Android predates its main competitor iOS, by several years, and its origins are a little more complicated. Created in October of 2003 by four programmers in California, and was purchased by Google for $50 million in 2005.
Google knew that they had something hot. before the release of the first Android phone in 2007, the project was pretty secretive about what it was doing. With Blackberry and iPhone dominating the cellular scene, they needed a way of getting their foot in the door. So they released Android as a free and open source project.
While it was effective, this makes the software landscape rocky and confusing. It’s easy to get lost when you’re looking through the depths of Android’s past, because often times vendors would remove everything “Google” from the phone itself and start completely new, distributing their own software under the name Android.
Google has released eight major versions of their Android operating system, each one coming with its own respective improvements to quality. Every new release of Android is named after a dessert, in alphabetical order.
While it’s safe to say that the first version of Android – Android 1 – was ahead of its time and had a considerable amount more to offer than its competitors, it was a bit of a mess. With a sloppy, clumsy interface and buggy control scheme, it was clearly just getting started, not yet in its polished prime.
The next Android releases were “Eclair, Froyo, and Gingerbread” in quick succession. Android was still clunky but user friendly, still winning against other top mobile contenders where features were concerned. But it was still slightly slower than iPhone, and still a little “uncomfortable.”
Android hit a bit of a snag when the iPad stepped into the ring. Where Apple sported specific apps built for the iPad’s screen, Android required all apps on all of its devices to meet any resolution or screen sizes. But app creators did little to meet those specifications and instead produced apps that only worked for screens about three inches wide, which looked ridiculous when stretched across the tablet’s nine to ten inch screens.
Android 3, otherwise known as “Honeycomb” was a release that never really caught on and no one really talks about it much. It was feature rich and the interface was optimized for tablets, but phone users were left with the old interface and lots of new apps that ran slowly and were a bit of an inconvenience. It died out relatively quick.
In its desperation to close the gap that’d been dug between tablets and phones, Google came out with Android 4, “Ice Cream Sandwich.” It was successful, coming out polished, visually appealing and finally – a lot quicker than it ever had been before.
“Jellybean,” another version of Android 4, was Google’s attempt to focus on improving functionality, and the user interface, and for the most part it worked. This is where Android really hit its stride.
“KitKat,” a continuation of Android 4, allowed Google’s mobile operating system to run on more devices with larger screens making it truly competitive with iOS.
Android 5 was “Lollipop,” and it improved the aesthetic of the interface, and it introduced the material design we’re all familiar with today.
The following two versions of Android, “Marshmallow” and “Nougat,” maintained the material design of the former and primarily brought about performance improvements, such as longer battery life.
The newest version of Android, “Oreo,” while being an improvement over previous versions, also saw Android being used by almost ninety percent of cellphones and tablets. Not bad for an upstart operating system created by four guys in California.
With Android holding such a high percentage of the mobile market, it’s safe to say that it’s not going anywhere soon. Only time will tell what kind of improvements and upgrades Google will make to this operating system, but as far as we can tell the sky is the limit.