Android: history, devices and apps

Article updated in June 2012 – Article originally published in 2011

Android is now a well spread Operating System (OS) for mobile devices.
This article is to describe the history, the important milestones, devices and applications.

Android version logo

Android different versions and logo associated: Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich

1. Introduction

Android Inc. was founded in October 2003.

Android is an open OS based on Linux kernel and is free to use and to modify;  integrators (HTC, Motorola, Samsung) created their own interface of the OS to differentiate themselves.
The icon of Android is the little green robot named Bugdroid.
The development of Android is a colaborative work between Google and the others members of the Open Handset Alliance.

2. Evolution of Android

The different versions of Android followed the name of different desserts in alphabetic order, exception the 2 first version:

– 1.0: Alpha
– 1.1: Beta

– 1.5: Cupcake
– 1.6 : Donut
– 2.0/2.1: Eclair
– 2.2: Froyo
– 2.3: Gingerbread
– 3.0/3.1: Honeycomb
– 4.0 : Ice Cream Sandwich
– …: Jelly Bean

For more details about each version, please refer to the following image which include the different versions main features and release dates.

Android History of versions

Android: evolution of the Android operating system from origin to 2012

3. Android Mobile devices

Due to a free entry for the distribution of devices, Android has been adopted by numerous companies: HTC, Motorola, Samsung,… and it’s now use in a lot of different mobile devices: from watches, mp3/mp4 player, mobile phones to tablet and even the Google TV.

But Google made two phones as a reference design to push constructor to move in the direction Android is meant to go: G1 (HTC) and the Nexus S (Samsung).

A page on Google website lists the mobile device using Android as OS (view the list) .

Over view of important device since the launch of Android:

Our statistics on the applications we have on android market help us to build the list of  The most popular android phones article. It reflect well the markets trends, with the presence of Motorola Droid, Samsung Galaxy and HTC devices.

Android devices: mobile phones, pads ...

Android devices: mobile phones, pads – Samsung Galaxy S, HTC One, Asus Transformer

4. Android Market (renamed Google Play in March 2012)

4.1. Android Market general

android market

android market

Android OS comes with a integrated Application market that allow users to search and browse, view, rank and comment, the ever growing number of applications. Even if android market exists since october 2008, the website interface as been released only the 2nd february 2011.

Currently, the applications are separated into 2 main categories, each with different sub-categories:

– Games: Arcade & Action, Brain & Puzzle, Cards & Casino, Casual, Live Wallpaper, Racing, Sports Games, Widgets

– Applications: Books & Reference, Business, Comics, Communication, Education, Entertainment, Finance, Health & Fitness, Libraries & Demo, Lifestyle, Live Wallpaper, Media & Video, Medical, Music & Audio, News & Magazines, Personalization, Photography, Productivity, Shopping, Social, Sports, Tools, Transportation, Travel & Local, Weather, Widgets

More than 450,000 applications are currently available on the Market. (as of march 2012)

Since more people know Google  than Android,  Google changed their strategy about their app market; In 2012, Android market changed to Google Play.

Google Play logo

since 2012/03 Google renamed the Android market to Google Play.

And to diversify the offering to the end user, from Google Play you can now download and buy:

music
videos
books

This is currently only available for North America’s users, but its supposed to reach other places within the next years.

4.2. Android Market (from app)

The Android market app evolves to become more visual and highlight applications.

Android Market application: UI evolution

Android Market application: UI evolution

4.3. Android Market (from browser)

The web interface of Android Market allow you to search, compare and install applications directly from your computer. If you are connected with the same account as the one set on your android device, the installation of app  will be automatic the next time your phone has a wifi connection.

Your different devices are also listed, as well as your previously downloaded applications.

4.4. Alternative market

Apart from the official Google android market, there is a lot of independent app stores, I will just list 3 of them:

pdassi (European based market: Germany, Italy, France, …)
Amazon app store
GetJar (offer applications for Nokia/BlackBerry/Windows Mobile and Android)

5. Applications

5.1.  Google Applications

The android platform already incorporate different applications from Google. Mainly all Google cloud applications are available directly from first launch: Google Calendar, Google Gmail, Google Contacts, Google Voice search, Google Maps and Google Music. If you already use a Google account, everything previously setup will be automatically sync to your android device.

5.2. Other Noticeable applications

Business & Productivity:

– Google Docs
– DropBox
– EverNote
ScanCard: Business Card Reader

Games & Entertainment:

– Angry Birds
– Alchemy
– Chess

UI customization:

– MIUI
– Go launcher
Yunmai 3D Launcher 

6. Android strong and weak points

7. Conclusion

In its few years of existence, Android manage to take a healthy market share into the world of the mobile OS. Symbian lost most of their previous supporters and (Sony and Nokia), Apple with iOS manage to draw the direction of the smart phone development.

The strongest point of Android is that they manage to bring a full community of supporters, developing alternative ROM, replying to problems, adding support of last version of the OS to devices not yet updated officially.

The Android platform is not exempt of problem: since few months some developers are complaining about App missing (Android Market app missing issue), and back in April 2011 Apple and Google where pointed for tracking customers behavior. Furthermore the Android market has been infected by malwares due to the lack of control as opposed to the steel-hand of iTunes.

For more details about the technology and the different layers of Android I can just recommend the Android developers channel on Youtube and more specifically this series of video(Android Architecture).

Thanks for reading this page. Following the links which helped me to construct this article.

Annexes

Links:

– A great article about Android by Chris Ziegler: Android: A visual history (the Verge)
– wikipedia android (en/fr)
– wikipedia android version history (en)
Android official website
– Android interface evolution (infinitezest)
XdaDevelopers 

Alternative OS for mobile devices:
– Apple iOS
– Symbian
– WP7: Window Mobile
– Meego
– WebOS (old name PalmOS)

Interviews:
Android OS

3 Responses to Android: history, devices and apps

  1. Pingback: Android: History, apps and devices [Updated] « XMSCAN's blog

  2. i don’t know this before, cant believed android now conquering the world… thanks for sharing Mr. Jay

    • Mr.Jay says:

      You are welcome. This article is written by our another writer Nicolas Colin.

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