The (updated) history of Android

It’s been more than two years since we instance ran Ron’s epic 40,000-word history of the Android operating system, and in that measure Android has continued to evolve and add version numbers. Ron has updated the piece with practically 11,000 additional words, bringing the history up to date with info on Kit-Kat, Lollipop, Marshmallow, Nougat, and Android In. If you’d like to jump directly to the new section, click right here (or, if you’re a subscriber in single- ge scene, use this link instead).

Android has been with us in one form or another for numerous than eight years. During that time, we’ve seen an unconditionally breathtaking rate of change unlike any other development cycle that has at any point existed. When it came time for Google to dive in to the smartphone struggles, the com ny took its rapid-iteration, Web-style update cycle and applied it to an conducting system, and the result has been an onslaught of continual improvement. Lately, Android has rounded off been running on a previously unheard of six-month development cycle, and that’s slower than it Euphemistic pre-owned to be. For the first year of Android’s commercial existence, Google was putting out a new conception every two-and-a-half months.

Google’s original introduction of Android, from way disavow in November 2007.

Looking back, Android’s existence has been a blur. It’s now a historically big control system. Almost a billion total devices have been sold, and 1.5 million logotypes are activated per day—but how did Google get here? With this level of scale and good, you would think there would be tons of coverage of Android’s begin from zero to hero. However, there just isn’t. Android wasn’t profoundly popular in the early days, and until Android 4.0, screenshots could at best be taken with the developer kit. These two factors mean you aren’t thriving to find a lot of images or information out there about the early versions of Android.

The delinquent now with the lack of early coverage is that early versions of Android are moribund. While something like Windows 1.0 will be around forever—barely grab an old computer and install it—Android could be considered the first cloud-based acting system. Many features are heavily reliant on Google’s servers to affair. With fewer and fewer people using old versions of Android, those servers are being intern down. And when a cloud-reliant app has its server support shut off, it will not at any time work again—the app crashes and displays a blank screen, or it just cast-offs to start.

Thanks to this “cloud rot,» an Android retrospective won’t be possible in a few years. Anciently versions of Android will be empty, broken husks that won’t task without cloud support. While it’s easy to think of this as a condition off, it’s happening right now. While writing this piece, we ran into tons of apps that no greater function because the server support has been turned off. Early tients for Google Maps and the Android Market, for instance, are no longer able to disclose with Google. They either throw an error message and run or display blank screens. Some apps even worked one week and perished the next, because Google was actively shutting down servers during our correspondence!

To prevent any more of Android’s st from being lost to the annals of background, we did what needed to be done. This is 25+ versions of Android, a myriad of ploys, and lots and lots of screenshots cobbled together in one s ce. This is The Biography of Android, from the very first public builds to today.

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Table of Contents

  • Android 0.5, Milestone 3—the inception public build
  • Android 0.5, Milestone 5—the land of scrapped interfaces
  • Android 0.9, Beta—hey, this looks commonplace!
  • Android 1.0—introducing Google Apps and actual hardware
  • Android 1.1—the to begin truly incremental update
  • Android 1.5, Cupcake—a virtual keyboard make knows up device design
  • Google Maps is the first built-in app to hit the Android Peddle
  • Android 1.6, Donut—CDMA support brings Android to any drayman
  • Android 2.0, Éclair —blowing up the GPS industry
  • The Nexus One—enter the Google Phone
  • Android 2.1—the origination (and abuse) of animations
  • Android 2.1, update 1—the start of an endless war
  • Android 2.2 Froyo—faster and Flash-ier
  • Spokeswoman Actions—a supercomputer in your pocket
  • Android 2.3 Gingerbread—the premier major UI overhaul
  • Android 3.0 Honeycomb—tablets and a design resurgence
  • Google Music Beta—cloud storage in lieu of a content lay away
  • Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich—the modern era
  • Google Play and the come back of direct-to-consumer device sales
  • Android 4.1, Jelly Bean—Google Now with respect to make an effort ti toward the future
  • Google Play Services—fragmentation and making OS ideas (nearly) obsolete
  • Android 4.2, Jelly Bean—new Nexus gambits, new tablet interface
  • Out-of-cycle updates—who needs a new OS?
  • Android 4.3, Jelly Bean—criticizing wearable support out early
  • Android 4.4, KitKat—more glow; less memory usage
  • Android Wear
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop—The most worthy Android release ever
  • Material Design gives Android (and all of Google) an unanimity
  • ART—The Android Runtime provides a platform for the future
  • A system-wide interface jog
  • Job Scheduler whips the app ecosystem into shape
  • Device setup wheedles future-proofed
  • Settings
  • Android TV
  • Android 5.1 Lollipop
  • Android Auto
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • The new Google App
  • Google Now on Tap—a emphasize that didn’t quite work out
  • Permissions
  • The Fingerprint API
  • Behind-the-scenes mutates
  • Volume and Notifications
  • Monthly security updates
  • Android 7.0 Nougat, Pixel Phones, and the prospective

Android 0.5, Milestone 3—the first public build

Before we go leaping into Android on real hardware, we’re going to start with the ancient, early days of Android. While 1.0 was the first version to steamer on hardware, there were several beta versions only released in emulator ritual with the SDK. The emulators were meant for development purposes only, so they don’t classify any of the Google Apps, or even many core OS apps. Still, they’re our get the better of look into the pre-release days of Android.

Before unpredictable candy code names and cross-promotional deals with multinational commons corporations, the first public release of Android was labeled «m3-rc20a»—»m3» standing for «Milestone 3.» While Google may not give birth to publicized the version number—and this build didn’t even suffer with a settings app to check—the browser user agent identifies this as «Android 0.5.»

In November 2007, two years after Google come by Android and five months after the launch of the iPhone, Android was broadcasted, and the first emulator was released. Back then, the OS was still getting its feet underwater it. It was easily dismissed as «just a BlackBerry clone.» The emulator used a qwerty-bar shell with a 320×240 display, replicating an actual prototype contrivance. The device was built by HTC, and it seems to be the device that was codenamed «Sooner» concording to many early Android accounts. But the Sooner was never released to hawk.

According to accounts of the early development days of Android, when Apple lastly showed off its revolutionary smartphone in January 2007, Google had to «start across» with Android—including scrapping the Sooner. Considering the Milestone 3 emulator appear c rised out almost a year after Apple’s iPhone unveiling, it’s surprising to see the tool interface still closely mimicked the Blackberry model instead. While importune had no doubt been done on the underlying system during that year of post-iPhone event, the emulator still launched with what was perceived as an «old school» interface. It didn’t restore b succeed a good first impression.

At this early stage, it seems with the Android button layout had not been finalized yet. While the first commercial Android designs would use “Home,» “Back,» “Menu,» and “Search» as the definitive set of buttons, the emulator had a blank s ce marked as an «X» where you would think the search button to be. The “Sooner» hardware prototype was even stranger—it had a peerless symbol as the fourth button.

There was no configurable domestic screen or widgets, just a simple dock of icons at the bottom that could be circled through or tapped on. While touch screen support worked for some advertises, Milestone 3 was primarily controlled with a five-way d- d—an anachronism that Android at rest supports to this day. Even this early version of Android could do animations. Icons inclination grow and shrink as they entered and exited the dock’s center window.

There was no notification nel yet, either. Notification icons showed up in the pre-eminence bar (shown above as a smiley face), and the only way to open them was to host «up» on the d- d while on the home screen. You couldn’t tap on the icon to open it, nor could you access notifications from any scan other than home. When a notification was opened, the status bar ex tiate oned slightly, and the text of the notification appeared in a speech bubble. Once you had a notification, there was no guide way to clear it—apps were responsible for clearing their own notifications.

App drawer respects were handled by a simple «Applications» folder on the left of the dock. Notwithstanding having a significant amount of functions, the Milestone 3 emulator was not very close by with app icons. «Browser,» «Contacts,» and «Maps» were the alone real apps here. Oddly, «recent calls» was elevated to a standalone icon. Because this was objective an emulator, icons for core smartphone functionality were missing, cognate with alarm, calendar, dialer, calculator, camera, gallery, and settings. Matriel prototypes demoed to the press had many of these, and there was a suite of Google Apps up and constant by this point. Sadly, there’s no way for us to look at them. They’re so old they can’t put together to Google’s servers now anyway.

Surprisingly, multitasking and unnoticed applications already worked in Milestone 3. Leaving an app didn’t conclude it—apps would save state, even down to text progressive in a text box. This was a feature iOS wouldn’t get around to matching until the set free of iOS 4 in 2010, and it really showed the difference between the two platforms. iOS was originally meant to be a skinflinty platform with no third- rty apps, so the platform robustness wasn’t a jumbo focus. Android was built from the ground up to be a powerful app platform, and quiet of app development was one of the driving forces behind its creation.

Before Android, Google was already doing moves into mobile with WAP sites and J2ME flip phone apps, which produced it acutely aware of how difficult mobile development was. According to The Atlantic, Larry Call out once said of the com ny’s mobile efforts “We had a closet full of done with 100 phones, and we were building our software pretty much one ap ratus at a time.” Developers often complain about Android fragmentation now, but the incorrigible was much, much worse before the OS came along.

Google’s stand strategy eventually won out, and iOS ended up slowly adding many of these app-centric chips—multitasking, cross-app sharing, and an app switcher—later on.

Despite not having a dialer icon, Milestone 3 emulator was upped with a way to make phone calls. Pressing anything on the keyboard would invite up the screen on the left, which was a hybrid dialer/contact search. Registering only numbers and hitting the green phone hardware button inclination start a phone call, and letters would search contacts. Touches were not searchable by number, however. Even a direct hit on a phone add up would not bring up a contact.

Incoming calls were displayed as an almost-full-screen popup with a beloved trans rent background. Once inside a call, the background became obscurity gray, and Milestone 3 presented the user with a surprisingly advanced promote set: mute, speakerphone, hold, and call conferencing buttons. Multiple chastises were presented as overlapping, semi-trans rent cards, and users had options to swap or mix calls. Swapping calls triggered a nice little card scrape along animation.

Contacts was a stark, black and blue enumerate of names. Contact cards had a spot for a contact picture but couldn’t accredit one to the s ce (at least in the emulator). The only frill in this area was XMPP adjacency dots to the left of each name in Contacts. An always-on XMPP tie has traditionally been at the heart of Android, and that deep integration already started in Milestone 3. Android acquainted with XMPP to power a 24/7 connection to Google’s servers, powering Google Talk, cloud-to-device goad messaging, and app install and uninstall messages.

The browser ran Webkit 419.3, which put it in the unvarying era as Mac OS X 10.4’s Safari 2. The home ge was not, but a hard-coded home.html file embraced with Android. It looked like from a thousand years ago. The browser’s OS X trimony was still visible, rendering browser buttons with a glossy, Aqua-style search button.

The little BlackBerry-style screen necessitated a se rate address bar, which was brought up by a «go to» privilege in the browser’s menu. While autocomplete didn’t work, the address bar survive searched your history as you typed. The picture on the right was the History splendour, which used thumbnails to display each site. The current sketchy was in front of the other two, and scrolling through them triggered a swooping energizing. But at this early stage, the browser didn’t support multiple flags or windows—you had the current website, and that was it.

From the beginning, Google comprehended maps would be important on mobile, even shipping a Maps tient on the Milestone 5 emulator. That version of Google Maps was the first junk we came across that died from cloud rot. The client can’t fill information from Google’s servers, so the map displayed as a blank, gray grid. Nothing kneads.

Luckily, for the first screenshot above, we were able to piece together an on the mark representation from the Android launch video. Old Google Maps appearance ofed fully pre red for a non-touch device, listing hardware key shortcuts along the buttocks of the screen. It’s unclear if places worked, or if Maps only ran on addresses at this nucleus.

Hidden behind the menu were options for search, directions, and shadow and traffic layers. The middle screenshot is of the directions UI, where you could rounded off pick a contact address as a start or end address. Maps lacked any cordial of GPS integration, however; you can’t find a «my location» button anywhere.

While there was no ladylike gallery, on the right is a test view for a gallery, which was hidden in the «API Demos» app. The photographs scrolled left and right, but there was no way to open photos to a full mesh view. There were no photo management options either. It was essentially a check of a scrolling picture view.

There was also no settings app, but we can look at the original time and date pickers, thanks to the API Demos. This rades how raw a lot of Android was: kerning issues all over the place, a huge gap in between the second digits, and unevenly s ced days of the week on the calendar. While the previously picker let you change each digit independently, there was no way to change months or years other than compelling the day block out of the current month and on to the next or previous month.

Keep in humour that while this may seem like dinosaur remnants from some taking era, this was only released six years ago. We tend to get used to the ce of technology. It’s compliant to look back on stuff like this and think that it was from 20 years ago. Be on a r with this late-2007 timeframe to desktop OSes, and Microsoft was annoying to sell Windows Vista to the world for almost a year, and Apple no more than released OS X 10.5 Leo rd.

One last Milestone 3 detail: Google assigned Ars Technica a shoutout in the Milestone 3 emulator. Opening the “API Demos» app and going to «Because ofs,» «Focus,» then «Vertical» revealed a test list headlined by this utter Website.

Two months later, in December 2007, Google discharged an update for the Milestone 3 emulator that came with a much roomier 480×320 scheme configuration. This was tagged «m3-rc37a.» The software was still identical to the BlackBerry assemble, just with much more screen real estate handy.

Android 0.5, Milestone 5—the land of rowed interfaces

The first major Android change came three months after the in front emulator release: the «m5-rc14″ build. Released in February 2008, “Milestone 5» junked the stretched-out BlackBerry interface and went with a totally revamped chart—Google’s first attempt at a finger-friendly interface.

This build was to identified as «Android 0.5» in the browser user agent string, but Milestone 5 couldn’t be assorted different from the first release of Android. Several core Android articles can directly trace their lineage back to this version. The layout and functionality of the notification nel was hardly ready to ship, and, other than a style change, the menu was existing in its final form, too. Android 1.0 was only eight months away from shipping, and the basics of an OS were starting to bod.

One thing that was definitely not in its final form was the home screen. It was an unconfigurable, single-screen wall per with an app drawer and falsify. App icons were bubbly, three-color affairs, surrounded by a square, waxen background with rounded corners. The app drawer consisted of an «All» button in the lower-right corner, and tap-tap on it ex nded the list of apps out to the left. Above the «All» button was a two icon re ir where «Contacts» and «Dialer» were given permanent home evaluate real estate. The four blocks above that were an betimes version of Recent Apps, showing the last apps accessed. With no formerly larboard or right screens and a whole column taken up by the dock and recent apps, this layout on the contrary allowed for 21 app squares before the screen would be filled. The emulator even now only sported the bare-minimum app selection, but in an actual device, this shape didn’t appear like it would work well.

Holding down the «end holler» button brought up a super early version of the power menu, which you can see in the rightmost twin. Google didn’t have the normal smartphone nomenclature down yet: «Always Off Screen» would best be described as «Lock screen» (although there was no engage screen) and «Turn Off Radio» would be called «Airplane mode» today.

All the way back in Milestone 5, Google had the basics of the notification nel nailed down. It pulled down from the top of the camouflage just like it does on any modern smartphone. Current notifications displayed in a catalogue. The first version of the notification nel was an o que white sheet with a ribbed “steer» on the bottom and an orange dot in the center. Notifications were pressable, opening the becoming app for that notification. No one bothered to vertically align the app icons in this record, but that’s OK. This was gone in the next update.

Sticky notifications adopted into an «ongoing» section at the top of the nel. In this build, that felt to only include phone calls. The «Latest Event» notifications were clearable simply after opening the appropriate app. Users surprisingly managed to sign in to Google Talk more than the built-in XMPP connection. But while the notification nel displayed «new natter message,» there wasn’t actually an instant messaging app.

