Notable devices of the day: Galaxy Nexus, HTC One X, LG Optimus G, Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, Motorola Droid Razr M, Sony Xperia T

Android 4.1 – 4.3 Jelly Bean

jellybeanIntroduced: July 9, 2012

Key features in this version of Android: larger, rich, and actionable notifications, Google Now, offline voice dictation, streamlined UI, performance improvements “Project Butter”, smart widget placement, multi-user profiles for tablets (4.2), lock screen widgets (4.2), daydream (4.2), OpenGL ES 3.0 (4.3), Bluetooth Smart Ready (4.3), restricted user profiles for tablets (4.3)

Notable devices of the day: Samsung Galaxy S3, Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Motorola Moto X, LG G2, Sony Xperia Z, HTC One, Motorola Droid Razr Ultra

Android 4.4 KitKat

android kitkatIntroduced: October 31, 2013

Key features in this version of Android: Advanced Photo Editor, Better Visuals, Better Multitasking, Smarter Caller ID, Cloud Printing, Better Performance (with 512 MB RAM), Screen recording, Easily backup files to cloud services, Increased battery life, Supports wearable devices

Notable devices of the day:

  • Nexus Devices: Nexus 5 (first device to roll out with KitKat), Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10
  • Motorola: Droid Ultra, Droid Maxx, Droid Mini and Moto X
  • HTC devices: HTC One (Google Play Edition), HTC One (Original locked and unlocked), HTC One Mini, HTC One Max
  • Samsung: Samsung Galaxy S4

If you already have a Nexus 5 make sure to answer our updated poll.
Do you miss something? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

Source: AndroidGuys, IBTimes