From Cupcake to O, The History of Android OS

Hostory of Android OS

From Cupcake to O, The History of Android OS

At the moment, it looks like Android is in the lead in the great mobile device war. Latest data from Gartner Research on smartphone usage shows Android market share is at a whopping 80.7%. That’s an incredible figure for an OS just past its 10th birthday. Here we take a look back at some of the changes and updates in the history of Android OS and perhaps why it’s overtaken iOS as one of the most popular in the world.

Android as we know it came into the world on in 2007 and has had 24 updates since. Google’s mobile operating system is based on Linux and is open-source. It allows developers to work on the code and modify it as they need. As a result, Android has a huge community of developers working in functionality and updates.

In mobile marketing, we look forward to Android’s constant developments. For example, Android’s O is set to give marketers and users advanced control over notifications with “Notification Channels” which will display messages by channel depending on type.

Since Google’s Mobile Division took on Android, it has become one of the most flexible and adaptable systems in the world. Although Ericsson claims the first ‘smartphone’ with the R380, in the year 2000, Android could arguably be seen as a great innovator in terms of the development of devices.



Google has followed a strict and delicious naming convention for Android updates. Apart from Android 1.0 and 1.1, they are all named after food. And it’s all about food that is not entirely healthy: Cupcake, Jelly Bean and Ice Cream Sandwich.

Android’s titles in alphabetical order (so far) are Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, KitKat, Lollipop, Marshmallow, Nougat.

Here, we take a look at the history of Android OS.

Designed with touchscreen in mind, Android is an OS for smartphones and tablets. Android apps are downloaded from the Google Play Store and in March 2017, there were 2.8 million apps available.

Apart from Android 1.0 and 1.1, which offered relatively basic features and functions, the sweet-named OS have all evolved with different highlights, features, and functionality.



Android 1.5, also known as Cupcake in 2009 saw a major update and big changes to the more basic earlier editions. A virtual keyboard was the major feature for Cupcake, followed by improvements to the camera, with direct-to-Youtube upload capability.



A few months later, Android 1.6, the Donut was released. Android was improving all the time and Donut brought with it a tasty title as well as text-to-voice recognition, better battery indicator and the ability to group apps. Donut was aimed at making the devices more user-friendly, with the quick-search box. As well as the devices, there were improvements to the Android Market, to make it easier to find apps.



41 days passed before Eclair, Android version 2.0 was released. A major update for Android, it offered lots of new features, many centred around camera improvements like flash, zoom and focus effects. Live wallpapers, a better keyboard, and five home screens joined the now-ubiquitous Google Maps feature as part of the new upgrades in Android Eclair. HTML5 support was added to the browser, with the aim of levelling out the playing field between Android and iOS.



Froyo (a nickname for Frozen Yoghurt) was next in May 2010 for Nexus devices. Android 2.2 featured lots of bug fixes and refined the user experience by giving users more control of their app storage through additional SD cards. Some other cool additions with Froyo included Wi-fi tethering to create hotspots, keyboard multiple language support and Adobe Flash 10.1.

Android 2.2 Froyo



Gingerbread, Android 2.3 was released a few months later in December 2010. Gingerbread supported larger screens and offered an improved interface for a more streamlined user experience. This version also supported NFC (Near Field Communication) and better sound and video playing experience. New language support and a new black notification bar completed the updates with Gingerbread.



Designed for tablets, Honeycomb, Android 3.0 appeared in 2011 and introduced a lot of UI improvements. It added a redesigned keyboard, the ability to browse through multiple tabs and a new incognito mode, so users could browse anonymously. Honeycomb 3.1 and 3.2 were maintenance releases and were still carried under the Honeycomb banner.


Ice Cream Sandwich

Android 4.0, the Ice Cream Sandwich was released in 2011. Swipe-to-hide-notifications, folder management and lots of the elements of Honeycomb finally made it to smartphone users.  


Versions 4.0 and below are considered legacy versions and are only used on a small number of devices. If you haven’t yet, it might be time to update!


Jelly Bean

Announced at Google’s I/O Developer Conference in 2012 Jelly Bean, Android 4.1 improved functionality and UI, as well as an in-depth look at notifications. Actionable notifications and Quick-Settings opened up a whole world of possibility for Android messaging.



One of the most memorable moments of KitKat, Android 4.4 was Google’s partnership with the chocolate bar manufacturer of the same name.

Other highlights of KitKat were immersive modes for game-playing, smarter called ID and emoji character support.


Android 5.0, Lollipop brought about a major UI update, named Material Design, intentionally designed for all devices from phones to cars. Lollipop ushered in improved battery life, Android Smart Lock, and device sharing. But, most importantly for mobile marketers, Android notifications got a big overhaul, displaying directly on the lock screen. A tap unlocks the device and goes straight to the relevant app and you can expand cards even on the lock screen.



Built for Nexus devices Android 6.0, Marshmallow, was released in 2015. It promised better shortcuts, better battery live with Doze and App Standby functions. It took security to another level of security with fingerprint recognition on specific devices.



Nougat otherwise known as Android 7.0 was issued in 2016. Starting with Nexus devices, the Nougat OS delivered bundled notifications, as well as quicker multi-tasking between apps with a double-tap, the ability to use two apps at the same time and two Chrome tabs at the same time. Perhaps the most important upgrade with Nougat were new emojis and GIF keyboards.



Android’s O(reo?) is heading down a similar path. The first developer preview is out, and around autumn 2017 it is set to be released. Here, at Element Wave we’re really looking forward to the unbundling of push notifications that Android O is set to introduce. Along with a snooze setting, O will allow group alerts with channel notifications, giving the end-user precision control over their communications.


About Element Wave

Element Wave is the only Mobile Engagement Automation platform built specifically for the iGaming industry. Established in 2010 in Galway, Ireland, we are a next-generation technology & managed services company serving some of the biggest players in the industry. Our multi-award winning company specialises in mobile marketing to combat the growing problem of player churn. Contact us now for a demonstration to see how we can boost your mobile retention.


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Welcome to Element Wave

Check out our mobile marketing automation platform.

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