Android: all versions developed since 2008 to date

Android is the operating system developed by Google for mobile devices, born in 2008 and arrived today at the latest version, 9.0 Pie, released in 2019.

It is an embedded software, that is, made to run only on some of devices and, therefore, not modifiable by users.

All versions of Android were developed in Java, on embedded Linux type systems. Although the core of the software is constrained through copyleft licenses (which protect, for example, Google Play applications) in reality much of the code is freely available in open source mode. In this way, many companies can customize the operating system, according to the needs of their devices, thanks to the Android Open Source Project.

Currently Android is used by 62% of mobile devices, against a market share of 34% of iOS systems, installed on Apple devices such as iPhone and iPad.

The Android project was born in 2003 as the result of the work of a private company, acquired in 2005 by Google: collaboration that led to the birth of the first version of Android for mobile, developed on the Linux kernel. I sistemi operativi di allora presentavano, però, diversi problemi, sia per quanto riguarda la sicurezza, che le prestazioni.
Criticità che vennero corrette con gli aggiornamenti seguenti.

Oggi Android è un software affidabile, efficiente ed estremamente versatile, con un’ampia scelta di app scaricabili gratuitamente (e a pagamento) da Google Play Store, ovvero plugin che permettono di aumentare le funzionalità di base del sistema operativo. La presenza di licenze aperte, open source, ha reso possibile un grande proliferare di applicazioni, che rappresentano un vantaggio per tutti: gli utenti possono avere a disposizione diversi servizi sul proprio device, mentre le aziende sviluppano app a costi particolarmente contenuti.

Nomi di tutte le versioni di Android in ordine di tempo

Ecco tutti i nomi dei sistemi operativi Android in ordine cronologico:

  • Android 1.5 Cupcake (27 Aprile 2009)
  • Android 1.6 Donut (15 Settembre 2009)
  • Android 2.0 – 2.1 Eclair (26 Ottobre 2009)
  • Android 2.2 – 2.2.3 Froyo (20 Maggio 2010)
  • Android 2.3 – 2.3.7 Gingerbread (6 Dicembre 2010)
  • Android 3.0 – 3.2.6 Honeycomb (22 Febbraio 2011)
  • Android 4.0 – 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich (18 Ottobre 2011)
  • Android 4.1 – 4.3.1 Jelly Bean (9 Luglio 2012)
  • Android 4.4 – 4.4.4 KitKat (31 Ottobre 2013)
  • Android 5.0 – 5.1.1 Lollipop (12 Novrembre 2014)
  • Android 6.0 – 6.0.1 Marshmallow (5 Ottobre 2015)
  • Android 7.0 – 7.1.2 Nougat (22 Agosto 2016)
  • Android 8.0 – 8.1 Oreo (21 Agosto 2017)
  • Android 9.0 Pie (August 6, 2018)

From 2008 to 2019, no less than 14 versions of Android have been released, starting with the first operating system called Android 1.5 Cupcake, and ending with the latest version: Android 9.0 Pie.

As you can see, each Android version update is distinguished by a number, which refers to the version, and the name of a dessert. This joking reference doesn't have very clear origins, however it seems that early Android developers often exchanged playful emails, due to growing enthusiasm regarding the operating system's progress.

In fact, there are also two versions that predate 1.5 Cupcake, but they are not often mentioned because the first one was never installed on a mobile device, while the second one was only installed on some not very popular devices.

These two versions are exactly 1.0, released on September 23, 2008 and 1.1, released on February 9, 2009, the latter one later nicknamed Petit Four, four small cupcakes. The name has never been official, so it's unclear if this label is totally correct, however it is often cited by authoritative sources such as Wikipedia and professional development and programming circles.

At the moment, the spread of the various Android versions sees a strong presence of 2016's Nougat, active on over 28% of mobile devices, followed by 2017's Oreo installed on 21.5% of devices, 2015's Mashmallow used by 21.3% of terminals and 2014's Lollilop on 17.9%. Sistemi operativi più anziani sono ancora utilizzati marginalmente su alcuni smartphone, tra cui la versione KitKat del 2013 sul 7,6%, Jelly Bean del 2012 sul 3% e Ice Cream Sandwich del 2011 sullo 0,3% dei dispositivi.