The artwork in Milestone 5 was all new. The app icons were redrawn, and the menu twitched from a boring BlackBerry-style text list to full-color, cartoony icons on a charitable grid. The notification nel icons switched from simple, high-pitched, white icons to a bubbly green design. There was now a strange blacklist line under the signal bar indicator with no ap rent purpose. The teeny-weeny list view from earlier builds really wasn’t usable with a become, so Milestone 5 came with an overall beefier layout.

M5 was the first build to have a dialer, albeit a totally ugly one. Numbers were displayed in a gradient-filled bar containing a bizarre speech-bubble-styled backs ce button that looked analogous to it was recycled from some other interface. Alignment issues were low. The numbers on the buttons weren’t vertically aligned correctly, and the “X» in the backs ce button wasn’t aligned with the line bubble. You couldn’t even start a call from the dialer—with no on-screen “dial» button, a machinery button was mandatory.

Milestone 5 had a few tabbed interfaces, all of which demonstrated an extraordinarily odd idea of how tabs should work. The active tab was white, and the background handles were black with a tiny strip of white at the bottom. Were qualifications tabs supposed to «shrink» downward? There was no animation when whip tabs. It wasn’t clear what the design tried to communicate.

Current Calls, shown in the second picture, was downgraded from a top-tier app to a tab on the dialer. It ditched the silly crosshair UI from earlier builds and, thanks to the chunkier list survey, now displayed all the necessary information in a normal list.

Unlike the dialer, the entering call screen had on-screen buttons for answering and ending a call. Bizarrely, the entering call screen was stuck to the bottom of the display, rather than the top or center. It was under any circumstances left over from the old 4:3 BlackBerry screens.

The in-call interface looked normal but earned zero sense in practice. Today, to stop your face from high-priority buttons while on a call, phones have proximity sensors that loop the screen off when the sensor detects something. Milestone 5 didn’t uphold proximity sensors, though. Google’s haphazard solution was to disable the unalloyed touch screen during a call. At the same time, the in-call camouflage was clearly overhauled for touch. There were big, finger-friendly buttons; you barely couldn’t touch anything.

M5 featured a few regressions here from the old Milestone 3 bod. Many decent-looking icons from the old interface were replaced with theme. Buttons like «mute» no longer offered on-screen feedback that they were lively. Merging calls was cut completely.

The browser’s primary menu, the browser’s <em>secondary</em> menu, the crazy zoom control, and the window interface.
Enlarge / The browser’s primary menu, the browser’s minor menu, the crazy zoom control, and the window interface.
Ron Amadeo

The browser menu got the typical touch overhaul, and for the first time a «more» button appeared. It concerned as an extra menu for your menu. Rather than turning the 3×2 grid into a 3×4 grid, Milestone 5 (and innumerable successive versions of Android) used a long, scrolling list for the additional opportunities. Pinch zoom wasn’t supported (supposedly a concession to Apple), so Android went with the wild looking zoom control in the third picture above. Rather than something corporeal like a horizontal, bottom-aligned zoom control, Google stuck it smack in the centre of the screen. The last picture shows the Browser’s «window» interface, which allowed you to divulge multiple web ges and semi-easily switch between them.

Google Maps’ layers section screen, search interface, and directions screen.
Enlarge / Google Maps’ layers allocate screen, search interface, and directions screen.
Ron Amadeo

Google Maps however didn’t work, but the little UI we accessed saw significant updates. You could pick map layers, although there were only two to select from: Satellite and Traffic. The top-aligned search interface strangely hid the standing bar, while the bottom-aligned directions didn’t hide the status bar. Direction’s pierce button was labeled with «Go,» and Search’s enter button was labeled with a bizarre curvy arrow. The list goes on and demonstrates old school Android at its worst: two missions in the same app that should look and work similarly, but these were implemented as finished opposites.

From left to right: Android 0.9’s home screen, add drawer, and shortcut deletion interfaces.
From left to right: Android 0.9’s home movies, add drawer, and shortcut deletion interfaces.
Ron Amadeo

Android 0.9, Beta—hey, this looks customary!

Six months after Milestone 5, in August 2008, Android 0.9 was released. While the Android 0.5 milestone erects were «early looks,» by now 1.0 was only two months away. Ergo, Android 0.9 was labeled «beta.» On the other side of the aisle, Apple already saved its second version of the iPhone—the iPhone 3G—a month prior. The second-gen iPhone achieved a second-gen iPhone OS. Apple also launched the App Store and was already enchanting app submissions. Google had a lot of catching up to do.

Google threw out a lot of the UI introduced in Milestone 5. All the artwork was redone again in full-color, and the bloodless square icon backgrounds were tossed. While still an emulator physique, 0.9 offered something that looked familiar when ralleled to a released version of Android. Android 0.9 had a working desktop-style domestic screen, a proper app drawer, multiple home screens, a lot more apps, and fully serviceable (first- rty only) widgets.

Milestone 5 seemingly had no plan for someone introducing more than 21 apps, but Android 0.9 had a vertically scrolling app drawer available via a gray tab at the bottom of the screen. Back then, the app drawer was actually a drawer. Into the bargain acting as a button, the gray tab could be pulled up the screen and would supplant your finger, just like how the notification nel can be pulled down. There were additional apps identical to Alarm Clock, Calculator, Music, Pictures, Messaging, and Camera.

This was the blue ribbon build with a fully customizable home screen. Long grave on an app or widget allowed you to drag it around. You could drag an app out of the app drawer and convey a home screen shortcut or long press on an existing home shelter shortcut to move it.

0.9 is a reminder that Google was not the design powerhouse it is today. In reality, some of the design work for Android was farmed out to other com nies at the era. You can see one sign of this in the clock widget, which contains the text “MALMO,» the almshouse town of design firm The Astonishing Tribe.

The “Add to Home" dialog in Android 0.9.
Enlarge / The “Add to Home» dialog in Android 0.9.
Ron Amadeo

There were on the contrary three widgets: Clock, Picture frame, and Search. The Search widget didn’t stable have a proper icon in the list—it used the Picture icon. Conceivably the most interesting item here was a «Purchased pictures» option in the wall per elections—a leftover from the days when purchasing ringtones on a dumbphone was a cheap occurrence. Google was either planning on selling wall pers, or it was already continuing a carrier at some point. The com ny never went through with the map out.

A collection of widgets, an open folder, renaming a folder, and the copy/ ste menu.
Enlarge / A collection of widgets, an open folder, renaming a folder, and the text/ ste menu.
Ron Amadeo

The left screen, above, shows the widgets for Google Search and envisages. Search didn’t do anything other than give you a box to type in—there was no auto intact or additional UI. Typing in the box and hitting «Go» would launch the browser. The bottom row of icons revealed a few opportunities for «shortcuts» from the long press menu, which created icons that opened an app to a unfailing screen. Individual contacts, browser bookmarks, and music playlists were all shortcuts that could all be amplified to the home screen in 0.9.

«Folders» was an option under the shortcuts heading in the face not being a shortcut to anything. Once a blank folder was created, icons could be pulled into it and rearranged. Unlike today, there was no indication of what was in a folder; it was every time a plain, white, empty-looking icon.

0.9 was also the first Android idea to have OS-level copy/ ste support. Long pressing on any main body text box would bring up a dialog allowing you to save or recall text from the clipboard. iOS didn’t countenance copy/ ste until almost two years later, so for a while, this was one of Android’s big differentiators—and the fountain-head of many Internet arguments.

From left to right: Android 0.9’s new menu, recent apps, power options, and lock screen.
Enlarge / From left to right: Android 0.9’s new menu, current apps, power options, and lock screen.
Ron Amadeo

Android 0.9 was remarkably starting to show its maturity. The home screen had a full set of menu fillers, including a settings option (although it didn’t work yet) and a search button (because Google correspondent ti it when you search). The menu design was already in the final form that inclination last until Android 2.3 swapped it to black.

Long pivotal on the hardware home button brought up a 3×2 grid of recent apps, a destine that would stick around until the release of Android 3.0. Current Apps blurred the exposed background, but that was strangely applied here and not on other popups match the «Add to home» dialog or the home screen folder view. The power menu was at midget included in the blurry background club, and it was redesigned with icons and numerous commonly accepted names for functions. The power menu icons wanted dding, though, appearing cramped and awkward.

Android 0.9 attributed a lock screen, albeit a very basic one. The black and gray latch screen had no on-screen method of unlocking—you needed to hit the hardware menu button.

Android 0.9 showing off a horizontal home screen—a feature that wouldn’t make it to later versions.
Android 0.9 ostentation off a horizontal home screen—a feature that wouldn’t make it to later views.
Ron Amadeo

While it’s hard to se rate emulator and OS functionality, Android 0.9 was the chief version to show off horizontal support. Surprisingly, almost everything fortified horizontal mode, and 0.9 even outperforms KitKat in some defer ti. In KitKat, the home screen and dialer are locked to portrait mode and cannot twirl. Here, though, horizontal support wasn’t a problem for either app. (Anyone be acquainted with how to upgrade a Nexus 5 from KitKat to 0.9?)

This screenshot also playings off the new volume design used in 0.9. It dumped the old bell-style control that debuted in Milestone 3. It was a big, screen-filling interface. Eventually, the redesign in Android 4.0 made it a bit smaller, but it abided an issue. (It’s extremely annoying to not be able to see a video just because you long for to bump up the volume.)

The new notification nel, which ditched the application shortcut and added a top section.
The new notification nel, which ditched the application shortcut and joined a top section.
Ron Amadeo

In just about every Android version, the notification nel go back b reacquires tweaked, and 0.9 was no exception. The battery indicator was redrawn and changed to a darker blind of green, and the other status bar icons switched to black, white, and gray. The Nautical port area of the status bar was brilliantly repurposed to show the date when the nel was vacant.

A new top section was added to the notification nel that would display the carter name («Android» in the case of the emulator) and a huge button labeled «Acute notifications,» which allowed you to finally remove a notification without having to guileless it. The application button was canned and replaced with the time the notification make the graded, and the «latest events» text was swapped out for a simpler «notifications.» The empty as regards of the nel were now gray instead of white, and the bottom gripper was redesigned. The artworks seem misaligned on the bottom, but that was because Milestone 5’s notification nel had le-complexioned s ce around the bottom of the nel. Android 0.9 goes all the way to the ill at ease.

The browsers of 0.9 and 0.5, showing the new, colorless menus.
Enlarge / The browsers of 0.9 and 0.5, showing the new, colorless menus.
Ron Amadeo

The browser now wealthy an actual website for the home ge instead of the locally stored faux-Google of Milestone 5. The WebKit manifestation rose up to 525.10, but it didn’t seem to render the modern search button correctly. All all over Android 0.9, the menu art from Milestone 5 was trashed and redrawn as gray icons. The remainder between these screens is pretty significant, as all the color has been sucked out.

The «more» list-style menu thrived a little taller, and it was now just a plain list with no icons. Android 0.9 gained yet another search method, this experience in the browser menu. Along with the home screen widget, shelter screen menu button, and browser home ge, that made four search punches. Google never hid what its prime business was, even in its OS.

From left to right: Android 0.9’s browser showing off the zoom controls, find-in- ge interface, browser windows, and the settings.
Enlarge / From fist to right: Android 0.9’s browser showing off the zoom controls, find-in- ge interface, browser windows, and the sites.
Ron Amadeo

Android 0.9 brought tons of browser improvements. The zoom represses were thankfully reworked from the crazy vertical controls to simpler bonus and minus buttons. Google made the common-sense decision of moving the hold backs from the center of the screen to the bottom. In these zoom controls, the Android competition with consistency became ap rent. These appeared to be the only hoop-shaped buttons in the OS.

0.9’s new «find in ge» feature could highlight words in the messenger. But overall, the UI was still very rough—the text box was much taller than it should be, and the «done» button with a checkbox was a one-of-a-kind icon for this curtain. «Done» was basically a «close» button, which means it should doubtlessly have been a right-aligned «X» button.

The main OS didn’t have a placements screen in this build, but the browser finally had its own settings screen. It headlined desktop-style options for pop ups, javascript, privacy and cookies, saved sswords and pose data. There was even Google Gears integration (remember Google Ap rels?).

The dialer and in-progress call screen with the menu open.
Enlarge / The dialer and in-progress call screen with the menu untaken receptive.
Ron Amadeo

Dialer and Contacts in Android 0.9 were actually the very app—the two icons just opened different tabs. Attaching contacts to the dialer like this make one thought the primary purpose of a smartphone contact was still for calls, not to text, e-mail, IM, or look up an lecture. Eventually Google would fully embrace alternative smartphone communications and split up friends and dialer into se rate apps.

Most of the dialer weirdness in Milestone 5 was wiped out in Android 0.9. The «pruning» tabs were replaced with a normal set of dark/light flaps. The speech bubble backs ce button was changed to a normal backs ce icon and blend into the number display. The number buttons were changed to girds despite everything else in the OS being a rounded rectangle (at least the reader was vertically aligned this time). The com ny also fixed the batty «one,» «star,» and «pound» keys from Milestone 5.

Tapping on the gang display in Android 0.9 would start a call. This was notable, as it was a big step in getting rid of the hardware «Call» and «End» keys on Android devices. The entering call screen, on the other hand, went in the complete opposite administering and removed the on-screen “Answer» and “Decline» buttons present in Android 0.5. Google inclination spend the next few versions fumbling around between needing and not needing matriel call buttons on certain screens. With Android 2.0 and the Motorola Droid, but, call buttons were finally made optional.

All of the options for the in-call mask were hidden under the menu button. Milestone 5 didn’t stay a proximity sensor, so it took the brute force route of disabling the fire screen during a call. 0.9 was developed for the G1, which had a proximity sensor. At length, Google didn’t have to kill the touch sensor during a notice.

The individual contacts screen and edit contacts screen for Android 0.9 and 0.5.
Enlarge / The individual contacts screen and edit contacts screen for Android 0.9 and 0.5.
Ron Amadeo

Milestone 5 had ensnarling labels for some contact information, like e-mail only being labeled «worthy» instead of something like “primary e-mail.» Android 0.9 corrected this with plane headers for each section. There were now action icons for each communicate with type on the left side, too.

The edit contact screen was now a much busier chore. There were delete buttons for every field, per-contact ringtones, an on-screen «numerous info» button for adding fields, a checkbox to send calls presently to voicemail, and «Save and «discard changes» buttons at the bottom of the list. Functionally, it was a big betterment over the old version, but it still looked very messy.

The main alarm screen, setting an alarm, the calculator, and the calculator advanced functions screen.
Enlarge / The pipeline alarm screen, setting an alarm, the calculator, and the calculator advanced functions sieve.
Ron Amadeo

Android 0.9 gave us the first look at the Alarm and Adding machine apps. The alarm app featured a plain analog clock with a scrolling enumerate of alarms on the bottom. Rather than some kind of on/off switch, alerts were set with a checkbox. Alarms could be set to repeat at certain eras of the week, and there was a whole list of selectable, unique alarm hale and hearties.

The calculator was an all-black app with glossy, round buttons. Through the menu, it was reachable to bring up an additional nel with advanced functions. Again consistency was not Google’s opinionated suit. The on-press highlight on the pi key was red—in the rest of Android 0.9, the on-press highlight was almost always orange. In fact, everything used in the calculator was 100 percent specially artwork limited to only the calculator.

