Jump to content


Photo

Android: A visual history


  • Please log in to reply
20 replies to this topic

#1 Reimar

Reimar

    Mr. Imperfect

  • Global Moderators
  • 3,185 posts
  • LocationSamut Prakarn (Thailand)

Posted 08 December 2011 - 09:01 AM

Android: A visual history

By Chris Ziegler on December 7, 2011 11:05 am

Google’s Android operating system has undergone a pretty incredible metamorphosis in the three short years since it debuted on the T-Mobile G1. Think about it: three years, eight major releases. Eight. To put that in perspective, there have only been ten major consumer-grade releases of Windows (give or take, depending on how you count) in over twenty-five years of retail availability. You could make a pretty convincing argument that no consumer technology in history has evolved as quickly as the smartphone, and Android has been at the very center of that evolution.

With the release of Android 4.0 — Ice Cream Sandwich — on Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus, we wanted to take a look back through the years at how Andy Rubin’s brainchild has evolved into the industry titan that it is today. What’s changed? What has (sometimes stubbornly) stayed the same?

Table of contents

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
ANDROID 1.1
1.5 "CUPCAKE"
1.6 "DONUT"
2.0 / 2.1 "ECLAIR"
2.2 "FROYO"
2.3 "GINGERBREAD"
3.X "HONEYCOMB"
4.0 "ICE CREAM SANDWICH"
COMMENTS

THE ANDROID ERA OFFICIALLY BEGAN ON OCTOBER 22ND, 2008, WHEN THE T-MOBILE G1 LAUNCHED IN THE UNITED

Posted Image


The Android era officially began on October 22nd, 2008, when the T-Mobile G1 launched in the United States. Initially, many features that we couldn't live without today were missing — an on-screen keyboard, multitouch capability, and paid apps, for instance — but the foundation was in place, and a few lasting trademarks of the platform debuted on those very first G1s to roll off the assembly line:

The pull-down notification window. Though these early phones clearly weren't without their flaws, it was almost universally acknowledged that Android nailed the notification system on day one — it would take iOS another three years before launching a design as effective at triaging messages and alerts coming from users' ever-growing collection of mobile apps. The secret was in the G1's unique status bar, which could be dragged downward to reveal every notification in a single list: text messages, voicemails, alarms, and so on. The fundamental concept lives on (in a refined form) even in version 4.0 today.

Home screen widgets. If you had to pick an enduring differentiator for Android as a phone platform — a differentiator it can still claim against iOS 5 and, to some extent, Windows Phone 7.5 — it'd be rich support for widgets on the home screen. Google had big plans for widgets from the very beginning, but there was one big hang-up at launch: developers couldn't create their own widgets.

Deep, rich Gmail integration. By the time the G1 was released, Gmail had long since supported POP and IMAP for integration with mobile email clients — but the problem is that neither one of those protocols are well-suited for supporting some of Gmail's more unique features like archival and labeling. Android 1.0 fixed that in a big way, shipping with by far the best mobile Gmail experience on the market.

The Android Market. It's hard to imagine a smartphone without a centralized app store now, but when Android first shipped, it did so at the very start of the mobile app revolution. Indeed, the Android Market on those first G1s bore little resemblance to the Android Market of today: it launched with just a handful of apps (as you'd expect of an entirely new ecosystem), and didn't have the rich, multifaceted curation that has been added over the last couple versions — instead, it just had a single row of handpicked selections at the top of the app's home screen. Perhaps more importantly, it lacked support for any sort of payment system, a problem that wouldn't get fixed until the following year.

Notably, Google developed Android 1.0's UI with help from The Astonishing Tribe, a Swedish interaction design firm responsible for some truly amazing interface concepts over the years. If you look closely, you can see where TAT left its mark on the platform: the analog clock widget included in Android versions 1.0 through 2.2 read "Malmo" in small, light gray type near the bottom of the face, a tribute to TAT's hometown of Malmö, Sweden. The company would later go on to be acquired by RIM to focus solely on advancement of its BlackBerry and BBX platforms — so needless to say, Google's collaboration with TAT has come to an end.

