It’s astounding to think that Android has only been around for six years, but in the computer world, this is a huge amount of time. In addition to the exponential improvement of hardware features such as RAM and CPU as one would expect, Android has totally revolutionized the cell phone. Today we’ll discover together how the OS has become the most popular mobile operating system in the entire world, all the way up to Android 5.0 Lollipop.
Android didn’t create the first smartphone. In fact, BlackBerry could perhaps be considered the first, thanks to their innovative feature to come out in 2000 allowing users to read emails, see attachments and surf the internet. At that time however, the phone's operating system was closed and unwilling to evolve.
The will to evolve was later carried out by Andy Rubin in 2003, with the help of other big names, when he founded Android Inc., a company which he defined would allow ''mobile devices [to be] more aware of the location and preferences of their own.''
Rubin and his start-ups were able to offer a new type of mobile operating system: a simple and functional open source platform (based on the Linux kernel), equipped with a series of tools designed to make life easier for developers, which was ultimately intended on being a system free for anyone who wanted to use it.
This aspect was enough to convince Larry Page, founder of Google, to jump on this new project, even though they were aware that it could disrupt the company's business strategy of focusing primarily on research services.
In 2005, Google acquired Android Inc. and the Google Mobile Division was born. The world watched this event with skepticism and curiosity that we can now define as almost historic. How could the company venture into a market already well established by Microsoft, with Windows Mobile, and especially the new Apple iPhone?
Two years later, Google came up with an incredible strategic move where they offered 10 million USD to developers who would make the best Android apps from the first public version of the Android SDK. At this point, Google’s intentions became a lot clearer: they didn’t just want to build another iPhone, but a device with a flexible and adaptable system different to the Apple OS. It would be a software ecosystem as independent as possible from hardware and open to the world of developers, and by doing so, truly embracing the ambitions of Rubin.
Finally, in September 2008, T-Mobile announced the T-Mobile G1, the first smartphone based on Android. About a month later, Google released the Android 1.0 source code under the Apache license. It then became available to anyone, and it’s because of this that we are able to flash custom ROMs on our Android devices today.
The rest of the story is already better known, so I won’t bore you with other dates and events. Instead I'm going to let you retrace the history of the Android updates. Each new release represents a significant evolutionary step and are now points of reference for the smartphone market.
In case you never really caught on, each version was in alphabetical order and named after a candy or dessert.
Android 1.5 - Cupcake
Improvement of the camera (start and acquisition).
Increase in GPS position speed detection
Automatic loading of videos on YouTube, and Picasa.
Android 1.6 - Donut
The box for quick search and voice search
Indicator for battery usage
Grouping of the camera and gallery apps and shooting mode addition
Android 2.0 - Eclair
Multiple accounts for email and contact synchronization.
Bluetooth 2.1 support
New user interface for the browser and HTML5 support.
New functions for the calendar app
Android 2.2 - Froyo
Support for creating hotspots (sharing a connection via WIFI)
Adobe Flash 10.1
"Widget guide" addition that helps you learn the features Android
Android 2.3 - Gingerbread
Interface revised for easier and faster user experience
New keyboard for faster text input
Selecting text features, copy/paste
Integrated Internet calls
Android 3.0 - Honeycomb
Tablet version, interface optimized for larger screens
Improved multitasking, notification management, customization and widgets on the home screen
Added tethering via Bluetooth
Built-in support for easy transfer of media files to your PC
Android 4.0 - Ice Cream Sandwich
New font (Roboto)
Possibility of triggering a picture with a smile
Adding functionality such as managing folders, bookmarks and capture screenshots
Swipe addition to hide notifications, close web pages and more
Support for Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth HDP and Android Beam
Android 4.1 - Jelly Bean
Faster, smoother, more responsive to inputs
Google Now, voice dictation offline
Improved Android Beam
Updates to the app improved and faster
Android 4.4 - KitKat
Support for Bluetooth MAP
New framework for transitions in the user interface
Support for wireless printing
Optimization of memory and touch screen for faster multitasking
Android 5.0 Lollipop
The latest Android update is Android 5.0 Lollipop, released October 15th by Google along side of the Nexus 6 and the Nexus 9. Android 5.0 Lollipop brings a huge user interface makeover which now closely follows Material Design. As opposed to KitKat, the design changes have been evenly distributed throughout the phone’s system.
In addition to a brand new look, Lollipop includes many new and exciting features, like Tap & Go (easy data transfer to your new phone via NFC), floating notifications, built-in battery saver, encryption, multiple user profiles and a smarter Google Now. Of course, Google also included a new Easter Egg which pays homage to one of the year’s most popular games, Flappy Bird. Instead of the bird, you must control the little Android robot along a landscape of multi-colored lollipops! Android Lollipop is definitely much more vibrant, colorful and flat than any other Android version.