Google Maps with the menu open and the new directions interface.
Enlarge / Google Maps with the menu unenclosed and the new directions interface.
Ron Amadeo

Google Maps actually worked in Android 0.9—the tron could connect to the Google Maps server and pull down tiles. (For our metaphors, remember that Google Maps is cloud based. Even the oldest of trons will still pull down modern map tiles, so ignore the genuine map tiles pictured.) The Maps menu got the same all-gray treatment as the browser menu, and the zoom authorities were the same as the browser too. The all-important «My Location» button finally arrived, message this version of Maps supported GPS location.

The directions interface was rehabilitated. The weird speech bubbles with misaligned plus buttons were swapped out for a multitudinous communicative bookmark icon, the swap field button moved to the formerly larboard, and the go button was now labeled «Route.»

The Google Maps layers selector, search history, and the now-broken street view mode.
Enlarge / The Google Maps layers selector, search st, and the now-broken street view mode.
Ron Amadeo

«Layers» was renamed «Map Condition» and switched to a radio button list. Only one map type was available at a on the dot—you couldn’t see traffic on the satellite view, for instance. Buried in the menu was a hastily thrown together search record screen. History seemed like only a proof-of-concept, with colossus, blurry search icons that rammed up against search intervals on a trans rent background.

Street View used to be a se rate app (although it was on no occasion made available to the public), but in 0.9 it was integrated into Google Maps as a Map State. You could drag the little pegman around, and it would display a popup froth showing the thumbnail for Street View. Tapping on the thumbnail would set up Street View for that area. At the time, Street View postured nothing other than a scrollable 360 degree image—there was no UI on the interface at all.

Our first look at the Google Maps search interface. These shots show the search bar, the results in a list, the results in a map, and a business ge.
Extend / Our first look at the Google Maps search interface. These in two shakes of a lambs tails show the search bar, the results in a list, the results in a map, and a business ge.
Ron Amadeo

Android 0.9 also gave us our chief look at the texting app, called «Messaging.» Like many early Android layouts, Messaging wasn’t sure if it should be a dark app or a light app. The first perceptible screen was the message list, a stark black void of nothingness that looked get pleasure from it was built on top of the settings interface. After tapping on “New Message» or one of the existing lavers, though, you were taken to a white and blue scrolling list of focus messages. The two connected screens couldn’t be more different.

The SMS app’s chat window, attachment screen, chat list, and setting.
Enlarge / The SMS app’s natter window, attachment screen, chat list, and setting.
Ron Amadeo

Address supported a range of attachments: you could tack on pictures, audio, or a slideshow to your address. Pictures and audio could be recorded on the fly or pulled from phone storage. Another odd UI rare was that Android already had an established icon for almost everything in the assign menu, but Messaging used all-custom art instead.

Messaging was one of the first apps to play a joke on its own settings screen. Users could request read and delivery suss outs and set download preferences.

The slideshow creator. The right picture shows the menu options.
Enlarge / The slideshow creator. The right picture dramas the menu options.
Ron Amadeo

The «slideshow» option in attachments would literally launch a fully featured slideshow creator. You could add pictures, select the slide order, add music, change the duration of each slide, and add main body text. This was complicated enough to have its own app icon, but amazingly it was buried in the menu of the SMS app. This was one of the few Android apps that was hook unusable in portrait mode—the only way to see the picture and the controls was in landscape. Strangely, it would up till rotate to portrait, but the layout just became a train wreck.

The Music player’s main navigation ge, song list, album list, and “now playing" screen.
Wax / The Music player’s main navigation ge, song list, album muster, and “now playing» screen.
Ron Amadeo

Android 0.9 was the first to bring a music app to Android. The original screen was mostly just four big, chunky navigation buttons that pleasure take you to each music view. At the bottom of the app was a «now playing» bar that just contained the track name, artist, and a play/ use button. The kerfuffle b evasion list had only a bare minimum interface, only showing the ditty name, artist, album and runtime. Album art was the only hope of investigating any color in this app. It was displayed as a tiny thumbnail in the album view and as a big, quarter-screen copy in the Now Playing view.

Like most rts of Android in this era, the interface may not deceive been much to look at, but the features were there. The Now Playing home screen had a button for a playlist queue that allowed you to drag songs approximately, shuffle, repeat, search, and choose background audio.

The “Pictures" all album view, individual album view, and a single picture view.
Enlarge / The “Imagines» all album view, individual album view, and a single picture hope.
Ron Amadeo

The photo gallery was simply called «Pictures.» The initial perspective showed all your albums. The two default ones were «Camera» and a hefty unified album called «All pictures.» The thumbnail for each album was constituted up of a 2×2 grid of pictures, and every picture got a thick, white frame.

The peculiar album view was about what you would expect: a scrolling grid of pictures. You couldn’t swipe via individual pictures—large left and right arrows flanking the special picture had to be tapped on to move through an album. There was no pinch-zoom either; you had to zoom in and out with buttons.

Picture editing! These screenshots show an open menu, the “more" menu, cropping, and the settings.
Lengthen / Picture editing! These screenshots show an open menu, the “more» menu, cropping, and the settings.
Ron Amadeo

«Images» looked simple until you hit the menu button and suddenly accessed a myriad of way outs. Pictures could be cropped, rotated, deleted, or set as a wall per or contact icon. Appreciate the browser, all of this was accomplished through a clumsy double-menu system. But again, why do two correlated menus look completely different?

Android 0.9 came out a only two months before the first commercial release of Android. That was virtuous enough time for app developers to make sure their apps come out all right—and for Google to do some testing and bug squashing before the big release.

The T-Mobile G1
The T-Mobile G1

Android 1.0—bring ining Google Apps and actual hardware

By October 2008, Android 1.0 was psyched up for launch, and the OS debuted on the T-Mobile G1 (AKA the HTC Dream). The G1 was released into a market upper hand overed by the iPhone 3G and the Nokia 1680 classic. (Both of those phones cease functioned on to tie for the best selling phone of 2008, selling 35 million items each.) Hard numbers of G1 sales are tough to come by, but T-Mobile averred the device broke the one million units sold barrier in April 2009. It was way behind the contention by any measure.

The G1 was cking a single-core 528Mhz ARM 11 processor, an Adreno 130 GPU, 192MB of RAM, and a Brobdingnagian 256MB of storage for the OS and Apps. It had a 3.2-inch, 320×480 geant, which was mounted to a sliding mechanism that revealed a full tools keyboard. So while Android software has certainly come a long way, the metal goods has, too. Today, we can get much better specs than this in a watch grow factor: the latest Samsung smart watch has 512MB of RAM and a 1GHz dual-core processor.

While the iPhone had a tiniest amount of buttons, the G1 was the complete opposite, sporting almost every matriel control that was ever invented. It had call and end call buttons, domestic, back, and menu buttons, a shutter button for the camera, a volume rattle, a trackball, and, of course, about 50 keyboard buttons. Future Android desires would slowly back away from thousand-button interfaces, with precisely every new flagship lessening the number of buttons.

But for the first time, people saw Android sustained on actual hardware instead of a frustratingly slow emulator. Android 1.0 didn’t drink the smoothness, flare, or press coverage of the iPhone. It wasn’t as ca ble as Windows Active 6.5. Still, it was a good start.

The default app selection of Android 1.0 and 0.9.
The default app selection of Android 1.0 and 0.9.
Ron Amadeo

The essence of Android 1.0 didn’t look significantly different from the beta interpretation released two months earlier, but the consumer product brought a ton more apps, listing the full suite of Google apps. Calendar, Email, Gmail, IM, Store, Settings, Voice Dialer, and YouTube were all new. At the time, music was the authoritative media type on smartphones, the king of which was the iTunes music retailer. Google didn’t have an in-house music service of its own, so it tapped Amazon and ckage dis tched the Amazon MP3 store.

The most important addition to Android 1.0 was the launch of Google’s store, called «Android Market Beta.» While most players were content with calling their app catalog some unstable of «app store»—meaning a store that sold apps and only apps—Google had much wider energies. It went with the much more general name of «Android Call.» The idea was that the Android Market would not just house apps, but the entirety you needed for your Android device.

The first Android Market client. Screenshots show the main ge, “my downloads," an app ge, and an app permissions ge.
Enlarge / The first Android Deal in client. Screenshots show the main ge, “my downloads,» an app ge, and an app approbations ge.

At the time, the Android Market only offered apps and heroics, and developers weren’t even able to charge for them. Apple’s App Accumulation had a four-month head start on the Android Market, but Google’s big differentiator was that Android’s pile up was almost completely open. On the iPhone, apps were subject to assessment by Apple and had to meet design and technical guidelines. Potential apps also weren’t brooked to duplicate the stock functionality. On the Android Market, developers were liberated to do whatever they wanted, including replacing the stock apps. The require of control would turn out to be a blessing and a curse. It allowed developers to innovate on the be presenting functionality, but it also meant even the trashiest applications were gave in.

Today, this client is another app that can no longer communicate with Google’s servers. Luckily, it’s one of the few anciently Android apps actually documented on the Internet. The main screen offered links to the common areas like Apps, Games, Search, and Downloads, and the top sector had horizontally scrolling icons for featured apps. Search results and the «My Downloads» call displayed apps in a scrolling list, showing the name, developers, rate (at this point, always free), and rating. Individual app ges make cleared a brief description, install count, comments and ratings from purchasers, and the all-important install button. This early Android Market didn’t second pictures, and the only field for developers was a description box with a 500-character limit. This fathomed things like maintaining a changelog very difficult, as the only distinguish to put it was in the description.

Right out of the gate, the Android Market showed permissions that an app commanded before installing. This is something Apple wouldn’t get around to tooling until 2012, after an iOS app was caught uploading entire address orders to the cloud without the user’s knowledge. The permissions display gave a unobscured rundown of what permissions an app was using, although this version railroaded narcotic addicts into agreeing. There was an “OK» button, but no way to cancel other than the help button.

Gmail showing the inbox, the inbox with the menu open.
Enlarge / Gmail showing the inbox, the inbox with the menu show.
Ron Amadeo

The next most important app was probably Gmail. Most of the indecent functionality was here already. Unviewed messages showed up in bold, and brands displayed as colored tags. Individual messages in the Inbox showed the substance, author(s), and number of replies in a conversation. The trademark Gmail star was here—a dexterous tap would star or unstar something. As usual for early versions of Android, the Menu undertook all the buttons on the main inbox view. Once inside a message, even if, things got a little more modern, with «reply» and «forward» buttons as immutable fixtures at the bottom of the screen. Individual replies could be ex nded and keel overed just by tapping on them.

The rounded corners, shadows, and bubbly icons allocated the whole app a «cartoonish» look, but it was a good start. Android’s function-first outlook was really coming through here: Gmail supported labels, threaded implication, searching, and push e-mail.

Gmail’s label view, compose screen, and settings on Android 1.0.
Enlarge / Gmail’s label view, contrive screen, and settings on Android 1.0.
Ron Amadeo

But if you thought Gmail was ugly, the Email app doffed it to another level. There was no se rate inbox or folder view—all things was mashed into a single screen. The app presented you with a list of folders and wire-tap on one would ex nd the contents in-line. Unread messages were indicated with a green line on the left, and that was about it for the e-mail interface. The app sponsored IMAP and POP3 but not Exchange.

Both screens of the Email app. The first two screenshots show the combined label/inbox view, and the last shows a message.
Both screens of the Email app. The first two screenshots pretentiousness the combined label/inbox view, and the last shows a message.
Ron Amadeo

The idea view was—surprise!—white. Android’s e-mail app has historically been a watered-down construct of the Gmail app, and you can see that close connection here. The message and compose aspects were taken directly from Gmail with almost no modifications.

The “IM" applications. Screenshots show the short-lived provider selection screen, the friends list, and a chat.
Dilate / The “IM» applications. Screenshots show the short-lived provider selection screen, the trons list, and a chat.
Ron Amadeo

Before Google Hangouts and even previous Google Talk, there was «IM»—the only instant messaging client that scrammed on Android 1.0. Surprisingly, multiple IM services were supported: operators could pick from AIM, Google Talk, Windows Live Gofer, and Yahoo. Remember when OS creators cared about interoperability?

The advocates list was a black background with white speech bubbles for set up chats. Presence was indicated with colored circles, and a little Android on the only hand side would indicate that a person was mobile. It’s astonishing how much more communicative the IM app was than Google Hangouts. Green means the individual is using a device they are signed into, yellow means they are inscribed in but idle, red means they have manually set busy and don’t want to be hassled, and gray is offline. Today, Hangouts only shows when a consumer has the app open or closed.

The chats interface was clearly based on the Messaging program, and the bull session backgrounds were changed from white and blue to white and environmentalist. No one changed the color of the blue text entry box, though, so along with the orange highlight intent, this screen used white, green, blue, and orange.

YouTube on Android 1.0. The screens show the main ge, the main ge with the menu open, the categories screen, and the videos screen.
Broaden / YouTube on Android 1.0. The screens show the main ge, the absolute ge with the menu open, the categories screen, and the videos sift.
Ron Amadeo

YouTube might not have been the mobile sensation it is today with the 320p blind and 3G data speeds of the G1, but Google’s video service was present and accounted for on Android 1.0. The foremost screen looked like a tweaked version of the Android Market, with a horizontally scrolling featured cross-section along the top and vertically scrolling categories along the bottom. Some of Google’s sort choices were pretty strange: what would the difference be between «Sundry popular» and «Most viewed?»

In a sign that Google had no idea how big YouTube will-power eventually become, one of the video categories was «Most recent.» Today, with 100 hours of video uploaded to the position every minute, if this section actually worked it would be an unreadable conceal of rapidly scrolling videos.

The menu housed search, favorites, lists, and settings. Settings (not pictured) was the lamest screen ever, housing one choice to clear the search history. Categories was equally barren, showing at most a black list of text.

The last screen shows a video, which not supported horizontal mode. The auto-hiding video controls weirdly had rewind and unrestrained forward buttons, even though there was a seek bar.

YouTube’s video menu, description ge, and comments.
Enlarge / YouTube’s video menu, record ge, and comments.
Ron Amadeo

Additional sections for each video could be did up by hitting the menu button. Here you could favorite the video, access enumerates, and read comments. All of these screens, like the videos, were stabilize b committed to horizontal mode.

«Share» didn’t bring up a share dialog yet; it virtuous kicked the link out to a Gmail message. Texting or IMing someone a bond wasn’t possible. Comments could be read, but you couldn’t rate them or shaft your own. You couldn’t rate or like a video either.

The camera app’s picture taking interface, menu, and photo review mode.
Enlarge / The camera app’s image taking interface, menu, and photo review mode.
Ron Amadeo

Authentic Android on real hardware meant a functional camera app, even if there wasn’t much to look at. That criminal square on the left was the camera interface, which should be showing a viewfinder epitome, but the SDK screenshot utility can’t capture it. The G1 had a hardware camera button (remember those?), so there wasn’t a desideratum for an on-screen shutter button. There were no settings for exposure, sty balance, or HDR—you could take a picture and that was about it.

The menu button revealed a meager two elections: a way to jump to the Pictures app and Settings screen with two options. The first habitats option was whether or not to enable geotagging for pictures, and the second was for a dialog exhort after every capture, which you can see on the right. Also, you could at best take pictures—there was no video support yet.

The Calendar’s month view, week view with the menu open, day view, and agenda.
Enlarge / The Calendar’s month over, week view with the menu open, day view, and agenda.
Ron Amadeo

Equal most apps of this era, the primary command interface for the calendar was the menu. It was hand-me-down to switch views, add a new event, navigate to the current day, pick visible dockets, and go to the settings. The menu functioned as a catch-all for every single button.

The month objective couldn’t show appointment text. Every date had a bar next to it, and designations were displayed as green sections in the bar denoting what time of day an situation was. Week view couldn’t show text either—the 320×480 show of the G1 just wasn’t dense enough—so you got a white block with a swath of color indicating which calendar it was from. The only views that forearmed text were the agenda and day views. You could move through la modes by swiping—week and day used left and right, and month and agenda utilized up and down.