Android 1.1
IT'S NO COINCIDENCE THAT DANGER'S HIPTOP PLATFORM, WHICH GAVE BIRTH TO THE SIDEKICK, HAD BEEN OFFERING PAINLESS, PHASED OVER-THE-AIR OS UPDATES FOR YEARS

Posted Image


The first upgrade to the Android platform came in February of 2009, a little over three months after the launch of the G1. Version 1.1 wasn't a revolution by any stretch of the imagination — it patched a fairly lengthy list of bugs, primarily — but if nothing else, it validated Android's ability to roll out updates over the air and make them nearly effortless for users to install. At the time, that was a big deal, and it was something that no other major smartphone platform was doing. (It's no coincidence that Danger's Hiptop platform, which gave birth to the Sidekick, had been offering painless, phased over-the-air OS updates for years. Android's Andy Rubin had previously founded Danger.)

Dessert is served: 1.5 "Cupcake"
IN RETROSPECT, IT'S AMAZING TO THINK THAT GOOGLE COULD'VE SHIPPED ANDROID WITHOUT ANY SORT OF SOFT KEYBOARD

Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image


Android 1.5 — perhaps better known by its codename, Cupcake — marked much more of a milestone. It wasn't just about the fact that it added several hotly-anticipated features that were critical to keeping the platform competitive, it was also the first version to use Google's "sweet" naming convention: every major release since Cupcake has been named after a confection in alphabetical order. Apart from a couple tricky letters like "X," we'd expect the trend to continue for a while.

In many ways, Cupcake was about refinement, polishing some rough edges on the user interface that had originally launched. Some of these changes were nearly imperceptible if you weren't looking for them. For instance, the standard Google search widget — a staple on many users' home screens — gained a hint of transparency, and the app drawer was decorated with a subtle weave pattern beneath the icons.

Hover over the image below to get a sense of just how subtle these changes were. If you used a device running 1.1 and 1.5 in succession, you might never notice anything; in reality, though, everything from text alignment to shading on the status bar had gone under the knife.

Most G1 users probably flew past those UI tweaks without noticing them, though, because the extensive list of new features Google had thrown in was far more exciting, noticeable, and immediately relevant in day-to-day use:

An on-screen keyboard. In retrospect, it's amazing to think that Google could've shipped Android without any sort of soft keyboard, but that's exactly what it did. It helps explain why the first Android device at retail was a landscape QWERTY slider, and it also explains why it wasn't until Cupcake was released (in April 2009, some half a year after the G1 shipped) that we saw the first touchscreen-only phone on the market, the HTC Magic.

Posted Image


In conjunction with the soft keyboard support, Google took a bold step: it integrated the hooks necessary for third-party developers to create their own replacement keyboards, which is a capability that continues to differentiate Android from competing platforms even today — neither iOS nor Windows Phone support it. At the time of Cupcake's release, the official Android soft keyboard was considered by many to lag iOS for accuracy and speed, which ultimately led OEMs like HTC to quickly develop replacements on their own devices. Indeed, it was one of the first forms of "skinning" Android would see.

Extensible widgets. While Android 1.0 and 1.1 technically included widgets, their full potential had yet to be realized because Google hadn't exposed the SDK to developers — the only widgets you had available were the few included in the box. That changed in 1.5, and today, many (if not most) of the third-party applications on the platform ship with one or more widgets available to the user. It's a big deal for Android, which continues to enjoy the most flexible, extensible home screen of any mobile platform — and that title traces its roots to the addition of this feature in Cupcake.

Clipboard improvements. Android had a rather rough road to gaining "full" support for copy and paste. The platform technically supported it from day one — but it was largely limited to text fields and links. That meant that text couldn't be copied out of browser windows or Gmail, two places where you're very likely to want to do it. Though full clipboard capability wouldn't come to Gmail for several more versions, Cupcake added support to the browser, allowing you to copy plain text out of a page.

