Android version history

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Global Android version distribution since December 2009. As of December 2014, Android 4.4 "KitKat" is the most widely used Android version, operating on 33.9% of Android devices worldwide. At the same time, all Android "Jelly Bean" versions (4.1–4.3.1) combined are on 48.7% 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 as they were not released under specific code names:

  • Alpha (1.0)
  • Beta (1.1)
  • 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 (4.1–4.3.1)
  • KitKat (4.4–4.4.4)
  • Lollipop (5.0–5.0.2)

On September 3, 2013, Google announced that one billion activated devices now use the Android OS worldwide.[1] The most recent major Android update was Lollipop 5.0, which was released on November 3, 2014 along with the Nexus 6 smartphone, Nexus 9 tablet, and Nexus Player set-top box.

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".[2][3][4] Dan Morrill created some of the first mascot logos, but the current green Android logo was designed by Irina Blok.[5] 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,[6][7] while the software development kit (SDK) was released on November 12, 2007.[8] The November 5 date is popularly celebrated as Android's "birthday".[9] Public beta versions of the SDK were released in the following order:

  • November 16, 2007: m3-rc22a[10]
  • December 14, 2007: m3-rc37a[11]
  • February 13, 2008: m5-rc14[12]
  • March 3, 2008: m5-rc15[13]
  • August 18, 2008: 0.9[14]
  • September 23, 2008: 1.0-r1[15]

Version history by API level[edit]

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

Android 5.0 Lollipop (API level 21)[edit]

Android 5.0 Lollipop (API level 21)
Android 5.0 "Lollipop" was unveiled under the codename "Android L" on June 25, 2014 during Google I/O, and became available as official over-the-air (OTA) updates on November 12, 2014 for select devices that run distributions of Android serviced by Google, including Nexus and Google Play edition devices. Its source code was made available on November 3, 2014.[153][154]

Lollipop brings a redesigned user interface built around a responsive design language referred to as "material design". Other changes include improvements to the notifications, which can be accessed from the lockscreen and displayed within applications as top-of-the-screen banners. Google also made internal changes to the platform, with the Android Runtime (ART) officially replacing Dalvik for improved application performance, and with changes intended to improve and optimize battery usage, known internally as Project Volta.[155][156][157][158]

Version Release date Features Image(s)
5.0[159] November 12, 2014[160]
  • Android Runtime (ART) with ahead-of-time (AOT) compilation and improved garbage collection (GC), replacing Dalvik that uses just-in-time (JIT) compilation[159]
  • Support for 64-bit CPUs
  • OpenGL ES 3.1 and Android Extension Pack (AEP) on supported GPU configurations
  • Recent activities screen with tasks instead of applications, up to a configured maximum of tasks per application
  • Vector drawables, which scale without losing definition
  • Support for print previews
  • Material design style, bringing improvements to user interface
  • Refreshed lock screen
  • Refreshed notification tray and quick settings pull-down
  • Project Volta, for battery life improvements
  • Search inside the device settings
  • Guest logins and multiple user accounts are available on more devices, such as phones.[161]
  • Audio input and output through USB devices
  • Third-party applications regain the ability to read and modify data located anywhere on external storage, such as on SD cards.[162][163]
  • Pinning of an application's screen for restricted user activity.[164]
  • Recently used applications are remembered even after restarting the device.[164]
  • WebViews receive updates independently through Google Play for security reasons, instead of relying on system-wide vendor updates[165]
  • Addition of 15 new languages: Basque, Bengali, Burmese, Chinese (Hong Kong), Galician, Icelandic, Kannada, Kyrgyz, Macedonian, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Sinhala, Tamil and Telugu[166]
  • Tap and Go NFC-and-Bluetooth-powered data transfer to transfer all Google Account details, configuration settings, data, and applications on a new Android Lollipop device[164]
  • Flashlight application (supported only on devices with flashlight)[164]
  • App Priority[164]
  • Shortcut on jumping to system Settings[164]
Android L Develpment Preview.png
Android 5.0 Developer Preview
5.0.1 December 2, 2014[167]
  • A few bugfixes, including resolving issues with video playback and password failures handling
5.0.2 December 19, 2014[168]
  • No changelog provided by Google. Currently only available for the Nexus 7 2012 Wi-Fi model.

Hardware requirements[edit]

The main hardware platform for Android is the ARM architecture, with x86 and MIPS architectures also officially supported. Both 64-bit and 32-bit variants of all three architectures are supported since the release of Android 5.0;[169] unofficial Android-x86 project had provided support for the x86 and MIPS architectures ahead of the official support.[170][171] Since 2012, Android devices with Intel processors began to appear, including phones[172] and tablets. While gaining support for 64-bit platforms, Android was first made to run on 64-bit x86 and then on ARM64.

Minimum hardware requirements have been upgraded in steps over time, with the new Android version releases. Original minimums were 32 MB of RAM (but less than 128 MB was not recommended,[173] with first phone HTC Dream ("flagship") phone using 192 MB), 32 MB of Flash memory, and a 200 MHz ARM architecture (ARMv5) processor.[174][175] As of November 2013 and Android version 4.4, builds for ARM-based devices require an ARMv7 processor (Android 5.0 also supports ARMv8-A), while recommended minimum amount of RAM is 512 MB.[126] 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.[127]

As of October 2011 and Android 4.0, a graphics processing unit (GPU) that supports OpenGL ES 2.0 (and ES 1.0) hardware acceleration is mandatory,[176] regardless of whether applications directly use the OpenGL ES or not. Later, 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.[176]

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.[177][178]

See also[edit]

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