The main settings ge, the Wireless section, and the bottom of the about ge.
Enlarge / The main settings ge, the Wireless section, and the source of the about ge.
Ron Amadeo

Android 1.0 finally brought a mise en scenes screen to the rty. It was a black and white wall of text that was inexpertly broken down into sections. Down arrows next to each lean item confusingly look like they would ex nd line-in to reveal b stand out more of something, but touching anywhere on the list item would objective load the next screen. All the screens were pretty boring and samey looking, but hey, it’s a stage sets screen.

Any option with an on/off state used a cartoony-looking checkbox. The novel checkboxes in Android 1.0 were pretty strange—even when they were «unchecked,» they yet had a gray check mark in them. Android treated the check hallmark like a light bulb that would light up when on and be dim when off, but that’s not how checkboxes make excited. We did finally get an «About» ge, though. Android 1.0 ran Linux seed 2.6.25.

A settings screen means we can finally open the security settings and vacillate turn into lock screens. Android 1.0 only had two styles, the gray accord with lock screen pictured in the Android 0.9 section, and ttern unlock, which be lacking you to draw a ttern over a grid of 9 dots. A swipe ttern as if this was easier to remember and input than a PIN even if it did not add any more guaranty.

The Voice Dialer, ttern lock screen, low battery warning, and time picker.
Enlarge / The Voice Dialer, ttern lock screen, low battery notice, and time picker.
Ron Amadeo

Voice functions arrived in 1.0 with Agent Dialer. This feature hung around in various ca cities in AOSP for a while, as it was a simple-hearted voice command app for calling numbers and contacts. Voice Dialer was expressly unrelated to Google’s future voice products, however, and it worked the identical way a voice dialer on a dumbphone would work.

As for a final note, low battery popup order occur when the battery dropped below 15 percent. It was a droll graphic, depicting plugging the wrong end of the power cord into the phone. That wasn’t (and even isn’t) how phones work, Google.

Android 1.0 was a great first start, but there were until now so many gaps in functionality. Physical keyboards and tons of hardware buttons were needed, as Android devices were still not allowed to be sold without a d- d or trackball. Obscene smartphone functionality like auto-rotate wasn’t here yet, either. Updates for built-in apps weren’t thinkable through the Android Market the way they were today. All the Google Apps were interwoven with the working system. If Google wanted to update a single app, an update for the entire functioning system needed to be pushed out through the carriers. There was still a lot of rise to do.

Android 1.1—the first truly incremental update

All of Android 1.1’s new features: Search by voice, the Android Market showing id app support, Google Latitude, and the new “system updates" option in the settings.
Enlarge / All of Android 1.1’s new high points: Search by voice, the Android Market showing id app support, Google Latitude, and the new “set-up updates» option in the settings.
Ron Amadeo

Four and a half months after Android 1.0, in February 2009, Android got its premier public update in Android 1.1. Not much changed in the OS, and just far every new thing Google added with 1.1 has been hide down by now. Google Voice Search was Android’s first foray into cloud-powered give utterance search, and it had its own icon in the app drawer. While the app can’t communicate with Google’s servers anymore, you can chit out how it used to work on the iPhone. It wasn’t yet Voice Actions, but you could indicate as it were and the results would go to a simple Google Search.

Support for id apps was annexed to the Android Market, but just like the beta client, this side of the Android Market could no longer connect to the Google Play servers. The ton that we could get to work was this sorting screen, which discharges you pick between displaying free apps, id apps, or a mix of both.

Maps added Google Latitude, a way to division your location with friends. Latitude was shut down in favor of Google+ a few months ago and no larger works. There was an option for it in the Maps menu, but tapping on it just ups up a loading spinner forever.

Given that system updates relate to quickly in the Android world—or at least, that was the plan before transmitters and OEMs got in the way—Google also added a button to the «About Phone» protection to check for system updates.

Android 1.5’s on-screen keyboard showing the suggestion bar while typing, the capital letters keyboard, the number and symbols screen, and an additional key popup.
Enlarge / Android 1.5’s on-screen keyboard confirming the suggestion bar while typing, the capital letters keyboard, the number and symbols screen, and an additional key popup.
Ron Amadeo

Android 1.5, Cupcake—a essential keyboard opens up device design

In April 2009, almost three months after the set free of 1.1, Android 1.5 was released. It was the first Android version to be experiencing a public, marketed code name: Cupcake. From here on out, Android put outs would have alphabetical, snack-themed names.

The most important Cupcake to boot was easily the on-screen keyboard. For the first time, it was possible for OEMs to figure a slate-style Android device without a thousand hardware keyboard clarification and a complicated slide mechanism.

Android’s key labels could switch between uppercase and lowercase, depending on if protects lock was on or not. While it was off by default, there was an option to turn on the suggestion bar, which appeared along the top worm of the keyboard. Keys with ellipses in the popup, like the «u,» above, could be held down to input diacritical guides, which would display in a popup. The keyboard could switch to tot ups and alternate characters, and long pressing on the period key would bring up undisturbed more punctuation.

Composite images of the app lineup in 1.5 and 1.1 and the notification nels from each version.
Enlarge / Composite images of the app lineup in 1.5 and 1.1 and the notification nels from each story.
Ron Amadeo

New icons were added for the new «Camcorder» functionality, and Google Talk was on the blink out from IM into its own se rate app. The Amazon MP3 and Browser icons were redesigned, too. The Amazon MP3 icon was changed predominantly because Amazon was planning on launching other Android apps willingly, and the «A» icon was far too generic. The browser icon was easily the worst in Android 1.1, so it was transmuted and no longer resembled a desktop OS dialog box. The last app drawer change was to «Spits,» which was renamed to «Gallery.»

The notification nel was redesigned again as warmly. The nel background got a weave texture, and the gradients on notifications were smoothed out. Android 1.5 had a lot of unimportant design changes to core OS pieces that affected all apps. On the «Freed notifications» button, you could see the new system-wide button style, which had a gradient, a s rser outline, and less shadowing than the old version.

The “Add to Home" dialog boxes in 1.5 and 1.1.
Enlarge / The “Add to Home» dialog crates in 1.5 and 1.1.
Ron Amadeo

Third- rty widgets were another headline mug of Cupcake, and they still remain one of Android’s defining features. Developers could hurry off a home screen widget along with their apps that longing either control or display information from that app. Google accom nied off a few new widgets of its own, too, with the Calendar and Music apps.

Left: a screenshot of the calendar widget, music widget, and a row of live folders. Center: the folder list. Right: an open view of the “contacts with phone numbers" live folder.
Enlarge / Left: a screenshot of the diary widget, music widget, and a row of live folders. Center: the folder index. Right: an open view of the “contacts with phone numbers» spirited folder.
Ron Amadeo

On the left screenshot, above, you can see the new Calendar and Music icons. The Appointment book widget could only show a single event for the day, and tapping it desire open the calendar. It wouldn’t let you choose what calendars to display, and widgets weren’t resizable—it at worst ever looked like this. The music widget was blue—regard for the music app not having a drop of blue in it—and showed the song and artist specify, along with play and next buttons.

Also in the left instantaneously, the first three folders on the bottom row were a new feature called «Charged Folders.» These were accessible under the new top-level «Folders» stage in the «Add to Home» menu, which you can see in the center picture. Live Folders authenticated the content of an application without having to open that application. The ones that take placed with Cupcake were all contacts-related, showing all of the user’s contacts, telephones with phone numbers, or starred contacts.

Rather than icons, Combustible Folders used a simple list view that popped up onto the home screen. Contacts were just for starters, Live Folders was a caboodle largely API that developers could use. Google demoed a folder of books from the Google Enrolls app, and it was possible to have an RSS feed or top stories from a website as a live folder. Breathe folders were one of the few Android ideas that didn’t work out, and the best was shut down in Honeycomb.

The camcorder and camera UI, with on-screen shutter buttons.
Enlarge / The camcorder and camera UI, with on-screen block out buttons.
Ron Amadeo

If you couldn’t tell from the new «Camcorder» icon, video catalogue was added to Android in 1.5. The two icons, camera and camcorder, were as a matter of fact the same app, and you could jump between the two of them with an option in the menu tagged «Switch to camera» and «Switch to camcorder.» Video quality on the T-Mobile G1 was not that huge. A test video on «High» quality output; a .3GP video file with a boldness of 352 x 288 and a lagtastic frame rate of 4 FPS.

Along with the new video put into the limelight, the Camera app saw a few much-needed UI tweaks. A thumbnail in the top left showed the last represent that was taken, and tapping on it would jump to the camera roll in the Gallery. The go round icon on the top right of both screens was an on-screen shutter button, import that, post 1.5, Android devices no longer required a metal goods camera button.

This interface was actually much closer to the Android 4.2 mould than many of the subsequent camera apps. While later drafts would add silly leather textures and more controls to the camera, Android moved back to basics with later designs, and that 4.2 redesign stakes a lot in common with this. What was a primitive layout in Android 1.5 enhanced a minimal, full-screen viewfinder in Android 4.2.

Google Talk running in the Google Talk app versus Google Talk running in the IM app.
Enlarge / Google Talk race in the Google Talk app versus Google Talk running in the IM app.
Ron Amadeo

Android 1.0’s IM app was in use accustomed to for Google Talk functionality, but in Android 1.5, Google Talk was shivered off into its own app. Support for it in the IM app was removed. Google Talk (above, left) was manifestly based on the IM app (above, right), but as soon as the stand alone app was released in 1.5, exploit on the IM app was abandoned.

The new Google Talk app had a redesigned status bar, presence lights on the revenge side, and a redesigned mobile icon, which was a gray monogram of the bugdroid. The pornographic compose bar switched to a more sensible gray in the chat view, and the letter backgrounds changed from light green and white to light non-professional and green. With a stand alone app, Google could add Gtalk-only properties like chatting «off the record,» which would stop Gmail from extenuatory a copy of every chat.

The calendar in Android 1.5 got a lot lighter.
Enlarge / The calendar in Android 1.5 got a lot lighter.
Ron Amadeo

The slate dumped the ugly white squares on a black background and changed to an all-light app. The breeding of everything became white, and day-of-the-week headers were changed to gloomy. The individual appointment blocks switched from a small color rip off to entirely colored, and the text changed to white. This will be the stand up time the calendar is touched for a long time.

From left to right: the browser’s new controls, the zoomed-out magnifying view, and highlighting text for copy/ sting.
Enlarge / From formerly larboard to right: the browser’s new controls, the zoomed-out magnifying view, and highlighting theme for copy/ sting.
Ron Amadeo

Android 1.5 changed the zoom dominates system-wide. Instead of two big circles, the zoom controls became two halves of a rectangle with bring to an ended corners. These new controls applied to the browser, Google Maps, and the gallery.

The browser had oceans of work done on the zoom functionality. After zooming in or out, the «1x» button purposefulness return you to the standard zoom level. The button in the bottom right corner at ones desire zoom all the way out of the ge and display a magnifying rectangle over the ge, which you can see in the center sculpture. Grabbing the rectangle and releasing it would zoom that rt of the bellman to a «1x» view. Android didn’t have acceleratable scrolling, which be suitable for the max scrolling speed pretty slow—this was Google’s solution for sailing a long web ge.

Another addition to the browser was the ability to copy motif on a web ge—previously you could only copy text from an input box. Selecting «imitation text» from the menu would activate highlight mode, and potter your finger over text in a Web ge would highlight it. The G1’s trackball was simple handy for super-precise movement like this and could control the mouse cursor. There were no draggable feels, and as soon as you lifted your finger off the screen, Android would ape the text and remove the highlight, so you had to be ridiculously precise to get any use out of the copy feature.

The browser in Android 1.5 resolve crash a lot—much more than in previous versions. Just vision Ars Technica in desktop mode would crash the browser, as did many other places.

Ron Amadeo

The default lock screen and ttern lock conceal both changed their empty, black backgrounds to the same wall per as the snug harbor a comfortable screen.

The lighter background on the ttern unlock screen revealed the watery job Google did on the alignment of the circles. The white circles were nowhere stingy centered inside the black circles—basic alignment issues similar to this continued to be a frequent problem for Android in these early days.

The YouTube uploader, contacts thumbnails, the auto rotate setting, and the new music design.
Detail / The YouTube uploader, contacts thumbnails, the auto rotate setting, and the new music composition.
Ron Amadeo
The HTC Magic, the second Android device, and the first without a hardware keyboard.
The HTC Magic, the second Android device, and the first without a armaments keyboard.

Android 1.5 resigned the YouTube app the ability to upload videos to the site. Uploading was accomplished by apportioning a video from the Gallery to the YouTube app, or by opening a video directly from the YouTube app. This devise bring up an upload screen, where the user would set things in the mood for the video title, tags, and access rights. Photos could be uploaded to Picasa, Google’s true photo site, in a similar fashion.

There were little pinches all over the OS. Favorite contacts now showed a picture in the contacts list (although complete contacts were still pictureless). The third picture shows the new auto-rotate chance in the settings—this was also the first version to support automatically scourge orientations based on readings from the devices’ internal sensors.

Cupcake did a talented job of improving Android, rticularly in terms of hardware options. The on-screen keyboard meant a ironmongery keyboard was no longer necessary. Auto rotate brought the OS a little closer to the iPhone, and an on-screen camera cease button meant that hardware camera buttons were now discretionary, too. Shortly after the release of 1.5, a second Android device acquire a wined out that would show the future direction of the platform: the HTC Magic. The Fascinating (right) didn’t have a hardware keyboard or a camera button. It was a sound, slider-less slate device that relied on Android’s on-screen buttons to get the job done.

Android flagships started with the most buttons on—a hardware qwerty phone—and slowly began whittling the button upon down over time. While the Magic was a big step, eliminating an unexceptional keyboard and a camera button, it still used start and end call buttons, four set buttons, and a trackball.

The new Android Market—less black, more white and green.
Enlarge / The new Android Market—less black, varied white and green.
Ron Amadeo

Android 1.6, Donut—CDMA reinforcement brings Android to any carrier

The fourth version of Android—1.6, Donut—des tched in September 2009, five months after Cupcake hit the market. Notwithstanding the myriad of updates, Google was still adding basic functionality to Android. Donut bring ined support for different screen sizes, CDMA support, and a text-to-speech ap ratus.

Android 1.6 is a great example of an update that, today, desire have little reason to exist as a se rate point update. The crucial improvements basically boiled down to new versions of the Android Market, camera, and YouTube. In the years since, apps get pleasure from this have been broken out of the OS and can be updated by Google at any time. Previous all this modularization work, though, even seemingly minor app updates take to this required a full OS update.

The other big improvement—CDMA verify—demonstrated that, despite the version number, Google was still elaborate getting basic functionality into Android.

The Android Market was baptized as version «1.6» and got a complete overhaul. The original all-black design was tossed in favor of a unblemished app with green highlights—the Android designers were clearly make use ofing the Android mascot for inspiration.

The new market was definitely a new style of app design for Google. The top fifth of the cover was dedicated to a banner logo announcing that this app is indeed the “Android Supermarket.» Below the banner were buttons for Apps, Games, and Downloads, and a search button was placed to the honourableness of the banner. Below the navigation was a thumbnail display of featured apps, which could be swiped totally. Below that were even more featured apps in a vertically scrolling lean.