Video capture and playback. It's difficult to imagine a smartphone shipping without any support for shooting video now, but that's the situation that T-Mobile G1 buyers originally found themselves in. Cupcake would fix the problem, but like Android's built-in soft keyboard, the operating system's built-in camera interface became one of the more reviled parts of the platform — and it's a part that OEMs quickly replaced with their own improved interfaces, frequently adding support for additional scenes, modes, options, and conveniences like touch-to-focus.

And a lot more. Miscellaneous updates included batch operations in Gmail (you couldn't delete or archive multiple emails at once prior to 1.5), upload support for YouTube and Picasa, and ubiquitous access to contacts' Google Talk status throughout the platform in places like the Contacts screen, the Messaging application, and from Gmail. (In a way, this feature —synchronization of rich contact information across multiple apps and screens — would foretell the direction that Android was moving, particularly in 2.0.)

To read the full History of Android, please go to the Source: The Verge

This post has been promoted to an article
  • sumanx, Droidready, loop and 1 other like this

Mr. Imperfect
from
LOS (Land of Smile (Thailand))

SLD%20Zz1.jpg

Please do NOT hijack my signature picture. Thanks.


#2 swimboycdf

swimboycdf

    Newbie

  • Jr. Member
  • Pip
  • 3 posts

Posted 06 January 2012 - 12:15 PM

Nice Article! Thanks for posting!

#3 way

way

    Newbie

  • Jr. Member
  • Pip
  • 5 posts

Posted 09 January 2012 - 10:54 PM

Today is a good day, very nice.

#4 essjayar2

essjayar2

    Advanced Member

  • Jr. Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 40 posts
  • LocationWales

Posted 18 January 2012 - 02:41 PM

Is it worth pointing out when certain features appeared -- a kind of dual timeline with iOs? Lol, nah!

I never had the G1 but had the next one, Hero, and the community provided most of the fun :D It was all HTC then, but if you really see what's changed in it's short life, it's been mostly hardware advances with software tweaks now and then. Run 1.5/1.6 and 4.0 together and they're recognizably Android. The hardwares better, everythings bigger, and ICS has had a makeover, but it's the same beast. "Under the hood" there's better improvements, app management/memory management etc and even technologies like LTE (US), NFC (kinda) are getting incorporated. It's evolving - mainly through handset competition (who'se the fastest? slimmest? best screen?) - but I wonder what the next real game-changer would be.
Zenithink ZT-280 Z102 A9 R10 ZePad (among other names...)
[ROM] Zenithink's Official ICS 4.03 Beta (mostly working, some small bugs)
Essentials: ES File Explorer, Titanium Backup, Elixir2, Google Music, Can't decide on a fave vid player, Mobo?
Tablet App: Endgadget Tab, Swiftkey Tablet, Google Currents, Feedly/Pulse...
Tab Gamers: Great Little War Game, and the usual - e.g. the Angrys :-)

Posted Image Posted Image

#5 folium

folium

    Newbie

  • Jr. Member
  • Pip
  • 3 posts

Posted 13 March 2012 - 01:15 AM

samsung phone is crappy, I cannot play most of games..

#6 folium

folium

    Newbie

  • Jr. Member
  • Pip
  • 3 posts

Posted 13 March 2012 - 01:17 AM

good introduction! It is amazing

#7 folium

folium

    Newbie

  • Jr. Member
  • Pip
  • 3 posts

Posted 13 March 2012 - 01:18 AM

GOOD I LIKE IT

#8 wasted

wasted

    Newbie

  • Jr. Member
  • Pip
  • 5 posts

Posted 14 March 2012 - 04:52 PM

Excellent article for those that dont know much about Android and for those that do.

#9 antuntun

antuntun

    Newbie

  • Jr. Member
  • Pip
  • 4 posts

Posted 07 April 2012 - 04:32 PM

nice,like it

#10 Droidready

Droidready

    Newbie

  • Jr. Member
  • Pip
  • 4 posts

Posted 13 June 2012 - 04:44 AM

After ICS, it should be named "BILL" to it's OS. Eaten enough, now, time to pay the bill. (Joking..!)

