By 2021, Android is dominating the mobile platform marketplace with over 71% share worldwide. Nowadays, it is the mobile operating system that rocks the world, globally and in the United States. So, mobile users want to know what’s new in Android now and in the future.
Many mobile manufacturers are making mobile devices, tablets, and other gadgets, that solely are built for Google’s Android platform. The majority of smartphones and tablets are also powered by Android in 2021. That’s why businesses and Android developers are continuously creating mobile apps for this platform. Therefore, eventually Android is a force to be reckoned with for everyone.
Google is a household name and it’s risen from the reputation of being just a search engine. It has become the most reputable and powerful brand with great emphasis on uplifting the user experience on various grounds. That’s why Google is not just a company but also a word that is extensively used in our daily conversation.
The journey of Android is something so polished and refined just like its parent company Google. Android has a very interesting story behind it. The tale has its share of struggles, trials, errors, and successes. Keep reading about the complete journey, like what’s new in Android, the timeline of Google Android, and the latest updates.
Latest Android Updates: Releases, and Versions of Android
Till 2021, Google has released 12 major releases and 19 versions for Android. Now, we look at what’s new in Android from the very latest update. Then, we traverse to what it was in the beginning.
- Android 12
- Google Android 11
- Android 10
- Google Android 9 Pie
- Android 8 Oreo
- Google Android 7 Nougat
- Android 6 Marshmallow
- Google Android 5 Lollipop
- Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich
- Google Android 3 Honeycomb
- Android 2 Eclair
- Google Android 1
Let’s discuss these versions of Android in detail.
Android 12 (Beta)
Google announced Android 12 with its first developer preview in a blog post (on February 18, 2021). Two developer releases, Developer Preview 2 (March 17, 2021), and Developer Preview 3 (April 21, 2021) followed. Then, beta releases namely Beta 1 (May 18, 2021), and Beta 2 (June 9, 2021) followed.
Beta 3 release will come in July 2021. Android 12 will achieve platform stability through the Beta 4 release in August 2021. After a candidate release, Android 12 will be finally released in September 2021 (likely).
With Android 12, Google has given a complete reimagining to the interface since the Android 5.5 version. This release is the first to integrated Material You which brings a dramatic and exciting feel to the Android experience. When it comes to mobile platforms, it’s all about experimenting. Android 12.0 brings a new look and feel to the way Android apps, wearables, and Google services on the web.
Google Android is enabling users to personalize their themes which is something users haven’t experienced so far. There is also a lot of improvement on widgets. So that overall performance, security, and privacy are greatly enhanced.
Now, users can control how mobile apps access the data. Thus, users can decide on the kind of information they want to share with the apps. Finally, there are many updates on the business/enterprise level including the following.
- Password management
- Certificate management
- Employee-owned managed device management
Google Android 11
Introduced on 8th September 2020, Android 11 came with a substantial number of updates including changes around privacy. Users can grant certain permissions to apps for location, camera, and mic access only for a limited and single-use basis/session. The background location permission is even harder for apps to get, making it less likely for users to activate inadvertently.
It even revokes the permission of apps if they have not been opened for a few months on your device. Android 11.0 is a secure version that emphasizes controlling apps from knowing other apps are installed on your phone. This further helps to protect your information from any unwanted intrusion.
Android 11 version has many own standalone modules like Play Store that can be updated directly by Google. It also has a refined system notification area for conversation-related alerts. There is also a new streamlined media player to control all audio and video playing apps in a single space.
Also, Android 11 has introduced the Bubbles feature as well. This allows you to pop out conversations out into floating windows. So, it displays chats on top of whatever you are doing.
Released on 3rd September 2019, Android 10 has a swipe-driven approach to system navigation. The updates in this version of Android include a completely revamped interface. Also, Android 10.0 has a new setup for a hotfix style update which makes the faster rollout of small patches.
Android 10 had a codename of Android Q during the development phase. But during the release phase, Google dropped the branding. It was the first major Android version after Android 9, to not have a release title basing on deserts. Though, Google said that they would have chosen “queen cake” as a codename if this was not the case.
It has an updated permission system to give more control to users on how and when apps access location data. Google Android 10 came with a system-wide dark theme also. It includes a new focus mode, allowing users to limit distractions from specific apps, by tapping an on-screen button. Android 10 enables users to generate visual captions for media on their smartphones through the Live Caption feature.
Google Android 9 Pie
Introduced on 6th August 2019, Android 9 focused on effects like rounded corners across its user interface. This version was codenamed “Android P” while developing and was branded with “Android Pie” as the release title. Primarily, it concentrated on the betterment of the UI through optional gesture-based interfaces.
Additionally, Android 9.0 provided a substantial amount of UI tweaks. Also, the Android dashboard included app time limit controls. This gave users the capability to be more in charge of the limit and access of apps on their phones.
Android 8 Oreo
On 21st August 2017, Google launched the Android 8 version. It was codenamed “Android O” through development and was branded under the “Android Oreo” release title. This included faster bootup from the previous version, making Android 8.0 lightweight and a preferred choice.
It was a good sign for Android application developers to have more ideas on how to develop inventive apps. Android 8 had adaptive icons and considerable improvement for notifications. There was integrated picture-in-picture support included in version 8 as well.
Google Android 7 Nougat
22nd August 2016 observed the release of the Android 7.0 version. Codenamed as “Android N” in the development phase, Google branded it with the release title of “Android Nougat”. This was the first version of Google Android to have a virtual reality platform.
Also, the users could enjoy the screen zoom feature. The Android operating system now had multi-window support as well. This enabled users to switch between multiple windows without having to close app windows to move from one to another.
The updates of Android OS were made easier with the new system partition. So, it made upgradation to Android 7 a less bother from the previous Android versions. Features included refined doze on the go power saver, enhanced notifications, inline notification replies, and improved data security.