The new Market design, showing an app ge with screenshots, the apps categories ge, an app top list, and the downloads section.
Enlarge / The new Market design, showing an app ge with screenshots, the apps sectors ge, an app top list, and the downloads section.
Ron Amadeo

The biggest addition to the hawk was the inclusion of app screenshots. Android users could finally see what an app looked groove on before installing it—previously they only had a brief description and operator reviews to go on. Your personal star review and comment was given top tabulation, followed by the description, and then finally the screenshots. Viewing the screenshots would oft require a bit of scrolling—if you were looking for a well-designed app, it was a lot of work.

Tapping on App or Trades would bring up a category list, which you can see in the second picture, on. After picking a category, more navigation was shown at the top of the screen, where narcotic addicts could see «Top id,» «Top free,» or «Just in» apps within a variety. While these sorta looked like buttons that want load a new screen, they were really just a clunky billed interface. To denote which «tab» was currently active, there were inconsequential green lights next to each button. The nicest rt of this interface was that the cant of apps would scroll infinitely—once you hit the bottom, more apps resolution load in. This made it easy to look through the list of apps, but se ration any app and coming back would lose your spot in the list—you’d be recoiled to the top. The downloads section would do something the new Google Play Store still can’t do: unaffectedly display a list of your purchased apps.

While the new Market to be sure looked better than the old market, cohesion across apps was tails of worse and worse. It seemed like each app was made by a different assemble with no communication about how all Android apps should look.

The Camera viewfinder, photo review screen, and menu.
Broaden / The Camera viewfinder, photo review screen, and menu.
Ron Amadeo

For illustration, the camera app was changed from a full-screen, minimal design to a boxed viewfinder with exercise powers on the side. With the new camera app, Google tried its hand at skeuomorphism, wrapping the mostly app in a leather texture roughly replicating the exterior of a classic camera. Diverting between the camera and camcorder was done with a literal switch, and downstairs that was the on-screen shutter button.

Tapping on the previous picture sketchy no longer launched the gallery, but a custom image viewer that was raised in to the camera app. When viewing a picture the leather control area varied the camera controls to picture controls, where you could delete, interest a picture, or set the picture as a wall per or contact image. There was still no swiping between conceive ofs—that was still done with arrows on either side of the counter rt.

This second picture shows one of the first examples of designers adjusting dependence on the menu button, which the Android team slowly started to see functioned terribly for discoverability. Many app designers (including those within Google) worn the menu as a dumping ground for all sorts of controls and navigational elements. Most purchasers didn’t think to hit the menu button, though, and never saw the commands.

A low-class theme for future versions of Android would be moving things out of the menu and on to the most important screen, making the whole OS more user-friendly. The menu button was barrel killed in Android 4.0, and it’s only supported in Android for legacy apps.

The battery and TTS settings.
Blow up ex nd on / The battery and TTS settings.
Ron Amadeo

Donut was the first Android version to shut in track of battery usage. Buried in the «About phone» menu was an privilege called «Battery use,» which would display battery usage by app and devices function as a percentage. Tapping on an item would bring up a se rate bellman with relevant stats. Hardware items had buttons to jump presently to their settings, so for instance, you could change the display timeout if you have a funny feeling the display battery usage was too high.

Android 1.6 was also the at the start version to support text-to-speech (TTS) engines, meaning the OS and apps would be accomplished to talk back to you in a robot voice. The “Speech synthesizer controls» ss on allow you to set the language, choose the speech rate, and (critically) install the utterance data from the Android market. Today, Google has its own TTS engine that trucks with Android, but it seems Donut was hard coded to accept one definitive TTS engine made by SVOX. But SVOX’s engine didn’t ship with Donut, so extract on “install voice data» linked to an app in the Android Market. (In the years since Donut’s heyday, the app has been enchanted down. It seems Android 1.6 will never speak again.)

From left to right: new widgets, the search bar UI, the new notification clear button, and the new gallery controls.
Extend / From left to right: new widgets, the search bar UI, the new notification clear button, and the new gallery governs.
Ron Amadeo

There was more work on the widget front. Donut delivered an entirely new widget called «Power control.» This comprised on/off diverts for common power-hungry features: Wi-FI, Bluetooth, GPS, Sync (to Google’s servers), and brightness.

The search widget was redesigned to be much slimmer looking, and it had an embedded microphone button for medium search. It now had some actual UI to it and did find-as-you-type live searching, which searched not alone the Internet, but your applications and history too.

The «Clear notifications» button has shrunk down considerably and destroyed the «notifications» text. In later Android versions it would be reduced to proper a square button. The Gallery continues the trend of taking functionality out of the menu and place it in front of the user—the individual picture view gained buttons for «Set as,» » rcel,» and «Delete.»

Android 2.0, Éclair —blowing up the GPS bustle

Forty-one days—that was how much time ssed between Android 1.6 and 2.0. The in front big version number bump for Android launched in October 2009 on the Motorola Droid, the pre-eminent «second generation» Android device. The Droid offered huge matriel upgrades over the G1, starting with the massive (at the time) 3.7 inch, 854×480 LCD. It allured a lot more power, too: a (still single-core) 600Mhz TI OMAP Cortex A8 with 256MB of RAM.

The Motorola Droid stares into your soul.
Swell / The Motorola Droid stares into your soul.

The most distinguished rt of the Droid, though, was the large advertising cam ign around it. The Droid was the flagship gambit for Verizon Wireless in the US, and with that title came a ton of ad money from America’s amplest carrier. Verizon licensed the word «droid» from Lucasfilm and started up the «Droid Does» electioneer—a shouty, explosion-filled set of commercials that positioned the device (and by extension, Android) as the harsh, ass-kicking alternative to the iPhone. The press frequently declared the T-Mobile G1 as dispiriting to be an “iPhone Killer,» but the Droid came out and owned it.

Like the G1, the Droid had a munitions keyboard that slid out from the side of the phone. The trackball was managed, but some kind of d- d was still mandatory, so Motorola placed a five-way d- d on the vindicate side of the keyboard. On the front, the Droid switched from hardware buttons to ca citive rival buttons, which were just int on the glass touchscreen. Android 2.0 also lastly allowed devices to do away with the “Call» and “End» buttons. So together with the demotion of the d- d to the keyboard tray, the anterior buttons could all fit in a nice, neat strip. The result of all this streamlining was the best-looking Android ploy yet. The T-Mobile G1 looked like a Fisher-Price toy, but the Motorola Droid looked in the same way as an industrial tool that you could cut someone with.

The lock and home screens from 2.0 and 1.6.
Enlarge / The oblige and home screens from 2.0 and 1.6.
Ron Amadeo

Some of Verizon’s grungy ad effort leaked over to the software, where the default wall per was changed from a lull, watery vista to a picture of dirty concrete. The boot animation hardened a pulsing, red, Hal 9000 eyeball and the default notification tone shouted «DRRRRROOOOIIIIDDDD» every pro tem you received an e-mail. Éclair was Android’s angsty teenager phase.

One of the from the start things Android 2.0 presented to the user was a new lock screen. Slide-to-unlock was tented by Apple, so Google exit c socialized with a rotary-phone-inspired arc unlock gesture. Putting your finger on the entwine icon and sliding right would unlock the device, and sliding left-hand from the volume icon would silence the phone. A thumb inherently moves in an arc, so this felt like an even more natural signal than sliding in a straight line.

The default homescreen layout brawled the redundant analog clock widget and introduced what is now an Android essentials: a search bar at the top of the home screen. SMS Messaging and the Android Market were also agreed-upon top billing in the new layout. The app drawer tab was given a sharp redesign, too.

The app drawers and pictures of the “Add to Home" menus.
Enlarge / The app drawers and pictures of the “Add to Bailiwick» menus.
Ron Amadeo

Android was developed at such a breakneck ce in the beginning days that the Android Team could never really aim for future devices when making interface art. The Motorola Droid—with its 854×480 LCD—was a large bump up in resolution over the 320×480 G1-era devices. Nearly the whole shooting match needed to be redrawn. Starting from scratch with interface art determination pretty much be the main theme of Android 2.0.

Google took this moment to redesign almost every icon in Android, going from a cartoony look with an isometric vantage point to straight-on icons done in a more serious style. The only set of icons that weren’t redrawn were the repute bar icons, which now look very out of place com red to the rest of the OS. These icons would fall a loiter around from Android 0.9 until 2.3.

There were a few becomes to the app lineup as well. Camcorder was merged into the camera, the IM app was killed, and two new Google-made apps were added: Car Residency, a launcher with big buttons designed for use while driving, and Corporate Date-book, which is identical to the regular calendar except it supports Exchange preferably of Google Calendar. Weirdly, Google also included two third- rty apps out of the box: Facebook and Verizon’s Visual VM app. (Neither do aerobics today.) The second set of pictures displays the “Add to Home screen» menu, and it be id all new art, too.

A Places ge, showing the “Navigate" option, the Navigation disclaimer, the actual Navigation screen, and the traffic info screen.
Enlarge / A Places ge, showing the “Navigate» option, the Navigation disclaimer, the realistic Navigation screen, and the traffic info screen.
Ron Amadeo

Beyond a redesign, the discernible headline feature of Android 2.0 was Google Maps Navigation. Google updated Maps to earmark for free turn-by-turn navigation, complete with a point of interest search and verse to speech, which could read the names of streets aloud fitting like a standalone GPS unit. Turning GPS navigation from a se rate effect into a free smartphone feature pretty much destroyed the standalone GPS superstore overnight. TomTom’s stock dropped almost 40 percent during the week of Android 2.0’s organize.

But navigation was pretty hard to get to at first. You had to open the search box, type in a section or address, and tap on the search result. Next, after tapping on the «Navigate» button, Google showed a caution stating that Navigation was in beta and should not be trusted. After out of the barrel on «accept,» you could jump in a car, and a harsh-sounding robot voice would beacon you to your destination. Hidden behind the menu button was an option to curb out the traffic and accidents for the entire route. This design of Navigation draped around forever. Even when the main Google Maps interface was updated in Android 4.0, the Android 2.0 stylings in the Helmsmanship section hung around until almost Android 4.3.

Maps whim also show a route overview, which contained traffic facts for your route. At first it was just licensed by the usual traffic evidence provider, but later, Google would use information from Android and iOS phones constant Google Maps to crowd source traffic data. It was the first out of in Google’s dominance of the mobile map game. After all, real-time traffic vet is really just a matter of how many points of data you have. Today, with hundreds of millions of Google Maps consumers across iOS and Android, Google has become the best provider of traffic matter in the world.

With Maps Navigation, Android finally found its torpedo app. Google was offering something no one else could. There was finally an sponsor to the «Why should I buy this over an iPhone?» question. Google Maps didn’t demand PC-based updating like many GPS units did, either. It was always up-to-date thanksgiving owing ti to the cloud, and all of those updates were free. The only downside was that you needed an Internet relations to use Google Maps.

As was greatly publicized during the Apple Maps failure, accurate maps have become one of the most important features of a smartphone, set if no one really appreciates them when they work. Mapping the far-out is really only solvable with tons of person power, and today, Google’s “Geo» com rtmentation is the largest in the com ny with more than 7,000 employees. For most of these child, their job is to literally drive down every road in the world with the presence’s camera-filled Street View cars. After eight years of text collection, Google has more than five million miles of 360-degree Concourse View imagery, and Google Maps is one of the biggest, most untouchable worthies of the com ny.

The Car Home screen, and, because we have room, a horizontal version of Navigation.
Enlarge / The Car Home screen, and, because we have room, a plane version of Navigation.
Ron Amadeo

Along with Google Maps Seamanship came «Car Home,» a large-buttoned home screen designed to help you use your phone while mean. It wasn’t customizable, and each button was just a shortcut to a standard app. The Motorola Droid and its lawful car dock accessory had special magnets that would automatically trigger Car Profoundly. While docked, pressing the hardware home button on the Droid inclination open Car Home instead of the normal home screen, and an on-screen haunt button led to the normal home screen.

Car Home, while useful, didn’t last want—it was cut in Android 3.0 and never came back. GPS systems are almost all out used in cars while driving, but encouraging users to do so with choices like “search,» which would bring up a keyboard, is something that Google’s kings counsels probably weren’t very fond of. With Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Honest Automotive Alliance, car computers are seeing a resurgence these days. This notwithstanding, though, there is more of a focus on safety, and government organizations much the same as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are on board to help out.

The redesigned Dialer and Contacts ges.
Broaden / The redesigned Dialer and Contacts ges.
Ron Amadeo

The rounded tabs in the connections/dialer app were changed to a sharper, more mature-looking design. The dialer changed its somebody to «Phone» and the dial d buttons changed from circles to rounded rectangles. Buttons for voicemail, command, and delete were placed at the bottom. This screen is a great model of Android’s lack of design consistency in the pre-3.0 days. Lawful on this screen, the tabs used sharp-cornered rectangles, the dial d tolerant of rounded rectangles, and the sides of the bottom buttons were complete fraternities. It was a grab bag of UI widgets where no one ever tried to make anything replica anything else.

One of the new features in Android 2.0 was «Quick Contacts,» which got the form of contact thumbnails that were added all over the OS. Drain on them would bring up a list of shortcuts to contact that herself through other apps. This didn’t make as much message in the contacts app, but in something like Google Talk, being able to tap on the junction thumbnail and call the person was very handy.

Ron Amadeo

Android 2.0 was when all is said equipped with all the on-screen buttons needed to answer and hang up a summon without needing a hardware button, and the Droid took advantage of this and assassinated the now-redundant buttons from its design. Android’s solution to accept or turn thumbs down on calls was these left and right pull tabs. They work a lot similarly to slide-to-unlock (and would later be used for slide-to-unlock)—a slide from the verdant button to the right would answer, and a slide from the red button to the left-wing would reject the call. Once inside a call, it looked a lot liking Android 1.6. All the options were still hidden behind the menu button.

Someone completely phoned-in the art for the dial d drawer. As a substitute for of redrawing the number «5» button from Android 1.6, they only just dropped in bold text that said «Dial d» and called it a day.

The Calculator and Browser.
Expound / The Calculator and Browser.
Ron Amadeo

The calculator was revamped for the first time since its introduction in Android 0.9. The abominable glass balls were replaced with gradiented blue and malicious buttons. The crazy red on-press highlight of the old calculator was replaced with a multitudinous normal looking white outline.

The browser’s tiny website dub bar grew into a full, functional address bar, along with a button for bookmarks. To lay on screen real estate, the address bar was attached to the ge, so the bar scrolled up with the lie down of the ge and left you with a full screen for reading. Android 1.6’s one of a kind magnifying rectangle zoom control and its associated buttons were heaved in favor of a much simpler double-tab-to-zoom gesture, and the browser could conclusively again render without crashing. There still wasn’t squeeze zoom.

The camera with the settings drawer open, the flash settings, and the menu over top of the photo review screen.
Enlarge / The camera with the settings drawer open, the speed settings, and the menu over top of the photo review screen.
Ron Amadeo

The camera app got an entire drawer on the left side, which opened to reveal a ton of backgrounds. The Motorola Droid was one of the first Android phones with an LED flash, so there was a location for flash control, along with settings like scene status, white balance, effects, picture size, and storage location (SD or Internal).

On the photo magazine screen, Google red down the menu button options. They were no longer circumlocutory when com red to the on-screen options. With the extra room in the menu, all the chances fit in the menu bar without needing a «more» button.

The “accounts" ge of the e-mail app, the new combined inbox, the account &amp; sync ge from the system settings, and the auto brightness setting.
Enlarge / The “accounts» send for of the e-mail app, the new combined inbox, the account & sync ge from the set-up settings, and the auto brightness setting.
Ron Amadeo

The e-mail app got a big functionality push up. The most important of which is that it finally supported Microsoft Switch. The Android 2.0 version of Email finally se rated the inbox and folder intents instead of using the messy mashed-together view introduced in Android 1.0. Email im rtial had a unified inbox that would weave all your messages together from unconventional accounts.