Good compilation and presentation. Thanks for this detail and historic post. Voted + to keep it up.

#11 SoftwareGuy

SoftwareGuy

    Member

  • Jr. Member
  • PipPip
  • 17 posts

Posted 22 June 2012 - 01:48 AM

After ICS, it should be named "BILL" to it's OS. Eaten enough, now, time to pay the bill. (Joking..!)

Good compilation and presentation. Thanks for this detail and historic post. Voted + to keep it up.


Yeah, but pay the bill to whom? Oracle? :p
Nice trip down memory lane though.

#12 Leekoid

Leekoid

    Newbie

  • Jr. Member
  • Pip
  • 6 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 01:33 PM

Well i didnt know all that :) Good read!
Zenithink ZT280 C91 Upgrade - Android 4.0.3 ICS
Capacitive 10.2" Screen, ARM Cortex A9 1Ghz Single Core CPU, 1GB Ram, 8GB Internal NAND Flash, 8GB Sandisk MicroSD, USB Bluetooth Adaptor and Bluetooth GPS Receiver
Running BlueGPS and Sygic Navigation software
or.... sometimes quite happily playing Mario64 using Mupen64Plus :)

#13 surfplattan

surfplattan

    Newbie

  • Jr. Member
  • Pip
  • 6 posts

Posted 13 July 2012 - 05:28 PM

Excellent article, thank you!

#14 surfplattan

surfplattan

    Newbie

  • Jr. Member
  • Pip
  • 6 posts

Posted 13 July 2012 - 05:29 PM

Excellent article

#15 GTRElectronics

GTRElectronics

    Member

  • Jr. Member
  • PipPip
  • 16 posts
  • LocationScotland

Posted 05 January 2013 - 12:14 PM

Really brilliant Article, well done!

As a follow up it would be really cool if Apple's IOS firmware was on a timeline along with Android's to show the evolution of both...

#16 troydoid

troydoid

    Newbie

  • Jr. Member
  • Pip
  • 6 posts

Posted 12 January 2013 - 02:08 AM

good article...I'm new in android phone :D

Edited by troydoid, 12 January 2013 - 02:08 AM.


#17 jprizal

jprizal

    Member

  • Jr. Member
  • PipPip
  • 27 posts

Posted 12 January 2013 - 07:11 AM

great share..good article..

#18 jerrymeyer58

jerrymeyer58

    Newbie

  • Jr. Member
  • Pip
  • 7 posts

Posted 20 March 2013 - 09:46 PM

It would have been nice to have anote on the foot print of all the dif. Versions really liked the info.

#19 tarokun888

tarokun888

    Newbie

  • Jr. Member
  • Pip
  • 3 posts

Posted 22 March 2013 - 01:06 PM

A nice addition to the article would be the advantages and disadvantages of using Android.

#20 DorisD

DorisD

    Newbie

  • Jr. Member
  • Pip
  • 3 posts

Posted 30 March 2013 - 04:58 PM

Android: A visual history

By Chris Ziegler on December 7, 2011 11:05 am

Google’s Android operating system has undergone a pretty incredible metamorphosis in the three short years since it debuted on the T-Mobile G1. Think about it: three years, eight major releases. Eight. To put that in perspective, there have only been ten major consumer-grade releases of Windows (give or take, depending on how you count) in over twenty-five years of retail availability. You could make a pretty convincing argument that no consumer technology in history has evolved as quickly as the smartphone, and Android has been at the very center of that evolution.

With the release of Android 4.0 — Ice Cream Sandwich — on Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus, we wanted to take a look back through the years at how Andy Rubin’s brainchild has evolved into the industry titan that it is today. What’s changed? What has (sometimes stubbornly) stayed the same?