Android: caratteristiche e differenze tra le versioni

Le ultime 14 versioni di Android sono quelle che hanno segnato il successo del sistema operativo, diventato immediatamente il motore trainante della diffusione dei dispositivi mobili in tutto il mondo.

I vantaggi di Android sono soprattutto:

  • i bassi costi di sviluppo;
  • la possibilità di personalizzare alcune funzionalità del software;
  • la completa compatibilità;
  • l’ampia gamma di app e servizi presenti sul mercato digitale dei device mobili.

Differently from the iOS system of the Apple iPhone, bound to the terminals produced by the company, Android has allowed millions of people to access this new technology, characterized by a reduced and contained access price. The development community that was born and grew up around Android has determined its worldwide boom, making it still today the most widely used mobile operating system in the world.

Let's take a look in detail at some of the technical aspects of the various versions of Android.

Android: version 1.5 Cupcake

Released on April 27, 2009, the first official version of Android is referred to as 1.5 Cupcake. This is a historic date for the operating system, because from this moment on, the nomenclature begins with the typical names of sweets, but above all because of the enormous diffusion of this software. Version 1.5 of Android is the natural evolution of the first two systems, with the introduction of the classic on-screen keyboard, a mechanism that would soon become common on any smartphone.

Among the features there was the possibility to record small videos, obviously not with the quality present on modern devices, while for apps it was necessary to go to Android Market, the ancestor of Google Play Store, where in those years you could find some rather rudimentary but fun plugins.

Android 1.5 Cupcake supported stereo audio, bluetooth, and it was also possible to copy and paste folders, browse the internet with the Internet Explorer browser, and link images to contact numbers in the address book.

Android: 1.6 Donut

On September 15, 2009, the second version of Android, 1.6 Donut, appeared on the market. This was the first version based on the Linux kernel, and it represented a significant step forward in the technological development of mobile devices. Among the Android updates present in this version there is the quick search box, which allows you to display in the same screen all the web search results, including pages related to local searches, as well as the responsive screen resolution.

With the Donut version of Android 1.6 the operating system could be installed on any smartphone, not only on those with a standard resolution of 320 x 480 pixels.

The software in fact adapted perfectly to the specifications of the device, optimizing the proportions of the display for flawless graphics. Other new features included multilingual capabilities, image galleries, the first photo cameras and an increase in the number of apps available on the Android Market.

Android Eclair 2.0 and 2.1

Just one month later, on October 26, 2009, Android Eclair 2.0 was released, followed on December 3 of the same year by the 2.0.1 update and on January 12, 2010 by 2.1. The big star of the new operating system is the appearance of interactive Google Maps, which allow you to follow the directions by car, on foot or by public transport, creating routes in real time as a real sat nav, with a 3D display at very high resolution.

Very popular with users at the time was the customization of the homepage screen, which could be modified at will with widgets and folders, with a new resolution of 854 x 480 pixels that allowed you to insert animated backgrounds. However, the real novelty of the Android Eclair 2.0 version was the introduction of voice systems, the famous "Ok Google", with which you could write messages and search the web, simply by talking to the phone. Subsequent updates do not bring major changes, in fact they are more like technical updates of APIs.

Android Froyo 2.2 and 2.2.3

Technology in recent years moves fast, to keep up with the times and offer users operating systems that are increasingly innovative and advanced. On May 20, 2010 the Android 2.2 Froyo version was released, based on the Linux 2.6.32 kernel, followed in January and November by three technical updates, versions 2.2.1, 2.2.2 and 2.2.3, which led to the resolution of some problems related to the security of the new Google operating system. This version marked the final escalation of voice systems, which became the focus of new systems and the latest apps released on the market.

The voice functionality of smartphones with Froyo reaches a higher level, in fact it becomes possible to perform quick web searches with the voice, write notes, set the alarm for the alarm clock, mark events on the calendar and much more.

