Since the release of Cupcake 1.5 in 2009, Google has been codenaming their latest and greatest Android versions in the form of sweet and tasty deserts, all in alphabetical order; after (C)upcake came (D)onut, followed by (E)clair, (F)royo, (H)oneycomb and finally, (I)cecream Sandwich. Before ICS was even released, android fanatics were speculating on what the next release would be codenamed. Not surprisingly, Jelly Bean was added to that list, and low-and-behold, Jelly Bean was announced at this year’s Google IO, as our next helping of desert.
Jelly Bean was rumored to be an insignificant release, only adding a .1 to our current 4.0 version. The truth in this however, turned out to be quite the contrary. In an article posted on June 28th, ION writer Hans Gogia explained some of the delicious new features that will be gracing our palette; one of the most significant being, Project Butter which will bring a whole new buttery smooth experience to our android devices.
With the back-breaking competition swarming through the mobile scene, Google has their mind set on being number one. In what ways has Google accomplished this with their well known Android OS? What revolutionary ideas have given Apple a run for their money since the launch of the first Android device, HTC Dream? The following breakdown will give you an idea on just how far the Mountain View based company has gone since 2007.
The beta was released on November 05, 2007, followed by the SDK, which gave developers a head start in creating all the awesome apps and tweaks we have today.
If you ask the natives fan-boys about their experience with the Android OS, they will all recall the “G1 days,” these were the days when the true developers really had their chance to shine. The T-mobile G1, or rather the HTC Dream, released on September 23, 2008, was the first commercially available Android phone. It was with this version that Google had their first chance at branding the mobile market.
- Android Market
- Integrated web browser, with HTML and XHTML support
- Basic Camera support
- Folder grouping for homescreen
- POP3, IMAP4, and SMTP Access
- G-Apps integration such as Gmail, Google Contacts, Google Maps, Google Sync, Google Search, and Google Talk
- IM, SMS, and MMS support
- Media playback without Bluetooth support
- Notifications right on your status bar (Apple is still trying to perfect this so as to not annoy users)
- Custom Wallpaper
- Integrated YouTube player
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support
The small update was released on February 9, 2009 for the G1. It resolved some bugs, changed the APU, and added a few small features, one of which was the ability to save attachments in messages.
On April 30, 2009, Google introduced their new codename system in the form of alphabetical tasty treats. This release was the most significant since Android was released.
- Support for 3rd party virtual keyboards.
- Widget Support
- Video Recording in MPEG-4 and 3GP formats
- Auto-pairing for Bluetooth devices
- Copy and paste added to web browser
- Contact Pictures available in Favorites
- Date/Time stamp added in call log and ability to open contact straight from log
- Animated screen transitions
- Auto Rotate
- YouTube and Picasa upload
Another small update was released on September 15, 2009. This update allowed for support of WVGA phones, and improved the Gallery, camera and camcorder for fuller integration, along with a few other tweaks.
Éclair was amongst one of the bigger updates and was divided into 3 different releases: 2.0, 2.0.1 and 2.1.
- Ability to add more than one account to your device
- Ability to expand contact information by tapping on the contacts picture
- Camera tweaks, including flash support, digital zoom, scene mode, white balance, color effect and, macro focus.
- Smart dictionary that learns from your texting habits
- Updated browser with HTML5 support, double-tap zoom, and bookmark thumbnails
- Other minor changes to API and framework
With the release of Froyo on May 20, 2010, the Android community changed from a tight nit development-centric group, to an expanding teenage market. The Nexus One was the first phone be released with Android 2.2, and was widely available at a low cost. This version excited users with every new .x, for over a year.
- SPEED, MEMORY, and PERFORMANCE
- Integration of Chrome’s V8 Java-Script engine
- Android Cloud to Device Messaging (C2DM), allowing push notifications
- Improved launcher
- USB tethering and Wi-Fi hotspot
- More Bluetooth support (voice dialing, contact sharing, car and desk docks)
- Ability to install applications to SD cards
- Adobe Flash support
- Bug fixes and other minor UI and security improvements
Another longwinded and major update, released with the Nexus S on December 6, 2010.
- Updated UI
- Higher screen resolution support (WXGA and higher)
- Native support for SIP VoIP
- Text Input improvements
- Improvements on copy/paste, allowing users to touch and hold to bring up options
- NFC support
- Enhanced audio effects
- New Download Manager
- Support for Front and Rear facing camera
- Improved power management
- Google Wallet support
- A bunch of other technical upgrades and bug fixes
With the increasing popularity of tablets, Google released their first tablet only android update on February 22, 2011. I am not going to go into those details since there were a lot, but you can find them on the Wiki.
Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.x
ICS has been my favorite update so far, and is compatible with any Android 2.3.x device and up. It was released for the Galaxy Nexus on October 19, 2011.
- Virtual buttons to replace capacitive or physical buttons
- Application Drawer contains new tabs, including tab for widgets
- Better support for folder creation
- Customizable launcher
- Pinch-to-zoom in Calendar
- Integrated screenshot capture
- Access predetermined apps from the lockscreen
- Real-time speech to text dictation
- Face unlock
- Tabbed web browser support
- Data Usage section letting you control how much data you (or your kids) use
- Hard pressing home key brings up task manager allowing you to swipe closed any apps in the background
- More camera improvements, including panorama mode and the ability to zoom while recording.
- Integrated photo editor
- Better social media integration
- Android Beam, allowing you to exchange bookmarks, contact info, directions, YouTube videos, and other data with nearby friends
- Wi-Fi Direct
- 1080p Video recording
- Tons of other UI improvements and bug fixes
Jelly Bean 4.1
As Android users, we are always looking to the future and testing the limits of our phones. JB was just announced on June 27th and already developers are working tirelessly to bring the update to our phones before the official release in July. Jelly Bean has already been ported to the international version of HTC One X, CDMA Galaxy Nexus, and the international Galaxy S III.
- Project Butter
- Google Now
- Automatically re-size widgets and reorganize homescreen
- Offline voice dictation
- Improved camera app
- Updates to Google Play (including Google Magazines), Google Maps, YouTube, Google Earth, Google+, and Chrome
- User-installable keyboard maps
- Expandable notifications
- And much, much more!
So what can we expect next from Google? Back in March, The Verge received a tip that we can expect some Key Lime Pie to accompany our Jelly Beans. Will KLP be the next major release? With all the competition in the market can Google afford to give us another minor update? What features might this new update be laced with? I guess we will have to wait and see.