Android version history

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Global Android version distribution since December 2009. As of March 2014, Android 4.x Jelly Bean is the most widely used Android version, operating on around 62% 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: Cupcake (1.5), Donut (1.6), Eclair (2.0–2.1), Froyo (2.2–2.2.3), Gingerbread (2.3–2.3.7), Honeycomb (3.0–3.2.6), Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0–4.0.4), Jelly Bean (4.1–4.3), and KitKat (4.4–4.4.3). On 3 September 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 to commercial devices on 22 November 2013, via an OTA update.[2][3]

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

Android alpha[edit]

There were at least two internal releases inside Google and the OHA before the Android 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".[4][5][6] Dan Morrill created some of the first mascot logos, but the current green Android logo was designed by Irina Blok.[7] 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.

Android beta[edit]

The Android beta was released on 5 November 2007,[8][9] while the software development kit (SDK) was released on 12 November 2007.[10] The November 5 date is popularly celebrated as Android's "birthday".[11] Public beta versions of the SDK were released in the following order:

  • 16 November 2007: m3-rc22a[12]
  • 14 December 2007: m3-rc37a[13]
  • 13 February 2008: m5-rc14[14]
  • 3 March 2008: m5-rc15[15]
  • 18 August 2008: 0.9[16]
  • 23 September 2008: 1.0-r1[17]

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 3 September 2013.[121] The release had long been expected by technology bloggers to be numbered 5.0 and called "Key Lime Pie".[122] KitKat debuted on Google's Nexus 5 on 31 October 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.[123] 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.[124]
Version Release date Features Image(s)
4.4 31 October 2013[125][126]
  • 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[127]
  • Ability for applications to use "immersive mode" to keep the navigation and status bars hidden while maintaining user interaction[128]
  • Action overflow menu buttons are always visible, even on devices with a hardware "Menu" key, which was officially deprecated by Android 4.0[129]
  • Optimizations for performance on devices with lower specifications, including zRAM support and "low RAM" device API[123]
  • Wireless printing capability[123]
  • NFC host card emulation, enabling a device to replace smart cards[123]
  • WebViews now based on Chromium engine (feature parity with Chrome for Android 30)
  • Removal of unofficial Flash Player support
  • Expanded functionality for notification listener services[123]
  • Public API for developing and managing text messaging clients[130]
  • New framework for UI transitions
  • Storage access framework for retrieving content and documents from other sources
  • Sensor batching, step detector and counter APIs[123]
  • Settings application now makes it possible to select default text messaging and home (launcher) application
  • Audio tunneling, audio monitoring and loudness enhancer[131]
  • Built-in screen recording feature (primarily for developers, as usage of ADB is required)[132]
  • Native infrared blaster API
  • Expanded accessibility APIs and system-level closed captioning settings
  • New experimental runtime virtual machine, ART (not enabled by default)[133]
  • Bluetooth Message Access Profile (MAP) support[134]
  • Disabled access to battery statistics by third-party applications[135]
  • 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[136]
  • Applications' write access to secondary storage (memory cards on devices with internal primary storage) is made possible but restricted to their designated private directories only, while full access to internal primary storage is still allowed through a separate application-level permission.[67][68]
Android 4.4.2.png
Android 4.4
4.4.1 5 December 2013[137]
  • Improvements to auto focus, white balance and HDR+ for the Nexus 5 camera[138][139]
  • Better application compatibility for the experimental ART runtime
  • Camera application now loads Google+ Photos instead of Gallery when swiping away from the camera view
  • Miscellaneous improvements and bug fixes
4.4.2 9 December 2013[140]
  • Further security enhancements and bug fixes
  • Removal of the "App Ops" application permissions control system, introduced in Android 4.3[141]
4.4.3 14 April 2014[142]
  • Enables use of LTE bands 26 and 41[143]
  • Various bug fixes

Hardware requirements[edit]

The main hardware platform for Android is the 32-bit ARMv7 architecture. The Android-x86 project provides support for the x86 architecture,[144] and Google TV uses a special x86 version of Android. In 2012, Intel processors began to appear on more mainstream Android platforms, such as phones.[145] In 2013, Freescale announced support for Android on its i.MX processor, specifically the i.MX5X and i.MX6X series.[146]

Minimum hardware requirements have been upgraded in steps over time, with the new Android versions releases. Original minimums were 32 MB of RAM, 32 MB of Flash memory, and a 200 MHz ARM architecture (ARMv5) processor.[147][148] As of October 2011 and version 4.0, a graphics processing unit (GPU) that supports OpenGL ES 2.0 hardware acceleration is mandatory,[149] 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.[123] The required minimum amount of RAM available to Android 4.4 is 340 MB, and all devices with less than 512 MB of RAM must report themselves as "low RAM" devices.[124] MIPS and x86 architectures are also supported through unofficial ports.[144][150] OpenGL ES 2.0 hardware acceleration is still mandatory, while OpenGL ES 3.0 is supported.[149]

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.[151][152]

See also[edit]

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External links[edit]