Android version history

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Global Android version distribution since December 2009. As of May 2014, Android 4.x Jelly Bean is the most widely used Android version, operating on around 61% of Android devices worldwide.

The version history of the Android mobile operating system began with the release of the Android beta in November 2007. The first commercial version, Android 1.0, was released in September 2008. Android is under ongoing development by Google and the Open Handset Alliance (OHA), and has seen a number of updates to its base operating system since its initial release.

Since April 2009, Android versions have been developed under a confectionery-themed code name and released in alphabetical order; the exceptions are versions 1.0 and 1.1:

On September 3, 2013, Google announced that 1 billion activated devices now use the Android OS worldwide.[1] The most recent major Android update was KitKat 4.4, which was released on October 31, 2013,[2] along with the Nexus 5 smartphone.

Pre-commercial release versions (2007–2008)[edit]

Alpha[edit]

There were at least two internal releases inside Google and the OHA before the Beta was released in November 2007. For the milestones in internal releases, names of fictional robots were chosen, with various releases code-named "Astro Boy", "Bender" and "R2-D2".[3][4][5] Dan Morrill created some of the first mascot logos, but the current green Android logo was designed by Irina Blok.[6] The project manager, Ryan Gibson, conceived of the confections naming scheme that has been used for the majority of the public releases, starting with Android 1.5.

Beta[edit]

The Beta was released on November 5, 2007,[7][8] while the software development kit (SDK) was released on November 12, 2007.[9] The November 5 date is popularly celebrated as Android's "birthday".[10] Public beta versions of the SDK were released in the following order:

  • November 16, 2007: m3-rc22a[11]
  • December 14, 2007: m3-rc37a[12]
  • February 13, 2008: m5-rc14[13]
  • March 3, 2008: m5-rc15[14]
  • August 18, 2008: 0.9[15]
  • September 23, 2008: 1.0-r1[16]

Version history by API level[edit]

The following tables show the release dates and key features of all Android OS updates to date, listed chronologically by their official application programming interface (API) levels.

Android 4.4 KitKat (API level 19)[edit]

Android 4.4 KitKat (API level 19)
Google announced Android 4.4 KitKat on September 3, 2013. Although initially under the "Key Lime Pie" ("KLP") codename, the name was changed because "very few people actually know the taste of a key lime pie."[123] Some technology bloggers also expected the "Key Lime Pie" release to be Android 5.[124] KitKat debuted on Google's Nexus 5 on October 31, 2013, and has been optimised to run on a greater range of devices than earlier Android versions, having 512 MB of RAM as a recommended minimum; those improvements were known as "Project Svelte" internally at Google.[125] The required minimum amount of RAM available to Android is 340 MB, and all devices with less than 512 MB of RAM must report themselves as "low RAM" devices.[126]
Version Release date Features Image(s)
4.4 October 31, 2013[127][128]
  • Refreshed interface with white elements instead of blue
  • Clock no longer shows bold hours, all digits are thin. The H, M, and S markings for the stopwatch and timer have been removed, leaving just the numbers.
  • Ability for applications to trigger translucency in the navigation and status bars[129]
  • Ability for applications to use "immersive mode" to keep the navigation and status bars hidden while maintaining user interaction[130]
  • Action overflow menu buttons are always visible, even on devices with a "Menu" key, which was officially deprecated by Android 4.0.[131]
  • Optimizations for performance on devices with lower specifications, including zRAM support and "low RAM" device API[125]
  • Wireless printing capability[125]
  • NFC host card emulation, enabling a device to replace smart cards[125]
  • WebViews now based on Chromium engine (feature parity with Chrome for Android 30)
  • Expanded functionality for notification listener services[125]
  • Public API for developing and managing text messaging clients[132]
  • New framework for UI transitions
  • Storage Access Framework, an API allowing apps to retrieve files in a consistent manner. As part of the framework, a new system file picker allows users to access files from various sources (including those exposed by apps, such as online storage services).[67]
  • Sensor batching, step detector and counter APIs[125]
  • Settings application now makes it possible to select default text messaging and home (launcher) application
  • Audio tunneling, audio monitoring and loudness enhancer[133]
  • Built-in screen recording feature (primarily for developers, as usage of ADB is required)[134]
  • Native infrared blaster API
  • Expanded accessibility APIs and system-level closed captioning settings
  • Android Runtime (ART) introduced as a new experimental application runtime environment, not enabled by default, as a replacement for the Dalvik virtual machine[135]
  • Bluetooth Message Access Profile (MAP) support[136]
  • Disabled access to battery statistics by third-party applications[137]
  • Settings application no longer uses a multi-pane layout on devices with larger screens
  • Wi-Fi and mobile data activity (TX/RX) indicators are moved to quick settings[138]
  • Browser text wrap is disabled.[139]
Android 4.4.2.png
Android 4.4.2 (OmniROM, AOSP-based)
4.4.1 December 5, 2013[140]
  • Improvements to auto focus, white balance and HDR+ for the Nexus 5 camera[141][142]
  • Better application compatibility for the experimental Android Runtime (ART)
  • Camera application now loads Google+ Photos instead of Gallery when swiping away from the camera view
  • Miscellaneous improvements and bug fixes
4.4.2 December 9, 2013[143]
  • Further security enhancements and bug fixes
  • Removal of the "App Ops" application permissions control system, introduced in Android 4.3[144]
4.4.3 June 2, 2014[145]
  • Refreshed Dialer app interface[146]
  • Updated the Chromium based WebView to version 33 (screencasting to DevTools, HTML5 Canvas hardware acceleration performance improvements, vibration API, HTML5 form validation, HTML5 datalist)[147]
  • Miscellaneous improvements and bug fixes
4.4.4 June 19, 2014[148]

Android 4.4 KitKat with wearable extensions (API level 20)[edit]

Android 4.4 KitKat with wearable extensions (API level 20)
Version Release date Features Image(s)
4.4w[150] Announced[151]
  • Same as Android 4.4 KitKat, but with wearable extensions added[151]

Hardware requirements[edit]

The main hardware platform for Android is the 32-bit ARMv7 architecture. The unofficial Android-x86 project provides support for the x86 architecture,[152] and Google TV uses a special x86 version of Android. Since 2012, Intel processors began to appear on more mainstream Android platforms, such as phones.[153]

Minimum hardware requirements have been upgraded in steps over time, with the new Android version releases. Original minimums were 32 MB of RAM, 32 MB of Flash memory, and a 200 MHz ARM architecture (ARMv5) processor.[154][155] As of October 2011 and version 4.0, a graphics processing unit (GPU) that supports OpenGL ES 2.0 (and ES 1.0) hardware acceleration is mandatory,[156] regardless of whether applications directly use the OpenGL ES or not.

As of November 2013 and Android version 4.4, an ARMv7 processor is required, while recommended minimum amount of RAM is 512 MB.[125] The required minimum amount of RAM available to Android 4.4 is 340 MB (this amount does not include memory dedicated to various hardware components such as the baseband processor), and all devices with less than 512 MB of RAM must report themselves as "low RAM" devices.[126] MIPS and x86 architectures are also supported through unofficial ports.[152][157] Android was first made to run on 64-bit x86 and then ARM64. Android 4.3 added support for OpenGL ES 3.0; if used, support for both older versions (ES 2.0 and 1.0) is still mandatory.[156]

In addition to running directly on x86-based hardware, Android can also be run on x86 architecture by using an Android emulator which is part of the Android SDK, or by using BlueStacks or Andy.[158][159]

See also[edit]

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