Google's Android Operating System for mobile devices has now evolved through four major versions. This article briefly describes the major features of the principle releases of Android 1-4.
From Android 1.5 onwards, each release has been named.
Android was born in September 2008 with the release of version 1.0. At that time, Android releases were un-named.
The first Android device was the HTC Dream.
Android 1.5 Cupcake
Released in April 2009, Cupcake introduced some familiar features to the Android world:-
- Uploading of videos and photos to YouTube and Picassa respectively
- MPEG-4 (mp4) recording and playback
- Widget support
- Auto screen rotation
- Animated screen transitions
Android 1.6 Donut
Version 1.6 was released a year after the first Android release, and included:-
- Support for 800x480 screen resolution
- Ability for developers to include their content in search results
- Android Marketplace inprovements, including app screenshots
- Performance improvements to searching and camera applications
Android 2.0-2.1 Eclair
Android 2 was introduced in October 2009 with the release of "Eclair".
Android 2.2 Froyo
In May 2010, 2.2 was released, codenamed "Froyo". Features included:-
- Speed, memory, and performance optimizations
- Adobe Flash support
- Wi-fi hotspots support
- Impoved Microsoft Exchange support
- Numeric and alphanumeric passwords
Android 2.3x Gingerbread
This is currently (May 2012) probably the most common pre-installed OS on Android phones and some tablets.
Introduced in December 2010, this version's features include:-
- Updated and improved UI
- Support for larger screen resolutions (1280×768 and above)
- Improvements to garbage collection and power management
- Multiple camera support
- Native VOIP support
Some of the latest devices which are pre-installed with Gingerbread can now be updated to Ice Cream Sandwich (such as the Samsung Galaxy S2).
Android 3.x - Honeycomb
Android 3 is exclusively for tablet devices, though some tablets continue to be pre-installed with Android 2.xx releases even after Honeycomb's introduction in February 2011.
Android 4.0.x - Ice Cream Sandwich
The latest release of the Android Operating System, Ice Cream Sandwich is now pre-installed on the newest Android phones, such as the Galaxy S3.
Android 4 was released in October 2011 and includes:-
- Enhanced speed and performance
- Virtual buttons in the UI, in place of capacitive or physical buttons
- Ability to access apps directly from lock screen
- New tabbed web browser
- 1080p video recording
- UI hardware acceleration