Android has been the most popular mobile operating system till date, and a head to head rival to IOS.
Android didn’t just become the most user-friendly mobile OS by trial and error, it went through a lot of changes and versions over time.
Don’t you think it’s quite cool to know how Android grew and the unique features each version came with?
As an Android lover like myself, it’s good to know what Android has practically gone through to be what it is and become even better.
Who knows, Google might set up a question and answer session someday about the history of Android growth.
If you are an enthusiastic Android user like those at AndroidAuthority, then take a very comfortable seat and a glass of water to keep your body hydrated while I show you how our open source operating system has leaped through different versions with new unique features/updates.
Android Versions And Their Features
A lot of users can easily name the number of Android versions right from Android 5 Lollipop to Android 7 Nougat or even Android 8 Oreo, but not all can name it right from the first version.
Well, today isn’t an Android naming quiz, you are here to learn even more than just knowing the names of the Android versions.
So let’s start the Android history journey.
Before you proceed, say after me,
I love Android
Android 1.6 Donut Features
Who really cares about the features of this old Android version? Well, I do care and also love donuts!
- You remember the omnipresent quick search box on Android? Donut brought it. Via the quick search box, you can quickly and easily search for anything on your device and it will load up results.
Well, I won’t show you an image of the quick search box, check it out on your current Android phone.
- Android 1.6 Donut brought the Android Market in 2008 which has now evolved into the Google Play Store. It was made to bring top free and paid apps into a catalog for easy download.
- Android Donut brought a diversity in screen size. Since Android phones could take various sizes, the capabilities on Android Donut allowed Android to run on different screen resolutions or and aspect ratios. So Android can run on 320 x 480, 1920 x 1080 etc
I think that’s all the unique features on that frontline version of Android. Other features are just what Android is naturally made of.
Android 2.1 Eclair Features
I love Android naming schemes because all the versions are just yummy. Android 2.1 Eclair brought or had the following unique features:
- Home screen customizations:
Android has always been easily customizable, and the home screen is one center for tweaking. Home screen customizations were cooked up in Android 2.1 Eclair. It introduced those popular live wallpaper features that would always shake when touched.
- Speech to text:
Android Eclair replaced the comma key on the soft keyboard with a simple microphone. It’s always easy to get your speech written on the screen with just a tap.
- Google Maps integration:
One feature of any good smartphone is the ability to help you navigate easily. Google Maps integration brought turn by turn navigation, voice guidance, traffic information etc
Android 2.2 Froyo Features
Android 2.2 Froyo brought some really interesting features on the OS. Hope you are enjoying this Android digging trip.
Features from Andriod 2.2 Froyo are:
- Portable Hotspot:
Imagine if there weren’t portable hotspot on Android. I would literally weep, not cry. With tethering, Andriod Froyo helps you turn your device into a portable WiFi hotspot so you could stay connected conveniently. The uses of this features are so countless these days.
- Voice Commands:
The launchpad for the Google assistant all started from Froyo. Android 2.1 Froyo took voice commands to the next level by helping you carry out some basic functions through your voice. Searching, making notes, setting alarms etc could be easily done via voice commands.
Android 2.3 GingerBread Features
Android 2.3 Gingerbread was one of the most popular Android OS versions on phones then.
You can still find a couple of devices running Gingerbread. Apart from its popularity, it also brought some unique and worth knowing features.
Remember all those secret games hiding inside your Android phone when you hit the Android version a couple of times? It all started with Gingerbread.
Hope you have tried one of those games on your Android recently.
Below are Android 2.3 Gingerbread features.
- Battery Management:
Checking what’s eating up all those battery power, from the screen brightness, voice, mail, browser, third-party apps etc was all from Gingerbread. It was a very useful feature.
NFC which makes contactless payment a breeze was supported on Android Gingerbread. On an NFC supported device, the connection was done by just bringing the two devices together. Simply great!
