Evolution of Android: From 1.0 to Jelly Bean [Geek History Lessons]

Danny Stieben 09-07-2012

android historyThere is absolutely no denying that the Android mobile operating system has gone through a lot and climbed to new heights within a few years of its existence. Today, some sources claim that all versions of Android combined currently take up a larger market share than iOS.


Indeed, the story of how Android came to be and evolved through the years is something any geek will be interested in as Android’s popularity didn’t happen overnight. After many doubts and hopes for the operating system, it’s finally showing that it is very capable and that it has a very bright future in store, which is something iOS can’t say with all of its heart.

Android 1.x

android history

Android 1.0 is where it all began. With the HTC Dream as the first Android phone in the world (sometimes better known as the T-Mobile G1), it set the framework for what Android could do. It enabled camera support, WiFi, Bluetooth, folders, a web browser, notifications, voice dialing, YouTube, alarm clock, gallery, instant messaging, media player, and the whole Google apps array and Android Market. It really was the basic beginning, and already fulfilled a lot of what smartphones should be able to do.

The Android 1.x releases after that weren’t nearly as major as Android 1.0 itself, but they are still worth noting. After the big initial release, Android 1.1 focused mainly on fixing bugs and improving the API. The only noteworthy new feature was the ability to save attachments in messages. For the next update, we jumped straight to Android 1.5, which allowed you to use different keyboards, introduced widgets for your home screen, picture and video recording in different formats, copy and paste, auto-rotation, and more.

It was also the first release which had a codename, dubbed Cupcake. Android 1.6, the last release of the series and dubbed Donut, included numerous updates to text, voice, and searching. The release also supported WVGA screen resolutions, which is equivalent to 800 x 480. Throughout the whole series, the look of Android remained largely the same.


Android 2.x

history of android

Android 2.0, codenamed Éclair, brought in plenty of changes. Those included extended account sync for multiple accounts, exchange email support, Bluetooth 2.1, new camera features, an improved Android keyboard, optimizations for speed, a revamped user interface, a refreshed browser with HTML5 support, and support for live wallpapers. Android 2.1 served mainly as a bug fix release which included a changed API, so it shared the Éclair codename.

Android 2.2, nicknamed Froyo, brought in some highly sought-after features which left plenty of Android fanboys with their mouths watering.  Not only was this release using a new kernel (as customary with every Android release), but the codebase offered many performance improvements, the addition of the JIT (just-in-time) compiler for even more speed, integration of the V8 JavaScript engine in the browser, support for push notifications, better Exchange support, USB tethering and WiFi hotspot, voice dialing over Bluetooth, support for screens of up to 320 ppi, and Adobe Flash support.

11 months later, Android 2.3 was released with the name Gingerbread. This release also brought plenty of improvements, but some of the cooler ones included support for resolutions of 1280 x 768 and higher, SIP Internet calls, support for multiple cameras, enhanced copy and paste functionality, revamped UI, voice and video support for Google Talk, garbage collection for increased performance, and support for near field communication. Notably, the 2.3.7 release offered Google Wallet support for the Nexus S 4G.


Android 3.x

history of android

Android 3.x, where all the releases in this series were dubbed Honeycomb, were meant for tablets only. This series had a completely different look with an entirely new user interface. Many of the improvements made were meant to make using a tablet easier and to use its resources more efficiently. As tablets are bigger than smartphones, there’s more space to pack in better hardware, and Android needed to take advantage of this additional processing power.

Android 4.x

android history

Android 4.0. nicknamed Ice Cream Sandwich or ICS for short, was the next major version for smartphones. The look of the user interface was completely overhauled, and the release also introduced the ability to use software buttons on the touchscreen instead of hardware buttons for things like Home, Back, and Menu. Performance was also significantly improved, and the UI portion of the operating system was hardware-rendered. It also introduced WiFi Direct and 1080p video recording. More Android 4.0 features can be found here 8 Cool New and Revised Features in Android 4.0 Ice-Cream Sandwich It’s a new year, and we have a new version of Android. Known popularly by the code name Ice Cream Sandwich, Android 4.0 is an important update to Google’s mobile operating system. It will be... Read More .