Performance is also improved, in fact Android Froyo 2.2 is 5 times more efficient and faster than the previous version, while the presence of the portable hotspot allows you to turn your device into a Wi-Fi router. Also of note is support for Microsoft Exchange, Bluetooth systems in the car and the ability to upload files to search engine applications.

Android 2.3 Gingerbread

On December 6, 2010 yet another Android update, version 2.3 Gingerbread.

This is a watershed moment, marking the introduction of advanced games on mobile devices and the spread of the app market, now able to extend the functionality of your smartphone to borders unthinkable, only a few years before.

As a result of new graphics, developers can design efficient, high-quality games that capture users' attention and are often very successful.

The presence of games and the proliferation of apps requires a lot more power, so more powerful and efficient batteries are introduced to support the increased power consumption, with charge management screens that allow you to save energy, for example by adjusting the brightness in power-saving mode. The first online payment systems also make their appearance, supported by NFC technology, Near Field Communication, which allows the transfer of data from the cell phone to the POS machine in stores.

Android 3.0 Honeycomb

Among the versions of Android we find some very funny names, such as the 3.0 Honeycomb of February 22, 2011, a sweet made of pollen and bee honey.

Still present on a marginal share of mobile devices, about 0.2% of the total, this version is the first to be optimized for both smartphones and tablets, whose market is growing rapidly in recent years.

Honeycomb easily adapts to any device, especially large ones, designed for reading, watching high-resolution videos and working.

The new settings are increasingly fast and intuitive, to speed up users' management of features, with the creation of quick paths that allow them to move from one page to another in a few moments.

The batteries are also more powerful, while the controls become completely touch screen, with the total elimination of the old keypads. Online incognito browsing, advanced camera settings such as flash, zoom and time-lapse, as well as HTTPS compatibility appear on this version.

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

In the same way as version 3.0 Honeycomb, the vanilla ice cream with cookie, released October 18, 2011, is also currently installed in some older devices. When it came into use it represented a clear step forward with the past, offering a fully customizable main screen, with areas dedicated to the management of apps, the number of which continued to grow month after month, new widgets and multiple miniaturized content.

Among the most significant introductions of this version of Android is the management of data traffic, which allows you to view real-time consumption, set maximum thresholds and create alerts in case of excessive use. Another absolute novelty is the Android Beam system, which allows you to connect two smartphones together wirelessly, to transmit data, contacts, files, music, videos and apps through NFC technology, then used for mobile payments. Progress on voice systems also continues, while facial recognition and a photo editor are also unveiled.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

Android's new dessert is Jelly Bean, the sugar candy so loved by children, symbolizing version 4.1, released on July 9, 2012 and active on about 3% of current devices.

This operating system introduces the world to Google Now, the personal assistant of modern devices, able to search the web, manage appointments and alarm, provide detailed information about the weather and search for road routes, commanded with the touch screen keyboard or directly with the voice.

The Jelly Bean version will pave the way for modern smartphones, representing a real turning point in this technology.

Android 4.1 allows users to receive notifications in real time, not only on certain features but on any app or service on the phone. In addition, with this version it is possible to intervene on notifications, through a quick path that allows you to activate the audio track, reply to the message or share photos.

On Jelly Bean also make their appearance multiple accounts, a solution derived from a need of tablets, typically used by several people as is the case with the PC.

Android 4.4 KitKat

On October 31, 2014, version 4.4 of Android KitKat was released, which is still operational on 7.6% of mobile terminals. Main features are the new software design, the evolution of the "Ok Google" voice system and an increasingly intelligent keyboard. Google's voice assistant becomes extremely sophisticated, in fact you don't even have to activate it, just call it with your voice and ask it to play music, a Youtube video, find a store on Google Maps or set an alarm.

The aesthetic aspect of Android is now totally immersive and responsive, automatically adapting to the app or function active at that moment.