Gaming on Android sets it apart from iOS with too many options to choose from awesome and wicked addictive games. One more time, “We love Android”
With lower level access to storage, audio, graphics etc, Android Gingerbread brought all new gaming APIs that enabled developers to create stunning 3D games.
What was your favorite game on Android then?
Android 3.0 Honeycomb Features
Think of the sweetness of Honey, think of Android 3.0 Honeycomb.
Android 3.0 Honeycomb brought in some really unique sweetness in the Android ecosystem. Let’s check them out.
- Tablet Design:
Reading books, watching movies, viewing maps and the world-wide web on a tablet is super cool. Android Honeycomb brought support for tablets. A big thanks to that sweet Android version.
- Quick Settings:
With Honeycomb came Quick settings. See the time, date, screen brightness, battery life, connectivity options easily via the quick settings on your Android device.
- On Screen Navigation/System bar:
Even with most devices having a physical home, back and menu button nowadays, Android Honeycomb enabled a system bar on-screen navigation for the back, menu, home, screenshot and other buttons.
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich Features
Android is way better than iOS because it’s practically highly user customizable and even extremely customizable with root access.
From the Android 4.0 Ice cream sandwich version, customization of Android too a new level. Let’s take a deeper look at the Android 4.0 features.
- Android Beam:
Although I didn’t use it then, it was a cool feature. Android Beam used NFC to share data like music, photos, apps, videos between two NFC enabled Android devices.
- Data Usage:
With data usage controls on from Android 4.0, you can track how much data you have used, set limits and warnings or even disable the data service as soon as it reaches a set amount. It was an is still very useful.
- Custom Home screen:
Customizing your home screen with widgets, apps, favorites, folders and even more tweaking like expanding widgets to view more contents etc was possible right from Android 4.0.
Android 4.1 Jellybean
Android 4.1 Jellybean doesn’t just use a sweet like sugar code name, it also brought some wonderful features to the Android family.
Below are the unique features of Android 4.1 Jellybean.
The multi-user feature which allows for more privacy was born from Android 4.1. JellyBean enabled multiple users on one device. Each account has its own customized space from home screen to wallpaper, widgets, and apps so you can share a device and not your info.
Multi-user launched with tablets and later rolled out to phones with Lollipop.
- Actions in Notifications:
That fun when you could just swipe from the notification bar and view/respond to notification all came out from android 4.1. With Jelly Bean, notifications expand to show more information and let you respond at the moment, directly from the notification.
- Google Now:
Pioneering a new level of mobile assistance, Google Now gives you today’s weather as you’re getting dressed and commute times before you walk out the door. Get the information you need at just the right time with Google Now.
Android 4.4 KitKat Features
Android KitKat brought a lot of security enhancements, redesigns, and better features. Let’s see what up.
- Smart Dialer:
KitKat brought in a smart dialer that learned about your favorite contacts, better searches from the dialer etc.
- OK Google voice:
The say Ok Google voice command/assistant service started from this Android version. By saying OK Google to launch voice search, you can search for search for stuff, get direction, play music, sent text messages or emails etc with voice commands.
I love its present stage, the Google Assistant.
- Better/Immersive Design:
Google Android 4.4 designs helped users to be focused more on what matters. Watching videos, photos, reading a book or playing a game will be distraction free.
Android 5.0 Lollipop Features
This is the beginning of Androids true beauty, security improvements and more features that made Android experience smooth and visually enjoyable.
With Android Lollipop, multiscreen was taken to an all new height. You could effortlessly switch from your Android smartphone to an Android tablet, Android Wear, Android TV etc. Pick up from where you left off with songs, games, videos etc
- Material design:
Android 5.0 Lollipop brought an all new blasting visually appealing material design to Android.
Android Lollipop ushered an all new user-friendly notification feature to Android. Notifications can now as sweet as Lollipop on the lock screen.
With nicely segments of notifications on the lock screen, you would not always unlock your device to view notifications. Responding to notifications via the lockscreen was possible and also customizing the lock screen notification settings.