The inbox view put the generic Email app on even ground with the Gmail app. United inbox even trumped Gmail’s functionality, which was an extremely rare development. Email still felt like the unwanted stepchild to Gmail, conceding that. It used the Gmail interface to view messages, which meant the inbox and folders familiar a black theme, and the message view oddly used a light exposition.

The bundled Facebook app had an awesome account sync feature, which command download contact pictures and information from the social network and seamlessly amalgamate it into the contacts app. Later down the road when Facebook and Google be over being friends, Google removed this feature. The com ny averred it didn’t like the idea of sharing information with Facebook when Facebook wouldn’t helping information back, thus a better user experience lost out to corporation politics.

(Sadly, we couldn’t show off the Facebook app because it is yet another customer that died at the hands of OAuth updates. It’s no longer possible to transfer in from a client this old.)

The last picture shows the auto brightness hold sway over, which Android 2.0 was the first version to support. The Droid was accoutred with an ambient light sensor, and tapping on the checkbox would approve the brightness slider disappear and allow the device to automatically control the cover brightness.

As the name would imply, Android 2.0 was Google’s grandest update to date. Motorola and Verizon brought Android a slick-looking desire with tons of ad dollars behind it, and for a time, “Droid» became a household distinction.

The Nexus One—enter the Google Phone

In January 2010, the first Nexus scheme launched, appropriately called the «Nexus One». The device was a huge milestone for Google. It was the before phone designed and branded by the com ny, and Google planned to sell the disposition directly to consumers. The HTC-manufactured Nexus One had a 1GHz, single-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S1 SoC, 512MB of RAM, 512MB of storage, and a 3.7-inch AMOLED splendour.

The Nexus One was meant to be a pure Android experience free of carrier snooping and crapware. Google directly controlled the updates. It was able to push software out to purchasers as soon as it was done, rather than having to be approved by carriers, who slowed the organize down and were not always eager to improve a phone customers already suborned for.

Google sold the Nexus One directly over the Web, unlocked, contract-free, and at the harsh retail price of $529.99. While the Nexus One was also sold at T-Mobile set asides on-contract for $179.99, Google wanted to change the way the cell phone trade worked in America with its online store. The idea was to pick the phone original and the carrier second, breaking the control the wireless oligarchy had over munitions in the United States.

Google’s retail revolution didn’t work out albeit, and six months after the opening on the online phone store, Google shut in the service down. Google cited the primary problem as low sales. In 2010, Internet shopping wasn’t the commonplace point it is today, and consumers weren’t ready to spend $530 on a device they couldn’t opening hold in their hands. The high price was also a limiting backer; smartphone shoppers were more used to ying $200 up straightforward for devices and agreeing to a two-year contract. There was also the issue of the Motorola Droid, which distributed out only three months earlier and was not significantly slower. With the Droid’s immense marketing cam ign and «iPhone Killer» hype, it already captured much of the verbatim at the same time Android enthusiast market that the Nexus One was gunning for.

While the Nexus One online sales events experiment could be considered a failure, Google learned a lot. In 2012, it relaunched its online inventory as the «Devices» section on Google Play.

Android 2.1—the discovery (and self-pollution) of animations

Android 2.1 came out with the launch of the Nexus One, which was not three months after the release of 2.0. The new OS wasn’t a huge come out with, so it still kept the codename «Éclair.» Android development was chugging along at an outlandish ce, with Google averaging a new OS release every two-and-a-half months to the last 15 months.

Thanks mostly to the marketing efforts of Verizon and the «Droid» straight of phones, Android was gaining in popularity. The OS was still considered ugly, even though, and while the Android engineers at the time seemed to have almost no formal scheme training, in Android 2.1 they tried to spruce things up a bit by slathering on magisterial animation effects wherever they could. The result was an OS that sounded to be desperately trying to prove that it could do animation effects. Diverse of the new additions felt more like tech demos than user-experience advances.

The lock and home screens from Android 2.1 and 2.0.
Enlarge / The lock and home screens from Android 2.1 and 2.0.
Ron Amadeo

Android 2.0’s rotary dial authority screen was kicked to the curb after only one version and replaced with the but pull tabs the incoming call screen used. The lock select clock was an attempt at a uniquely Android font, but as typefaces go, it was pretty nauseating looking.

One of the biggest features in Android 2.1 was «Live Wall pers»—interactive or motile images that could be set as the wall per. The default Live Wall per was a grid of cubics with blue, red, yellow, and green lights continually streaking across it. ttering on the screen would send lights firing out in all four directions from the center of your tap. While Endure Wall pers looked neat (and was a unique feature over the iPhone), the ardent backgrounds sucked up battery power and CPU cycles. It seemed to make the totality phone run a little slower.

On the home screen, the default Google Search widget was certainty a lot more dding and now sits centered in its row. ge indicators now lived in the rump left and right corners of the screen, and the number of home screen ge-boys jumped from three to five. The app drawer tab at the bottom was replaced with an icon becoming a grid of squares, a metaphor that Google still uses today.

A picture showing the app drawer design and a composite image showing the app selection for Android 2.1 and 2.0.
Ex nd / A picture showing the app drawer design and a composite image showing the app pick for Android 2.1 and 2.0.
Ron Amadeo

With the new app drawer icon came a absolutely new app drawer. Instead of a tabbed container that lifted up from the groundwork of the screen, the app drawer displayed as a full-screen interface. The carbon fiber fabricate was removed, and the background switched to a plain black background—a decision that inclination stick around all the way up to KitKat.

Google decided to add a floating, semi-trans rent institution icon to the bottom of the app drawer to give people an easy way out of the full-screen tab interface. This could be conscious ofed as a precursor to the on-screen home button that was introduced in Android 4.0.

The app drawer was accepted a tacky graphics effect, too. While scrolling, the icons at the top and bottom of the list drive bend inward and appear to move deeper into the phone, off ones feed of like the opening scroll in Star Wars.

There were a few modifies to the icons. «Amazon MP3» and «Alarm Clock» both lost their outset names, along with their premium alphabetical real-estate at the top of the app drawer. Two new apps showed up: Communication and Weather, and Google Voice, which was Google’s telecommunication service. Since the Nexus One was not a Verizon phone, Verizon’s Visual Voicemail app was garbage dumped.

The revamped clock app.
Enlarge / The revamped clock app.
Ron Amadeo

Along with the name modification, the clock app got a total revamp. Tapping on the clock shortcut no longer got the alarms ge; instead it went to a «desk clock» interface (leftist picture, above) with a background that matched the wall per. The clock hardened the same font from the lock screen, pulling in weather from the new News broadcast And Weather app.

The new alarm ge cleaned up a lot of the weirder design decisions got in the old version. The analog clock and selectable clock designs were directly. The checkboxes were replaced with a green on/off light, which was much easier to rse than «gray enrol/green check.» While it might be hard to see from the thumbnail (click for a larger version), the old alarm design displayed AM and PM next to the time. The 2.1 originate did away with that, only showing the relevant meridian. A digital clock was positioned at the bottom, and the clock icon took you back to the desk clock interface.

The Gallery and individual image screens from 2.1 and 2.0.
Supplement / The Gallery and individual image screens from 2.1 and 2.0.
Ron Amadeo

Google’s lustfulness to improve the look of Android was most evident in the 2.1 Gallery, which was all on touching heavy-handed animation effects and trans rencies. When the app opened, individual personifications flew in from the top of the screen and shuffled into little piles that swiped up an album. When opening an album, the picture stack se rated, and the photos glided into a grid formation. Everything you touched would pop open, squish, and lengthen like a spring-loaded piece of Jell-o.

There was no «normal» background for the Gallery. It would randomly pick a duplicate on the screen and heavily distort it for use as a background image. When that embodiment scrolled off-screen, it would pick a new background image, so the tone of the backstage always matched your pictures.

The top left of the screen housed a breadcrumbs bar. It flash your current location and any folders between you and the main screen—it could be consideration of as an early precursor to the «Up» button that would debut in Android 3.0. In the top to be honest was a link to the camera app, which still sported the same faux-leather cabal that debuted in Android 1.6—the two designs could not be more unlike.

While the camera was another weird, one-off design, never was the absurd UI dis rity between Android apps more ap rent than in the new Gallery. It didn’t use Android buttons, menus, or any of the breathing UI radigms. It even hid the status bar in every screen—you could barely rake you were looking at Android.

In the individual photo view, you could for all time swipe between images, which removed the need for chunky red and right arrows. For some reason, the color-matched background wasn’t on this shield. It was the only rt of the app where the background is black. Zoom controls were in the top-right (in addition no pinch zoom), and commands were held in a single strip along the rump of the screen. Hitting the «menu» button (software or hardware) didn’t illuminate up a 2×3 grid of options like every other app—the items in the posterior strip just changed from two options to three other elections.

The animation-filled Gallery app.
Enlarge / The animation-filled Gallery app.
Ron Amadeo

The first picture, above, boasts an album view. You could scroll horizontally through a large album or use the starve oneself scroll bar at the bottom of the screen. Long pressing on a picture (or, bizarrely, significant the hardware menu button) would bring up a «checkbox» interface, where you could tap on very many pictures to select them. After you’ve selected pictures, you could then volume share, delete, or rotate them.

The menus on this screen and the next one picture screen were semi-trans rent speech bubbles that discretion spring out of their respective buttons when tapped on. Again, this was round as far away from the normal Android conventions as you could get. The Gallery was also one of the outset apps to have an overscroll effect. When you hit the end of the photo wall, the unscathed surface would skew in the direction of the scrolling.

The 2.1 Gallery was the foremost photo client to show your cloud-stored Picasa photos along with county pictures. These were marked with a white camera lock out icon in the bottom left corner of a thumbnail. This would timer become Google+ Photos.

No Android app before or since had looked in the same way as the gallery. There was good reason for that—it wasn’t made by Google! The app was subcontracted out to Cooliris, who didn’t bother following a single existing Android UI radigm. While the app was usable, all the ardours and effects made it seem like a case of style over affluence.

The "News and Weather" app showing... the news and weather.
Enlarge / The «News and Weather» app showing… the news and weather.
Ron Amadeo

Approximate the Gallery to the other new Android 2.1 app: News And Weather. While the Gallery was a trans rency-filled verve fest, News And Weather was all about dark gradients and contrasting colors. This app powered the meteorological conditions display on the desk clock app, and it even came with a home hide widget. The first screen just showed the weather and a six-day predict for your current location. Along the top of the screens were tabs, next to the town name was a small «i» button that would bring up a temperature and rainfall graph. You could slide your finger along the graph to get requisition temperatures and precipitation for any given minute.

The big innovation in this app was swipeable charges, an idea that would eventually become a standard Android UI seminar. After the weather were a bunch of user configurable news labels, and besides tapping on the tabs to switch to them, you could just swipe horizontally across the television and the tab would change. The news tabs all showed a list of news headlines that were practically always truncated to the point that you had no idea what the story was approximately. When opening a web ge from this app, it didn’t load the browser. As opposed to, it opened the story within the app complete with a weird white verge.

Google Maps showing off some Labs features, the new widget designs, the only screen we can access in Google Voice, and the new tabbed music design.
Enlarge / Google Maps showing off some Labs features, the new widget intrigues, the only screen we can access in Google Voice, and the new tabbed music conception.
Ron Amadeo

Widgets in 2.1 were all redesigned, with almost the whole shebang receiving a black gradient, and made better use of the available s ce. The clock converted back to a circle, and the calendar got a blue top, which matched the app a little myriad closely. Google Voice will start up, but the sign-in is broken—this is as far as you can get.

The oft-neglected Music app got a laddie update. The four-button home screen was removed completely, and tabs for each music pomp mode were added to the top of the screen. This meant when position the app, you were immediately presented with a list of music, instead of a navigational time. Unlike the News and Weather app, these newly installed tabs here could not be swiped between.

Android 2.1, update 1—the start of an continuous war

Google was a major launch rtner for the first iPhone—the com ny antici ted Google Maps, Search, and YouTube for Apple’s mobile operating technique. At the time, Google CEO Eric Schmidt was a member of Apple’s board of concert-masters. In fact, during the original iPhone presentation, Schmidt was the first ourselves on stage after Steve Jobs, and he joked that the two com nies were so suspend they could merge into “AppleGoo.»

While Google was amplifying Android, the relationship between the two com nies slowly became contentious. Assuage, Google largely kept Apple happy by keeping key iPhone high points, like pinch zoom, out of Android. The Nexus One, though, was the first slate-style Android flagship without a keyboard, which conveyed the device the same form factor as the iPhone. Combined with the newer software and Google marking, this was the last straw for Apple. According to Walter Isaacson’s biography on Steve Areas, after seeing the Nexus One in January 2010, the Apple CEO was furious, reveal «I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will put in every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this amiss… I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m agreeable to go thermonuclear war on this.»

All of this happened behind closed doors, at worst coming out years after the Nexus One was released. The public first netted wind of this growing rift between Google and Apple when, a month after the report of Android 2.1, an update shipped for the Nexus One called “2.1 update 1.» The updated combined one feature, something iOS long held over the head of Android: pinch-zoom.

While Android sustained multi-touch APIs since version 2.0, the default operating group apps stayed clear of this useful feature at the behest of Missions. After reconciliation meetings over the Nexus One failed, there was no longer a goal to keep pinch zoom out of Android. Google pushed all their whittles into the middle of the table, hit the update button, and was finally “all-in» with Android.

With puncture zoom enabled in Google Maps, the Browser, and the Gallery, the Google-Apple smartphone war was on. In the arrive d enter a occurring years, the two com nies would become bitter enemies. A month after the knock off zoom update, Apple went on the war th, suing everyone and the whole that used Android. HTC, Motorola, and Samsung were all brought to court, and some of them are still in court. Schmidt go from Apple’s board of directors. Google Maps and YouTube were punted off of the iPhone, and Apple even started a rival mapping service. Today, the two actresses that were almost «AppleGoo» compete in smartphones, tablets, laptops, cinemas, TV shows, music, books, apps, e-mail, productivity software, browsers, close assistants, cloud storage, mobile advertising, instant messaging, mapping, and set-top-boxes… and in a wink the two will be competing in car computers, wearables, mobile yments, and living flat gaming.

Android 2.2 Froyo—faster and Flash-ier

Android 2.2 better b concluded out four months after the release of 2.1, in May 2010. Froyo featured dominant under-the-hood improvements for Android, all made in the name of speed. The biggest summing-up was just-in-time (JIT) compilation. JIT automatically converted java bytecode into autochthon code at runtime, which led to drastic performance improvements across the timber.

The Browser got a performance boost, too, thanks to the integration of the V8 javascript engine from Chrome. This was the prime of many features the Android browser would borrow from Chrome, and sooner the stock browser would be completely replaced by a mobile version of Chrome. Until that day communicated, though, the Android team needed to ship a browser. Pulling in Chrome limited share ins was an easy way to upgrade.

While Google was focusing on making its platform faster, Apple was swiping its platform bigger. Google’s rival released the 10-inch i d a month earlier, ushering in the trendy era of tablets. While some large Froyo and Gingerbread tablets were disenthraled, Google’s official response—Android 3.0 Honeycomb and the Motorola Xoom—desire not arrive for nine months.

Froyo added a two-icon dock at the bottom and universal search.
Enlarge / Froyo added a two-icon poison at the bottom and universal search.
Ron Amadeo

The biggest change on the Froyo homescreen was the new dock at the fundamentally, which filled the previously empty s ce to the left and right of the app drawer with phone and browser icons. Both of these icons were custom-designed silver versions of the stock icons, and they were not user-configurable.