For example, if you read a book, the operating system eliminates everything that could interfere with reading. It's the same when you're listening to music, watching videos, or texting with friends, but a tap is all it takes to bring out the main features of your smartphone. The new keyboard offers service-based information, such as images, maps and data, taken both online and within installed apps. 

Android 5.0 Lollipop

With Android version 5.0 Lollipop we finally arrive in the modern era, in fact this operating system is present on almost 18% of devices. New technologies transform the design of this version, which is now able to adapt perfectly to any device, screen resolution and activated functionality.

Lollipop works excellently on any terminal, smartphone, Android TV, tablet and even on Google Wear watches, automatically optimizing each page according to the characteristics of the screen.

Even in the locked homepage, which appears before entering the personal security code, received notifications are shown, while from the menu you can set notifications by customizing such alerts.

The version of Android 5.0 also supports 64-bit CPUs, modern GPU configurations, vector images, audio inputs and outputs with USB. An update is made on March 9, 2015, for multiple SIM compatibility, fix some screen bugs and improve the use of next-generation Wi-Fi networks.

Android 6.0 Marshmallow

On October 5, 2015, a new version is added to the long list of Android operating systems, 6.0 Marshmallow. The work of engineers and developers leads to the creation of increasingly high-performance batteries, which are exploited by the new system in an efficient and optimized way, depending on the functionality performed and the type of device.

Marshmallow is able to manage itself the energy used by the phone, activating standby mode and reducing the consumption of apps not in use at that moment.

Now finally you can also set permissions for accessing sensitive data, the classic notifications that ask permission to share photos, GPS location and other information.

Google's voice assistant becomes present in any Android service, increasingly easy to use and activated with quick and intuitive steps. Version 6.0, which is active on more than 21% of mobile terminals even today, allows you to view 4K video, better manage apps and perform full data backups.

Android 7.0 Nougat

One of the latest versions of Android is 7.0 Nougat, a name borrowed from a traditional almond cake. Released on August 22, 2016, it introduces Unicode 9.0 system integration for emoji, with new, unprecedented thumbnail images that can be used on multiple languages at once.

You can also activate two apps at the same time, or switch between them with two quick taps. For example, you can write a message while watching a movie or music video, or set an alarm while listening to an audio track.

The Android 7.0 release also features new 3D graphics, which with their high performance allow you to play the latest advanced games, such as Need For Speed No Limits.

Nougat is also compatible with apps that feature virtual reality programs, allowing you to manage battery consumption even more efficiently, adjust notifications and create groups for alerts, optimizing data consumption and screen size. This version is also more secure, thanks to increasingly sophisticated advanced encryption systems.

Android 8.0 Oreo

On August 21, 2017, Google made available to new smartphones and tablets the Android 8.0 Oreo version, called Project Treble, one of the biggest innovations in the history of the operating system.

At the moment, Oreo is installed on 21.5 percent of mobile devices, growing fast and second only to Nougat, present on nearly 30 percent of devices and by far one of the most popular versions among developers, companies and users.

Android Oreo 8.0 is smart, fast and powerful, boasting a new high-resolution wallpaper and a word recognition system.

Oreo offers suggestions, tips and allows you to speed up writing and web searches. It also allows you to boost the performance of the apps you're using when authorized.

Now you can run various features at the same time, chat and listen to music, text and watch movies, play videos and set your alarm, all thanks to the new system called picture-in-picture. There's no shortage of smart notifications and new security protocols for apps.

Android 9.0 Pie

Finally, there's the latest version of Android, for many the best version: the 9.0 Pie, released on August 6, 2018. Specifically designed for new artificial intelligence systems, Android 9.0 Pie is the operating system of the future, an evolved software that implements machine learning processes, modern voice assistant services and interconnection with multimedia devices in the car and home.

This version is capable of learning, learning the user's tastes and needs by personalizing each usage session.

Battery management has become responsive, controlled by the operating system so that there is no unnecessary consumption, for example through light setting, accessing apps not in use and integrated services. At the heart of Android 9.0 Pie are the apps, which are now one with the core software, for a more efficient, personalized and modern usability.