Android 6 Marshmallow
Google presented Android 6.0 on 2nd October 2015. Known by cryptonym “Android M” in the development stage, it was branded with the “Android Marshmallow” release title. This version had a relatively easier transition in comparison to the older Android versions.
With improved privacy controls, users could now even have fingerprint support with finger-impression sensor-equipped devices. App standby restricted rarely-used applications from draining battery power. Support for lightning-fast charging with USB Type C power cables decreased battery recharging time.
Users previously were more concerned about the excessive battery consumption of their mobile devices. This was especially a major problem when in sleep mode. However, Android 6 introduced the doze power-saving feature to address this issue. So, it enabled a considerable reduction in battery consumption for the devices in sleep mode.
Android 5.1 Version
Google brought the Android 5.1 on 2nd March 2015. Previously, there was no support for multiple SIM cards on a single mobile device. Google Android 5.1 officially introduced support for dual SIM operation.
The Android OS also provided high protection for lost or stolen devices. There was a considerable enhancement in how devices connected to Wi-Fi networks. Similarly, users could also have greater control of paired Bluetooth devices.
Google Android 5 Lollipop
Android 5.0 version was unveiled between 4th and 12th November 2014. Having codename “Android L” throughout development, it got branded with the “Android Lollipop” release title. It had a responsive UI with natural lighting and shadows.
This was a great release that had some extremely improved functions. For example, notifications, battery saver option, and even the estimated time for charging to complete for the device. With Android 5, Google redesigned the UI with the new material design language.
Android 5 lollipop included improvements for Bluetooth, encryption defaults, and new smart lock features. Also, it had the launch of Android TV, the star feature for this release alongside OK Google voice tasks. Google officially replaced Dalvik virtual machine with Android Runtime (ART) for the execution of applications.
Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich
Google released Android 4.0 on 19th October 2011. Codenamed as “Android ICS” over the development phase, it got the release title of “Android Ice Cream Sandwich” for branding. Android 4 merged the 2.3.x phone-centric design and the 3.2.x tab-centric design into a single version.
So, Android 4.0 succeeded Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread (smartphones) and Android 3.2.6 Honeycomb (tablets). This brought into a more evolved user interface through home folders, favorites tray, resizable widgets, and recent app selection. Also, features like lock screen actions, network data control, and quicker response for calls played a role.
Android 4 version had improvements for social networks, unified calendar, improved email, NFC-based sharing, face unlocking, and Wi-Fi Direct support. The browser could get a full desktop version of websites. Most of all, the camera and camcorder changes were tremendous which made Android OS a favorite amongst mobile users.
Users liked the new feature of facial recognition for unlocking devices. They also praised functions like image stabilizations and taking screenshots while video recording. Visual voicemail, voice input, and a whole new gallery app with a fully loaded video editor were good inventions.
Google Android 3 Honeycomb
The Android 3 was a big version from Google that was brought on 22nd February 2011. Succeeding the Android 2.3.7 “Gingerbread” version, it was branded with the “Android Honeycomb” release title. Its primary aim was to bring updates and new features for larger screens such as tablets.
With the Android 3.0 version, Google targeted users to even opt for tablet devices, to broaden its market share. Google offered better interface options such as a new system bar, action bar, customizable home screens, and recent apps list. Now, users enjoyed a faster and accurate entry of keys through a completely redesigned keyboard.
As well, users found the text selection, copy and paste a lot easier and manageable in this version. So, these features greatly improved the typing capabilities. Thus, it positioned Android tablets to have more power to be used for not just viewing but professional purposes too.
Additionally, the USB mass storage was given an alternative by synchronizing media files via USB. Also, there was support for physical keyboards visa Bluetooth or USB. Therefore, with multi-core processor support, users got high-performance 2D and 3D images and graphics.
Android 2 Eclair
The Android 2.0 version came on 26th October 2009. Google branded it with the “Android Eclair” release title. This update to Android OS included an enhanced UI, live wallpapers, and improved speed.
Overall, the Android 2 release had phenomenal modifications that made the experience a lot better for users. Its camera application got new many features including flash, digital zoom, white balance, scene modes, and macro focus. Users could now easily launch their emails through support for the Microsoft Exchange mail server.
Moreover, uses could aggregate emails from multiple accounts on their mobile phones. Also, Android 2.0 introduced the contact and account synchronization features. It also had support for Bluetooth 2.1 and new BT profiles for greater connectivity.
Google Android 1
The first in the Android timeline, the Android 1.0 version officially came out on 23rd September 2008. However, it was not commercially available to mobile manufacturers other than HTC at that time. HTC Dream was the only mobile device that ran on the Android 1 version. It was also called T-Mobile G1 in the United States and some parts of Europe.
Andy Rubin, Richard Miner, Chris White, and Nick Sears had founded Android Inc. in 2003. Google purchased it in July 2005 and the staff continued working in secrecy. Many thought that Google will venture into the mobile phone market. But Google was working on developing a mobile operating system.
Android 1.0 came with Android Market (predecessor to Google Play), a digital ecosystem for mobile apps. Google had announced about Android Market on 28th August 2008 and it became available to users on 22nd October 2008. It came loaded with several apps, and immediately became a competitor for Apple iPhone OS.
Google has developed something in the form of Android, that is easy to operate for mobile users worldwide. Android came into the market and gradually build up by observing and understanding the users’ needs. Google Android is efficient in providing mobile users what they wanted from their smartphone and tablet devices.
Today, what stands before us is a market giant with the biggest share of the mobile OS market. Stats don’t lie, and the numbers continue to rise. It’s a heads up for the future with great promise for both Android app developers and businesses. They can continually master their skills and develop apps for the Android platform.
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