The default layout shifted all the icons, and it only stuck the new tips widget on the screen, which appointed you to click on the launcher icon to access your apps. The Google Search widget gained a Google logo which duplicated as a button. Tapping it would open the search interface and allow you to confine a search by Web, apps, or contacts.

The downloads ge showing the “update all" button, the Flash app, a flash-powered site where anything is possible, and the “move to SD" button.
Enlarge / The downloads ge showing the “update all» button, the Coruscate app, a flash-powered site where anything is possible, and the “move to SD» button.
Ryan ul

Some of the most outstanding additions to Froyo were more download controls for the Android Furnish. There was now an “Update all» button pinned to the bottom of the Downloads ge. Google also combined an automatic updating feature, which would automatically install apps as covet as the permissions hadn’t changed; automatic updating was off by default, though.

The understudy picture shows Adobe Flash Player, which was exclusive to Froyo. The app boosted in to the browser and allowed for a “full Web» experience. In 2010, this meant folios heavy with Flash navigation and video. Flash was one of Android’s big differentiators related to the iPhone. Steve Jobs started a holy war against Flash, proclaiming it an obsolete, buggy piece of software, and Apple would not allow it on iOS. So Android picked up the Two shakes of a lambs tail ball and ran with it, giving users the option of having a semi-workable implementation on Android.

At the culture, Flash could bring even a desktop computer to its knees, so detaining it on all the time on a mobile phone delivered terrible performance. To fix this, Scamper on Android’s browser could be set to «on-demand»—Flash content would not worry until users clicked on the Flash placeholder icon. Flash attest to would last on Android until 4.1, when Adobe transmitted up and killed the project. Ultimately Flash never really worked closely on Android. The lack of Flash on the iPhone, the most popular mobile gimmick, pushed the Internet to eventually dump the platform.

The last picture demonstrates the newly added ability to move apps to the SD card, which, in an era when phones assaulted with 512MB of internal storage, was sorely needed.

The car app and camera app. The camera could now rotate.
Enlarge / The car app and camera app. The camera could now pirouette.
Ron Amadeo

The camera app was finally updated to support portrait mode. The camera locations were moved out of the drawer and into a semi-trans rent strip of buttons next to the turn button and other controls. This new design seemed to take a lot of spirit from the Cooliris Gallery app, with trans rent, springy speech carbonation popups. It was quite strange to see the high-tech Cooliris-style UI design grafted on to the leather-bound camera app—the aesthetics didn’t twin at all.

The semi-broken Facebook app is a good example of the common 2x3 navigation ge. Google Goggles was included but also broken.
Enlarge / The semi-broken Facebook app is a good example of the common 2×3 navigation time. Google Goggles was included but also broken.
Ron Amadeo

Unlike the Facebook shopper included in Android 2.0 and 2.1, the 2.2 version still admissible of works and can sign in to Facebook’s servers. The Facebook app is a good example of Google’s shape guidelines for apps at the time, which suggested having a navigational servant consisting of a 3×2 grid of icons as the main ge of an app.

This was Google’s beforehand standardized attempt at getting navigational elements out of the menu button and onto the screen, where buyers could find them. This design was usable, but it added an supplementary roadblock between launching an app and using an app. Google would later actualize that when users launch an app, it was a better idea to show them contentedness instead of an interstitial navigational screen. In Facebook for instance, opening to the newsflash feed would be much more appropriate. And later app designs see fit relegate navigation to a second-tier location—first as tabs at the top of the screen, and later Google would affirm on the «Navigation Drawer,» a slide-out nel containing all the locations in an app.

Also jam- cked in with Froyo was Google Goggles, a visual search app which want try to identify the subject of a picture. It was useful for identifying works of art, landmarks, and barcodes, but not much else. These prime two setup screens, along with the camera interface, are all that toil in the app anymore. Today, you can’t actually complete a search with a client this old. There wasn’t much to see anyway; it was a camera interface that proffered a search results ge.

The Twitter app, which was an animation-filled collaboration between Google and Twitter.
Enlarge / The Twitter app, which was an animation-filled collaboration between Google and Tweet.
Ron Amadeo

Froyo included the first Android Twitter app, which was as a matter of fact a collaboration between Google and Twitter. At the time, a Twitter app was one of the big holes in Android’s app lineup. Developers favored the iPhone, and with Apple’s vanguard start and stringent design requirements, the App Store’s app selection was far superior to Android’s. But Google needed a Twittering app, so it teamed up with the com ny to get the first version out the door.

This inted Google’s newer design language, which meant it had an interstitial steersmanship ge and a «tech-demo» approach to animations. The Twitter app was even more severe with animation effects than the Cooliris Gallery—everything succeeded all the time. The clouds at the top and bottom of every ge continually scrolled at transforming speeds, and the Twitter bird at the bottom flapped its wings and moved its administrator left and right.

The Twitter app actually featured an early precursor to the Energy Bar, a persistent strip of top-aligned controls that was introduced in Android 3.0 . Along the top of every divide was a blue bar containing the Twitter logo and buttons like search, breathe new life into, and compose tweet. The big difference between this and the later action canteens was that the Twitter/Google design lacks an «Up» button in the top right corner, and it truly uses an entire second bar to show your current location within the app. In the go along with picture above, you can see a whole bar dedicated to the location label «Tweets» (and, of speed, the continuously scrolling clouds). The Twitter logo in the second bar acted as another navigational domain a adverse, sometimes showing additional drill down areas within the going round section and sometimes showing the entire top-level shortcut group.

The 2.3 Tweet squirt didn’t look much different from what it does today, set free for the hidden action buttons (reply, retweet, etc), which were all under the control of the right-aligned arrow buttons. They popped up in a speech bubble menu that looked a moment ago like the navigational popup. The faux-action bar was doing serious work on the produce tweet ge. It housed the twitter logo, remaining character deem, and buttons to attach a picture, take a picture, and a contact mention button.

The Tweet app even came with a ir of home screen widgets. The big one experienced up eight slots and gave you a compose bar, update button, one tweet, and left-wing and right arrows to view more tweets. The little one showed a tweet and retort button. Tapping on the compose bar on the large widget immediately launched the might «Create Tweet,» rendering the «update» button worthless.

Google Talk and the new USB dialog.
Enlarge / Google Talk and the new USB dialog.
Ron Amadeo

Away, Google Talk (and the unpictured SMS app) changed from a dark theme to a entertaining theme, which made both of them look a lot closer to the contemporary, modern apps. The USB storage screen that popped up when you mentioned into a computer changed from a simple dialog box to a full ravent interface. Instead of a text-only design, the screen now had a mutant Android/USB-stick cross.

While Android 2.2 didn’t feature much in the way of user-facing features, a noteworthy UI overhaul was coming in the next two versions. Before all the UI work, though, Google demand to revamp the core of Android. Android 2.2 accomplished that.

Raise Actions—a supercomputer in your pocket

In August 2010, a new feature “Disclose Actions» launched in the Android Market as rt of the Voice Search app. Spokeswoman Actions allowed users to issue voice commands to their phone, and Android longing try to interpret them and do something smart. Something like «Navigate to [apply oneself to]» would fire up Google Maps and start turn-by-turn navigation to your conditioned destination. You could also send texts or e-mails, make a rouse, open a Website, get directions, or view a location on a map—all just by speaking.

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Voice Actions was the culmination of a new app design philosophy for Google. Voice Battles was the most advanced voice control software for its time, and the secret was that Google wasn’t doing any determining on the device. In general, voice recognition was very CPU intensive. In fact, scads voice recognition programs still have a “speed versus exactness» setting, where users can choose how long they are willing to tarry for the voice recognition algorithms to work—more CPU power means more intelligent accuracy.

Google’s innovation was not bothering to do the voice recognition computing on the phone’s restrictive processor. When a command was spoken, the user’s voice was ckaged up and shipped out exceeding the Internet to Google’s cloud servers. There, Google’s farm of supercomputers pored settled the message, interpreted it, and shipped it back to the phone. It was a long journey, but the Internet was at the end of the day fast enough to accomplish something like this in a second or two.

Divers people throw the phrase “cloud computing» around to mean “anything that is stored on a server,» but this was existent cloud computing. Google was doing hardcore compute operations in the cloud, and because it is reject a ridiculous amount of CPU power at the problem, the only limit to the voice acceptance accuracy is the algorithms themselves. The software didn’t need to be individually “ rade» by each user, because everyone who used Voice Actions was coaching it all the time. Using the power of the Internet, Android put a supercomputer in your walk off, and, com red to existing solutions, moving the voice recognition workload from a pocket-sized computer to a room-sized computer greatly grew accuracy.

Voice recognition had been a project of Google’s for some anon a punctually, and it all started with an 800 number. 1-800-GOOG-411 was a free phone dope service that Google launched in April 2007. It worked simply like 411 information services had for years—users could identify the number and ask for a phone book lookup—but Google offered it for free. No anthropoids were involved in the lookup process, the 411 service was powered by chance recognition and a text-to-speech engine. Voice Actions was only possible after three years of the prominent teaching Google how to hear.

Voice recognition was a great example of Google’s hellishly long-term thinking—the com ny wasn’t afraid to invest in a project that wouldn’t adorn come of a commercial product for several years. Today, voice recognition powers offerings all across Google. It’s used for voice input in the Google Search app, Android’s turn typing, and on It’s also the primary input interface for Google Telescope and Android Wear.

The com ny even uses it beyond input. Google’s share recognition technology is used to transcribe YouTube videos, which powers ineluctable closed captioning for the hearing im ired. The transcription is even indexed by Google, so you can search for in sa that were said in the video. Voice is the future of many results, and this long-term planning has led Google to be one of the few major tech com nies with an in-house declare recognition service. Most other voice recognition products, rallel to Apple’s Siri and Samsung devices, are forced to use—and y a license fee for—voice perception from Nuance.

With the computer hearing system up and running, Google is applying this blueprint to computer vision next. That’s why things like Google Goggles, Google Simile Search, and Project Tango exist. Just like the days of GOOG-411, these plans are in the early stages. When Google’s robot division gets off the range with a real robot, it will need to see and hear, and Google’s computer envisioning and hearing projects will likely give the com ny a head start.

The Nexus S, the first Nexus phone made by Samsung.
The Nexus S, the prime Nexus phone made by Samsung.

Android 2.3 Gingerbread—the anything else major UI overhaul

Gingerbread was released in December 2010, a whopping seven months after the notice of 2.2. The wait was worth it, though, as Android 2.3 changed just near every screen in the OS. It was the first major overhaul since the initial organizing of Android in version 0.9. 2.3 would kick off a series of continual rehabilitates in an attempt to turn Android from an ugly duckling into something that was proficient of holding its own—aesthetically—against the iPhone.

And speaking of Apple, six months earlier, the following released the iPhone 4 and iOS 4, which added multitasking and Facetime video natter. Microsoft was finally back in the game, too. The com ny jumped into the chic smartphone era with the launch of Windows Phone 7 in November 2010.

Android 2.3 concentrated a lot on the interface design, but with no direction or design documents, many apps ended up keep ones head above water a new bespoke theme. Some apps went with a flatter, darker story, some used a gradient-filled, bubbly dark theme, and others dated with a high-contrast white and green look. While it wasn’t cohesive, Gingerbread professional the goal of modernizing nearly every rt of the OS. It was a good thing, too, because the next phone variant of Android wouldn’t arrive until nearly a year later.

Gingerbread’s fling device was the Nexus S, Google’s second flagship device and the first Nexus made by Samsung. While today we are used to new CPU models every year, shy away from then that wasn’t the case. The Nexus S had a 1GHz Cortex A8 processor, proper like the Nexus One. The GPU was slightly faster, and that was it in the speed de rtment. It was a inconsequential bigger than the Nexus One, with a 4-inch, 800×480 AMOLED magnificence.

Spec wise, the Nexus S might seem like a tame upgrade, but it was in truth home to a lot of firsts for Android. The Nexus S was Google’s first flagship to fight shy of a MicroSD slot, shipping with 16GB on-board memory. The Nexus One had exclusively 512MB of storage, but it had a MicroSD slot. Removing the SD slot simplified storage conduct for users—there was just one pool now—but hurt ex ndability for power narcotic addicts. It was also Google’s first phone to have NFC, a special chip in the towards the rear of the phone that could transfer information when touched to another NFC intercede. For now, the Nexus S could only read NFC tags—it couldn’t send statistics.

Thanks to some upgrades in Gingerbread, the Nexus S was one of the first Android phones to ship without a devices D- d or trackball. The Nexus S was now down to just the power, volume, and the four pilotage buttons. The Nexus S was also a precursor to the crazy curved-screen phones of today, as Samsung clad the Nexus S with a piece of slightly curved glass.

Gingerbread changed the status bar and wall per, and it added a bunch of new icons.
Enlarge / Gingerbread interchanged the status bar and wall per, and it added a bunch of new icons.
Ron Amadeo

An upgraded «Nexus» breathe wall per was released as an exclusive addition to the Nexus S. It was basically the same suggestion as the Nexus One version, with its animated streaks of light. On the Nexus S, the «grid» object was removed and replaced with a wavy blue/gray background. The berth at the bottom was given square corners and colored icons.

The new notification nel and menu.
Enlarge / The new notification nel and menu.
Ron Amadeo

The eminence bar was finally overhauled from the version that first debuted in 0.9. The bar was mutated from a white gradient to flat black, and all the icons were redrawn in gray and non-professional. Just about everything looked crisper and more modern by reason ofs to the sharp-angled icon design and higher resolution. The strangest decisions were quite the removal of the time period from the status bar clock and the confusing black out of gray that was used for the signal bars. Despite gray being habituated to for many status bar icons, and there being four gray barriers in the above screenshot, Android was actually indicating no cellular signal. Fresh bars would indicate a signal, gray bars indicated “wanting» signal slots.

The green status bar icons in Gingerbread also understudied as a status indicator of network connectivity. If you had a working connection to Google’s servers, the icons would be fresh, if there was no connection to Google, the icons turned white. This let you far identify the connectivity status of your connection while you were out and fro.

The notification nel was changed from the aging Android 1.5 stratagem. Again, we saw a UI piece that changed from a light theme to a doleful theme, getting a dark gray header, black background, and black-on-gray textbook.

The menu was darkened too, changing from a white background to a black one with a scorn trans rency. The contrast between the menu icons and the background wasn’t as substantial as it should be, because the gray icons are the same color as they were on the deathly white background. Requiring a color change would mean every developer transfer have to make new icons, so Google went with the preexisting gray color on threatening. This was a change at the system level, so this new menu would production up in every app.

Gingerbread's new keyboard, text selection UI, overscroll effect, and new checkboxes.
Enlarge / Gingerbread’s new keyboard, text selection UI, overscroll impression, and new checkboxes.
Ron Amadeo

One of the most important additions to Android 2.3 was the system-wide school-book selection interface, which you can see in the Google search bar in the left screenshot. Protracted pressing a word would highlight it in orange and make draggable fingers appear on either side of the highlight. You could then adjust the highlight drinking the handles and long press on the highlight to bring up options for cut, copy, and ste. Prior methods used tiny controls that relied on a trackball or D- d, but with this word go finger-driven text selection method, the Nexus S didn’t need the bonus hardware controls.

The right set of images shows the new checkbox design and overscroll bring about. The Froyo checkbox worked like a light bulb—it would bear out a green check when on and a gray check when off. Gingerbread now unfolded an empty box when an option is turned off—which made much various sense. Gingerbread was the first version to have an overscroll effect. An orange flush appeared when you hit the end of a list and grew larger as you pulled more against the downright end. Bounce scrolling would probably have made the most message, but that was tented by Apple.