Table of contents

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
ANDROID 1.1
1.5 "CUPCAKE"
1.6 "DONUT"
2.0 / 2.1 "ECLAIR"
2.2 "FROYO"
2.3 "GINGERBREAD"
3.X "HONEYCOMB"
4.0 "ICE CREAM SANDWICH"
COMMENTS

THE ANDROID ERA OFFICIALLY BEGAN ON OCTOBER 22ND, 2008, WHEN THE T-MOBILE G1 LAUNCHED IN THE UNITED

Posted Image


The Android era officially began on October 22nd, 2008, when the T-Mobile G1 launched in the United States. Initially, many features that we couldn't live without today were missing — an on-screen keyboard, multitouch capability, and paid apps, for instance — but the foundation was in place, and a few lasting trademarks of the platform debuted on those very first G1s to roll off the assembly line:

The pull-down notification window. Though these early phones clearly weren't without their flaws, it was almost universally acknowledged that Android nailed the notification system on day one — it would take iOS another three years before launching a design as effective at triaging messages and alerts coming from users' ever-growing collection of mobile apps. The secret was in the G1's unique status bar, which could be dragged downward to reveal every notification in a single list: text messages, voicemails, alarms, and so on. The fundamental concept lives on (in a refined form) even in version 4.0 today.

Home screen widgets. If you had to pick an enduring differentiator for Android as a phone platform — a differentiator it can still claim against iOS 5 and, to some extent, Windows Phone 7.5 — it'd be rich support for widgets on the home screen. Google had big plans for widgets from the very beginning, but there was one big hang-up at launch: developers couldn't create their own widgets.

Deep, rich Gmail integration. By the time the G1 was released, Gmail had long since supported POP and IMAP for integration with mobile email clients — but the problem is that neither one of those protocols are well-suited for supporting some of Gmail's more unique features like archival and labeling. Android 1.0 fixed that in a big way, shipping with by far the best mobile Gmail experience on the market.

The Android Market. It's hard to imagine a smartphone without a centralized app store now, but when Android first shipped, it did so at the very start of the mobile app revolution. Indeed, the Android Market on those first G1s bore little resemblance to the Android Market of today: it launched with just a handful of apps (as you'd expect of an entirely new ecosystem), and didn't have the rich, multifaceted curation that has been added over the last couple versions — instead, it just had a single row of handpicked selections at the top of the app's home screen. Perhaps more importantly, it lacked support for any sort of payment system, a problem that wouldn't get fixed until the following year.

Notably, Google developed Android 1.0's UI with help from The Astonishing Tribe, a Swedish interaction design firm responsible for some truly amazing interface concepts over the years. If you look closely, you can see where TAT left its mark on the platform: the analog clock widget included in Android versions 1.0 through 2.2 read "Malmo" in small, light gray type near the bottom of the face, a tribute to TAT's hometown of Malmö, Sweden. The company would later go on to be acquired by RIM to focus solely on advancement of its BlackBerry and BBX platforms — so needless to say, Google's collaboration with TAT has come to an end.

Android 1.1
IT'S NO COINCIDENCE THAT DANGER'S HIPTOP PLATFORM, WHICH GAVE BIRTH TO THE SIDEKICK, HAD BEEN OFFERING PAINLESS, PHASED OVER-THE-AIR OS UPDATES FOR YEARS

Posted Image


The first upgrade to the Android platform came in February of 2009, a little over three months after the launch of the G1. Version 1.1 wasn't a revolution by any stretch of the imagination — it patched a fairly lengthy list of bugs, primarily — but if nothing else, it validated Android's ability to roll out updates over the air and make them nearly effortless for users to install. At the time, that was a big deal, and it was something that no other major smartphone platform was doing. (It's no coincidence that Danger's Hiptop platform, which gave birth to the Sidekick, had been offering painless, phased over-the-air OS updates for years. Android's Andy Rubin had previously founded Danger.)