Android 6.0 Marshmallow Features
Android 6.0 Marshmallow is a powerful update to the Android versions with a whole lot of improvements, security and features that are very useful.
Android 6.0 features are really numerous to mention, but we would put the notable of them here.
Below are the Android 6.0 Marshmallow features.
- Now On Tap:
With now on tap, intelligent assistance for searches and other data can be gotten easily just by holding the home key anytime to launch the NowOnTap.
- Battery saving:
Android 6.0 Marshmallow takes battery saving and optimization a step forward with Doze mode and app standby.
Doze mode puts your device is a low power state and stops unnecessary actions when the device is idle. It’s a great feature that preserves your battery until the real deap comes.
App standby puts apps you don’t frequently use to sleep so as to save battery power.
- App permissions:
With app permissions on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, you can control what permissions apps have access to location, dialer, camera, microphone, accessibility, storage etc.
You can turn off permissions anytime you wish.
More Android 6.0 features includes:
- Support for fingerprint security.
- Check security updates level.
- App power saving exceptions.
- Supports USB Type C and 3.1
- Improved Cut and Paste.
- Voice search directly from the lock screen.
- Google settings included inside the settings menu.
- Smart locks for passwords.
- System UI Tuner.
- Customize quick settings menu as you wish.
- Supports formatting/using external SD card as portable storage and install apps on it.
Android is evolving with new features in every release. Let’s see what the next big version has to offer.
Android 7.0 Nougat Features
Android 7.0 is actually the most popular now on new smartphones while other devices are still being updated.
It’s possible to get the Android 7.0 Nougat version via a custom ROM.
Android 7.0 Nougat is very customizable and one of the sweetest of all Android releases. My device currently runs on the Android 7.0 Nougat and the experience has been awesome.
Let’s quickly look at the features baked in Android Nougat 7.0 that is making it so enjoyable and secured.
Android 7.0 has the following features:
- Security is strongly built-in. You get file based encryption, seamless updates and direct boot.
- Data saver feature. If to its enabled, it saves data by blocking background apps from using your mobile data.
- Customize display properties like font size, text size and icon size.
- Easy notifications control directly from the notification menu like direct reply.
- Bundled notifications puts notifications together to avoid clustering. You just have to drag it to view the complete info.
- Custom quick settings allows you to rearrange the quick settings as you wish.
- Doze on the go helps save battery power while you are on the move. It naturally goes into a low power mode when not in use.
- Supports high quality VR(Virtual Reality) contents on compatible devices.
- Vulkan API brings high performance 3D graphics with exceptional visual quality.
- Run two apps concurrently with Multi-window view which makes switching between apps a breeze.
- New and updated emojis and ability to use two or more languages at the same time.
Android 7.0 Nougat also has a refreshed look that gives you that Android wow experience.
A more bigger update has also been released which is the Android 8.0 Oreo.
Android 8.0 Oreo Features
Android 8.0 Oreo is the latest version of the Android operating system that is currently running on devices. As the latest version of Android, a lot of changes has been made and features added.
It’s the smartest, fastest and most powerful version of Android currently available Until Android pP becomes officially available, Android 8 stays.
We shall look at a list of all the features of Android 8.0 Oreo.
- Faster operation and boot time with background limiting of apps in real-time.
- Notifications dot.
- Android instant apps.
- Smart text selection and intelligent Autofill helps.makes saving logins and text predictions a seamless experience.
- Picture-in-Picture mode allows running two apps at the same time and visually seeing both of them.
- Battery optimizations
- Google Play protect scans apps always to ensure your Android is safe from harmful apps.
- Redesigned emoji plus more than 60 new ones to add life to your text/chat
Android Oreo is the most redesign version of Android and it’s now available on a good number of new devices and updates to older ones.
Google also has other versions of Android like the Android One which gives you a completely stock Android experience and Android Oreo Go Edition which targets simplicity and midrange devices with an average hardware.
As soon as Android P is officially available on devices and all its features known, we would update this article.
Hope you learned something new about the Android versions and their features.