After all this progress, we finally arrive at the recently revealed Android 4.1, codenamed Jelly Bean. This release aims to improve the user interface and performance, using items such as touch anticipation, enhanced vsync timing, triple buffering in the graphics pipelines, enhancements to Android Beam, addition of Google Now, multichannel audio, and USB audio. The overall experience is supposed to be “buttery smooth” so that the user feels the device responding to input immediately.


Android has indeed come a very long way, but the road which it has traveled down has been quite a successful one. No matter what you may think about Google, Android would not have come as far without its backing and development effort, and I give Google some big props for staying committed to a project like this. I’m very excited to see how Jelly Bean will feel when it will hopefully get pushed to my phone, but I’m also excited about what else Google can conjure up in future Android releases.

Be sure to check out our amazing MakeUseOf Android guide The Android Beginner's Guide: How to Set Up Your First Smartphone If you're just getting started with your first Android smartphone, this in-depth guide has everything you need to know. Read More .

What’s your favorite Android feature? What would you like to see added next? Let us know in the comments!


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  1. Ankit Vegad
    October 25, 2016 at 4:36 am

    Really, Android has come a long way and looking forward to know the future versions that will release on Android

  2. Nicholas
    October 25, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    I saw a cool infographic the other day about this same thing, the evolution of Android. I thought it was pretty cool and thought maybe you'd like it as well since you wrote a whole blog article about it! Just wanted to pass it along to my other fellow Android fans. Hope you enjoy it like I did.

    [Broken URL Removed]

  3. Leland Whitlock
    September 13, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Nice history lesson. Android has come a long way in a few short years...

  4. Nart Barileva
    August 28, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Oh I remember the old Android and its annoyances ;)

  5. Mani Ahmed
    July 20, 2012 at 11:57 am

    i think i have worked and used every thing after 1.6 donut, eclair, froyo, gingerbread, honey comb, ice cream sandwich and just waiting to get jelly beans on my i9000.

  6. Shawn Ashree Baba
    July 18, 2012 at 1:02 am

    Android has certainly come a long way.

  7. Spencer Vincent
    July 16, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    For some reason my phone is running Jellybean 4.2? That aint right?

    • Danny Stieben
      July 19, 2012 at 8:49 pm

      Haha yeah, that doesn't sound right! I'm not sure what to say! What phone are you using?

  8. Joel Lee
    July 10, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Always fun to learn about the development history of well-known products. Thanks for this writeup.

    • Danny Stieben
      July 19, 2012 at 8:56 pm

      No problem Joel!

  9. Bahr?m
    July 10, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Are you kidding?
    It's July 2012 and with all the statistics out there, you still treat facts with suspicion? Some sources "claim" android has a bigger market share than iOS?
    Just visit Wikipedia for Pete's sake. Soon Android will have a bigger cell phone OS market share than all other ones combined.

    • Danny Stieben
      July 19, 2012 at 8:56 pm

      Haha sorry that my writing is a little conservative. :)

    • Flavio
      July 19, 2012 at 9:11 pm

      "Soon Android will have a bigger cell phone OS market share than all other ones combined"

      That has happened already, considering that Android is currently on 51.8% of all smartphones the USA (source: Nielsen) and getting close to 60% globally (source: IDC).

  10. ksavai
    July 10, 2012 at 6:22 am

    On android since 2.2 froyo version and I must say with each release it is improved above my expectation. Waiting for 4.1 JB release to see whats in there for me

  11. Deep Patel
    July 9, 2012 at 6:04 pm


  12. Flavio
    July 9, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    The first two versions of Android actually did have an unofficial codename (not used for trademark reasons), which was more Android related than the desserts are. They were respectively Android 1.0 Astro and Android 1.1 Bender. And that's also why the first dessert has been chosen with the letter C.

    • Danny Stieben
      July 19, 2012 at 8:57 pm

      Awesome! I didn't know about that. Thanks for sharing!

    • Dominic Chang
      July 24, 2012 at 7:05 am

      So the next would begin with a K, what desserts start with a K?

      • Vipul Jain
        September 13, 2012 at 3:15 am

        It will be either Key Lime Pie or Kandy Kane as per speculations till now. No official word though :D