Dessert is served: 1.5 "Cupcake"
IN RETROSPECT, IT'S AMAZING TO THINK THAT GOOGLE COULD'VE SHIPPED ANDROID WITHOUT ANY SORT OF SOFT KEYBOARD

Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image


Android 1.5 — perhaps better known by its codename, Cupcake — marked much more of a milestone. It wasn't just about the fact that it added several hotly-anticipated features that were critical to keeping the platform competitive, it was also the first version to use Google's "sweet" naming convention: every major release since Cupcake has been named after a confection in alphabetical order. Apart from a couple tricky letters like "X," we'd expect the trend to continue for a while.

In many ways, Cupcake was about refinement, polishing some rough edges on the user interface that had originally launched. Some of these changes were nearly imperceptible if you weren't looking for them. For instance, the standard Google search widget — a staple on many users' home screens — gained a hint of transparency, and the app drawer was decorated with a subtle weave pattern beneath the icons.

Hover over the image below to get a sense of just how subtle these changes were. If you used a device running 1.1 and 1.5 in succession, you might never notice anything; in reality, though, everything from text alignment to shading on the status bar had gone under the knife.

Most G1 users probably flew past those UI tweaks without noticing them, though, because the extensive list of new features Google had thrown in was far more exciting, noticeable, and immediately relevant in day-to-day use:

An on-screen keyboard. In retrospect, it's amazing to think that Google could've shipped Android without any sort of soft keyboard, but that's exactly what it did. It helps explain why the first Android device at retail was a landscape QWERTY slider, and it also explains why it wasn't until Cupcake was released (in April 2009, some half a year after the G1 shipped) that we saw the first touchscreen-only phone on the market, the HTC Magic.

Posted Image


In conjunction with the soft keyboard support, Google took a bold step: it integrated the hooks necessary for third-party developers to create their own replacement keyboards, which is a capability that continues to differentiate Android from competing platforms even today — neither iOS nor Windows Phone support it. At the time of Cupcake's release, the official Android soft keyboard was considered by many to lag iOS for accuracy and speed, which ultimately led OEMs like HTC to quickly develop replacements on their own devices. Indeed, it was one of the first forms of "skinning" Android would see.

Extensible widgets. While Android 1.0 and 1.1 technically included widgets, their full potential had yet to be realized because Google hadn't exposed the SDK to developers — the only widgets you had available were the few included in the box. That changed in 1.5, and today, many (if not most) of the third-party applications on the platform ship with one or more widgets available to the user. It's a big deal for Android, which continues to enjoy the most flexible, extensible home screen of any mobile platform — and that title traces its roots to the addition of this feature in Cupcake.

Clipboard improvements. Android had a rather rough road to gaining "full" support for copy and paste. The platform technically supported it from day one — but it was largely limited to text fields and links. That meant that text couldn't be copied out of browser windows or Gmail, two places where you're very likely to want to do it. Though full clipboard capability wouldn't come to Gmail for several more versions, Cupcake added support to the browser, allowing you to copy plain text out of a page.

Video capture and playback. It's difficult to imagine a smartphone shipping without any support for shooting video now, but that's the situation that T-Mobile G1 buyers originally found themselves in. Cupcake would fix the problem, but like Android's built-in soft keyboard, the operating system's built-in camera interface became one of the more reviled parts of the platform — and it's a part that OEMs quickly replaced with their own improved interfaces, frequently adding support for additional scenes, modes, options, and conveniences like touch-to-focus.

And a lot more. Miscellaneous updates included batch operations in Gmail (you couldn't delete or archive multiple emails at once prior to 1.5), upload support for YouTube and Picasa, and ubiquitous access to contacts' Google Talk status throughout the platform in places like the Contacts screen, the Messaging application, and from Gmail. (In a way, this feature —synchronization of rich contact information across multiple apps and screens — would foretell the direction that Android was moving, particularly in 2.0.)

To read the full History of Android, please go to the Source: The Verge

This post has been promoted to an article


A nice addition to the article would be the advantages and disadvantages of using Android.

Fascinating history! Thanks for the time and trouble posting it. :-)