Operating SystemsPre 2012 4 years ago | | 3 Comments

The History of Android: Home Screens From 2008-2012

So, Jelly Bean has just been announced. While most of us our wondering when the hell our phone will be upgraded to Jelly Bean (or ICS for that matter), I thought I’d take a second to reminisce on older Android versions. I originally wrote this article in early February and decided to give it a refresh. All the content from here onwards is the same until Jelly Bean. Sit back, enjoy and have a look back at the last four years development of our favourite OS
  • Android was founded by Andy Rubin in 2003.
  • Google purchased Android in 2005, and placed Andy Rubin as the head of development.
  • In 2008, the first Android phone was released by HTC and Google – the Nexus One.

Here’s a quick look at the Home Screens of the last 8 iterations of our beloved OS:

Android 1.0:

Android 1.0 was the first generation of Android. It came out so long ago that the dessert-naming system was not yet in existence. It featured one of Android’s main features, being widgets, yet lacked the majority of aspects that we now take for granted on our ‘Droids.

Android 1.5 Cupcake:

Cupcake was the first version of Android named after a dessert. It featured the first virtual keyboard on a Google device and was also the most simple edition. It heavily focused on Google search and integration as Google had not expanded its services to the overwhelming scope it currently has.

Android 1.6 Donut:

Donut was a small but needed step in the right direction for Android. It introduced phone-wide search, text-to-speech and a much improved Android Market. Besides this, it was quite similar to Cupcake.

Android 2.1 Éclair:

Eclair brought on the first major redesign of Android since it was acquired by Google. Many of the apps have similar icons to what we are accustomed to today (e.g. Market, messaging, maps, and browser as seen above). Éclair also introduced live wallpapers, cleaner menus and a new app drawer system.

Android 2.2 Froyo:

FroYo was introduced as Android began to kick up a bit of steam. It introduced the dedicated phone and browser buttons next to the app tray. It also introduced a selectable search type menu for the Google search widget, as well as speed enhancements, improved user experience and many more apps for users.

Android 2.3 Gingerbread:

Gingerbread is currently the most popular version of Android. It made the operating system an overall cleaner and more user friendly experience. The colour scheme, notification bar, launcher icons and polish of the OS were all changed for the better. Android 2.3 Gingerbread also marked the beginning of the cathode-ray lock animation which is just plain cool.

Android 3.0 Honeycomb:

Honeycomb was/is the operating system for Android tablets. While some tabs run on Android 2.2 or 2.3, Honeycomb 3.0 is the standard for the original Android tabs. It marked the beginning of on-screen buttons, one of which is a dedicated multi-tasking button. Honeycomb was plagued with many bugs, glitches and lag concerns. However, the update to 3.2 put most of these concerns to rest.

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich:

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is the second most recent version of the operating system. It brought together phones and tablets (hence the sandwich) onto one OS, making it possible for apps to be cross-platform in a simpler manner. ICS also introduced on-screen buttons for phones, a rethought launcher, new folders, a dedicated Google search bar on every page and an HD resolution… the list goes on. While not all phones will be receiving ICS, it is the most widely anticipated update ever in the Android world.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean:

For now, Jelly Bean is the king of Android. It has introduced a whole slew of new features, with a major focus on ‘Killing Lag.’ With the introduction of Project Butter, the Android devs have been able to make the experience much smoother and nicer for the user. On-screen buttons have stayed, but the ‘Holo’ theme has slightly diminished. Jelly Bean has also included the introduction of Google Now, a much a more powerful Google Search and increased sharing options – and that’s just the start.

This list relates only to the pure Android versions of the OS, not accounting for the numerous phones that have custom skins on top.

What does the future hold?

So, I wrote this 3 months ago and I guess for the most part it came true:
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich seems as though it is the operating system we have been waiting for all these years. It brings together phones and tablets in the most smooth and fluid OS we have ever seen from the boys down at Mountain View. However, time goes on: one day it will be replaced by a newer, cleaner and meaner OS. If Google follows the alphabetical dessert naming trend (and they will), we will find ourselves with a new iteration beginning with J. What will it be? Jelly, Jawbreaker, Jube? Or possibly Jelly Bean, which, as we reported earlier today, has recently been floating around as the rumoured Android 5.0!

However, now that Jelly Bean has been unveiled to the world – where to now? Android has taken leaps and bounds over the last year especially, particularly with the phone market. Now that Android has almost secured top spot in sales of phones, it appears as though Andy Rubin and El Goog are eyeing off the tablet sector with the Nexus 7. After Google/Android masters the tablet range, I’d be guessing they’ll gun for a combined laptop/tablet/phone OS with the next iteration of Android. This makes sense with Google’s Chromebooks said to be in development to become closer to the Android OS. I’m receiving a Chromebook of my own tomorrow and will be investigating this further.

Will Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie be the full combination of mobile devices?

Images: Android Police

Written by : Josh is the founder of Android Australia. He is an adamant vegan, tech enthusiast and psychology student. He is currently a Google Product Specialist so you may see him around in blue. You should probably follow him on Google+ or on Twitter.
  • Cam Charles

    And in true android style until ics i haven’t seen any of those home screens in standard form for more then the 5 minute setup time lol even ics I’ve removed the search bar

    • http://bryce.se Bryce Adams

      Really? I love using search bar, but when Jelly Bean is out I assume I’ll be using voice a lot more and search a lot less.

  • Greg Jacobson

    Still can’t remember Android before FroYo