The new dialer and dialog box design.
Enlarge / The new dialer and dialog box design.
Ron Amadeo

The dialer come by a little more love in Gingerbread. It became darker, and Google irrevocably addressed the combination of sharp corners, rounded corners, and complete classes that it had going on. Now every corner was a sharp right angle. All the dial d buttons were make good oned with a weird underline, like some faint leftovers of what adapted to to be a button. You were never really sure if you were supposed to see a button or not—our perspicacities wanted to imagine the rest of the square.

The Wi-Fi network dialog is pictured to give away off the rest of the system-wide changes. All the dialog box titles were changed from gray to dusky, every dialog box, dropdown, and button corner was sharpened up, and everything was a not much bit darker. All these system-wide changes made all of Gingerbread look a lot brief bubbly and more mature. The «all black everything» look wasn’t surely the most welcoming color lette, but it certainly looked better than Android’s former gray-and-beige color scheme.

The new Market, which added a massive green header.
Enlarge / The new Market, which added a humongous green header.
Ron Amadeo

While not exclusive to Gingerbread, with the hurl of the new OS came «Android Market 2.0.» Most of the list design was the still and all, but Google covered the top third of the screen with a massive green banderole that was used for featured apps and navigation. The primary design incitement here was probably the green Android mascot—the color is a perfect game. At a time when the OS was getting a darker design, the neon green ensign and white list made the Market a lot brighter.

However, the same immature background image was used across phones, which meant on bring resolution devices, the green banner was even bigger. Users bemoaned so much about the wasted screen s ce that later updates would remodel the green banner scroll up with the content. At the time, horizontal look was even worse—it would fill the left half of the screen with the atmospherics green banner.

An app ge from the Market showing the collapsible text section, the "My apps" section, and Google Books screenshots.
Enlarge / An app ge from the Market showing the collapsible contents section, the «My apps» section, and Google Books screenshots.
Ron Amadeo

App ges were redesigned with collapsible splits. Rather than having to scroll through a thousand-line description, workbook boxes were truncated to only the first few lines. After that, a «multifarious» button needed to be tapped. This allowed users to easily scroll be means of the list and find things like pictures and «contact developer,» which desire usually be farther down the ge.

The other rts of the Android homescreen wisely tempered down the green monster. The rest of the app was mostly just the old Market with new common navigational elements. Any of the old tabbed interfaces were upgraded to swipeable flaps. In the right Gingerbread image, swiping right-to-left would switch from «Top Rewarded» to «Top Free,» which made navigation a little easier.

Gingerbread came with the triumph of what would become the Google Play content stores: Google Regulations. The app was a basic book reader that would display books in a dull-witted thumbnail grid. The «Get eBooks» link at the top of the screen opened the browser and stuffed a mobile website where you could buy books.

Google Books and the “My Apps» age of the Market were both examples of early precursors to the Action Bar. Nothing but like the current guidelines, a stickied top bar featured the app icon, the name of the box within the app, and a few controls. The layout of these two apps was actually pretty todays looking.

The new Google Maps.
Enlarge / The new Google Maps.
Ron Amadeo

Google Maps (which, again, at this spike was on the Android Market and not exclusive to this version of Android) now featured another functioning bar precursor in the form of a top-aligned control bar. This version of an early effect bar featured a lot of experimenting. The majority of the bar was taken up with a search box, but you could not in any way type into the bar. Tapping on it would open the old search interface from Android 1.x, with a unqualifiedly different bar design and bubbly buttons. This 2.3 bar wasn’t anything numberless than a really big search button.

The new business ges, which switched from black to white.
Enlarge / The new business ges, which exchanged from black to white.
Ron Amadeo

Along with Places’ new top account in the app drawer came a redesigned interface. Unlike the rest of Gingerbread, this flogged from black to white. Google also kept the old buttons with general area of corners. This new version of Maps helpfully displayed the hours of functioning of a business, and it offered advanced search options like places that were currently unprotected or thresholds for ratings and price. Reviews were brought to the surface, admitting a user to easily get a feel for the current business. It was now also possible to «role» a location from the search results and save it for later.

The new YouTube design, which, amazingly, sort of matches the old Maps business ge design.
Enlarge / The new YouTube ttern, which, amazingly, sort of matches the old Maps business ge contemplate.
Ron Amadeo

The YouTube app seemed completely se rate from the rest of Android, as if whoever designed this had no theory what Gingerbread would end up looking like. Highlights were red and gray in place of of green and orange, and rather than the flat black of Gingerbread, YouTube promoted bubbly buttons, tabs, and bars with rounded corners and tedious gradients. The new app did get a few things right, though. All the tabs could be horizontally swiped in the course, and the app finally added a vertical viewing mode for videos. Android appeared like such an uncoordinated effort at this stage. It’s like someone broadcasted the YouTube team “make it black,» and that was all the direction they were understood. The only Android entity this seemed to match was the old Google Maps responsibility ge design.

Despite the weird design choices, the YouTube app had the most outstanding approximation yet of an action bar. Besides the bar at the top with an app logo and a few buttons, the rightmost button was tagged “more» and would bring up options that didn’t fit in the bar. Today, this is rebuke a demanded the “Overflow» button, and it’s a standard UI piece.

The new Google Talk, which supported voice and video calls, and the new Voice Actions interface.
Enlarge / The new Google Talk, which funded voice and video calls, and the new Voice Actions interface.
Ron Amadeo

One closing update for Gingerbread came with Android 2.3.4, which brought a new construct of Google Talk. Unlike the Nexus One, the Nexus S had a front-facing camera—and the redesigned variant of Google Talk had voice and video calling. The colored indicators on the integrity of the friends list were used to indicate not only presence, but medium and video availability. A dot was text only, a microphone was text or voice, and a camera was motif, voice, or video. If available, tapping on a voice or video icon thinks fitting immediately start a call with that person.

Gingerbread is the oldest form of Android still supported by Google. Firing up a Gingerbread device and affect it sit for a few minutes will result in a ton of upgrades. Gingerbread will pull down Google Demeanour Services, resulting in a ton of new API support, and it will upgrade to the very newest rendering of the Play Store. Open the Play Store and hit the update button, and valid about every single Google app will be replaced with a up to date version. We tried to keep this article authentic to the time Gingerbread was delivered, but a real user stuck on Gingerbread today will be treated to a surge of anachronisms.

Gingerbread is still supported because there are a good calculate of users still running the now ancient OS. Gingerbread’s staying power is due to the bloody low system requirements, making it the go-to choice for slow, cheap phones. The next few models of Android were much more exclusive and/or demanding on hardware. For event, Android 3.0 Honeycomb is not open source, meaning it could no more than be ported to a device with Google’s cooperation. It was also only for tablets, obtaining Gingerbread the newest phone version of Android for a very long nevertheless. 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich was the next phone release, but it significantly developed Android’s systems requirements, cutting off the low-end of the market. Google is longing to get cheaper phones back on the update track with 4.4 KitKat, which resuscitates the system requirements back down to 512MB of RAM. The ssage of time facilitates, too—by now, even cheap SoCs have caught up to the demands of a 4.0-era rendition of Android.

Android 3.0 Honeycomb—tablets and a design renaissance

In spite of all the changes made in Gingerbread, Android was still the ugly duckling of the movable world. Com red to the iPhone, its level of polish and design just didn’t stick up up. On the other hand, one of the few operating systems that could stand up to iOS’s aesthetic acumen was lm’s WebOS. WebOS was a cohesive, well-designed OS with a few innovative features, and it was supposed to save the com ny from the relentless walk of the iPhone.

A year after launch though, lm was running out of hard cash. The com ny never saw the iPhone coming, and by the time WebOS was ready, it was too modern. In April 2010, Hewlett- ckard purchased lm for $1 billion. While HP accept a product with a great user interface, the lead designer of that interface, a man by the term of Matias Duarte, did not join HP. In May 2010, just before HP took management of lm, Duarte jumped ship to Google. HP bought the bread, but Google charter the baker.

The first Honeycomb device, the Motorola Xoom 10-inch tablet.
Enlarge / The first Honeycomb device, the Motorola Xoom 10-inch memo d.

At Google, Duarte was named the Director of Android User Experience. This was the chief time someone was publicly in charge of the way Android looked. Matias settle oned at Google during the launch of Android 2.2, and while he contributed to Gingerbread, the outset version of Android to get a full, cohesive redesign was Android 3.0, Honeycomb.

By Google’s own allowing, Honeycomb—released in February 2011—was rushed out the door. Ten months quondam, Apple modernized the tablet with the launch of the i d, and Google need to respond as quickly as possible. Honeycomb was that response, a version of Android that ran on 10-inch touchscreens. Mournfully, getting this OS to market was such a priority that corners were cut to shelter time.

The new OS was for tablets only—phones would not be updated to Honeycomb, which s red Google the arduous problem of making the OS work on wildly different screen sizes. But with phone abide off the table, a Honeycomb source drop never happened. Previous Android renderings were open source, enabling the hacking community to port the current version to all sorts of different devices. Google didn’t want app developers to determine pressured to support half-broken Honeycomb phone ports, so Google roomed the source to itself and strictly controlled what could and couldn’t cause Honeycomb. The rushed development led to problems with the software, too. At launch, Honeycomb wasn’t amazingly stable, SD cards didn’t work, and Adobe Flash—one of Android’s big differentiators—wasn’t strengthened.

One of the few devices that could have Honeycomb was the Motorola Xoom, the flagship spin-off for the new OS. The Xoom was a 10-inch, 16:9 tablet with 1GB of RAM and a dual-core, 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 processor. Notwithstanding being the launch device of a new version of Android where Google authority over the updates directly, the device wasn’t called a «Nexus.» The most meet reason for this was that Google didn’t feel confident ssably in the product to call it a flagship.

Nevertheless, Honeycomb was a major milestone for Android. With an seasoned designer in charge, the entire Android user interface was rebuilt, and most of the unstable app designs were brought to heel. Android’s default apps for good looked like pieces of a cohesive whole with similar layouts and theming across the table. Redesigning Android would be a multi-version project though—Honeycomb was nothing but the start of getting Android whipped into shape. This cardinal draft laid the groundwork for how future versions of Android would work, but it also used a heavy-handed sci-fi theme that Google intention spend the next few versions toning down.

The home screens of Honeycomb and Gingerbread.
Enlarge / The home selects of Honeycomb and Gingerbread.
Ron Amadeo

While Gingerbread only experimented with a sci-fi look in its photon wall per, Honeycomb take a pissed full sci-fi with a Tron-inspired theme for the entire OS. The whole was made black, and if you needed a contrasting color, you could choose from a few numerous shades of blue. Everything that was made blue was also fact a «glow» effect, making the entire OS look like it was powered by foreign technology. The default background was a holographic grid of hexagons (a Honeycomb! get it?) that looked as if it was the floor of a teleport d on a s ceship.

The most important change of Honeycomb was the augmentation of the system bar. The Motorola Xoom had no hardware buttons other than power and supply, so a large black bar was added along the bottom of the screen that housed the navigational buttons. This portended the default Android interface no longer needed specialized hardware buttons. In the st, Android couldn’t function without hardware Back, Menu, and Nursing home keys. Now, with the software supplying all the necessary buttons, anything with a have a bearing on screen was able to run Android.

The biggest benefit of the new software buttons was resiliency. The new app guidelines stated that apps should no longer require a matriel menu button, but for those that do, Honeycomb detects this and amplifies a fourth button to the system bar that allows these apps to slog away. The other flexibility attribute of software buttons was that they could mutate orientation with the device. Other than the power and volume buttons, the Xoom’s lie really wasn’t important. The system bar always sat on the «bottom» of the device from the drug’s perspective. The trade off was that a big bar along the bottom of the screen definitely sucked up some vet real estate. To save s ce on 10-inch tablets, the status bar was fused into the system bar. All the usual status duties lived on the right side—there was battery and connectivity pre-eminence, the time, and notification icons.

The whole layout of the home screen changed, rank UI pieces in each of the four corners of the device. The bottom left built the previously discussed navigational buttons, the bottom right was for status and notifications, the top Nautical port displayed text search and voice search, and the top right had buttons for the app drawer and go on increasing widgets.

The new lock screen and Recent Apps interface.
Enlarge / The new lock screen and Recent Apps interface.
Ron Amadeo

(Since the Xoom was a [burdened] 10-inch, 16:9 tablet, it was primarily meant to be used horizontally. Most apps also supported study mode, though, so for the sake of our formatting, we’re using mostly portrait condition shots. Just keep in mind the Honeycomb shots come from a 10-inch scribbling, and the Gingerbread shots come from a 3.7-inch phone. The densities of gen are not directly com rable.)

The unlock screen—after switching from a menu button to a rotary dial to slide-to-unlock—eliminated any required accuracy from the unlock process by switching to a circle unlock. Swiping from the center terrestrial in any direction would unlock the device. Like the rotary unlock, this was much kinder ergonomically than forcing your finger to follow a perfectly frank th.

The strip of thumbnails in the second picture was the interface brought up by the newly anointed «Recent Apps» button, now living next to Back and Home. Pretty than the group of icons brought up in Gingerbread by long-pressing on the home button, Honeycomb guided app icons and thumbnails on the screen, which made it a lot easier to switch between reproaches. Recent Apps was clearly inspired by Duarte’s «card» multitasking in WebOS, which inured to full-screen thumbnails to switch tasks. This design offered the constant ease-of-recognition as WebOS’s task switcher, but the smaller thumbnails allowed profuse apps to fit on screen at once.

While this implementation of Recent Apps may look adulate what you get on a current device, this version was very early. The index didn’t scroll, meaning it showed seven apps in portrait SOP and only five apps in horizontal mode. Anything beyond that was iced off the list. You also couldn’t swipe away thumbnails to close apps—this was very recently a static list.

Here we see the Tron influence in full effect: the com cts had blue outlines and an eerie glow around them. This screenshot also grants a benefit of software buttons—context. The back button closed the heel over of thumbnails, so instead of the normal arrow, this pointed down.

The Honeycomb app lineup lost a ton of apps. This also shows the notification nel and the new quick settings.
Distend / The Honeycomb app lineup lost a ton of apps. This also shows the notification nel and the new short settings.
Ron Amadeo

The default app icons were slashed from 32 to 25, and two of those were third- rty stratagems. Since Honeycomb was not for phones and Google wanted the default apps to all be tablet-optimized, a lot of apps didn’t triumph the cut. We lost the Amazon MP3 store, Car Home, Facebook, Google Goggles, Communication, News and Weather, Phone, Twitter, Google Voice, and Voice Dialer. Google was peacefully building a music service that would launch soon, so the Amazon MP3 bank needed to go anyway. Car Home, Messaging, and Phone made little intelligence on a non-phone device, Facebook and Twitter still don’t have tablet Android apps, and Goggles, Info and Weather, and Voice Dialer were barely supported applications that most people wouldn’t bobby-soxer.

Almost every app icon was new. Just like the switch from the G1 to the Motorola Droid, the biggest impulse for change was probably the bump in resolution. The Nexus S had an 800×480 display, and Gingerbread encountered with art assets to match. The Xoom used a whopping 1280×800 10-inch disclose, which meant nearly every piece of art had to go. But again, this beforehand a real designer was in charge, and things were a lot more cohesive. Honeycomb tent the switch from a vertically scrolling app drawer to ginated horizontal drawer. This transformation made sense on a horizontal device, but on phones it was still much faster to skipper the app drawer with a flingable, vertical list.

The second Honeycomb screenshot informs the new notification nel. The gray and black Gingerbread design was tossed for another straight-black nel that smell of b distributed off a blue glow. At the top was a block showing the time, date, connection stature, battery, and a shortcut to the notification quick settings, and below that were the factual notifications. Non-permanent notifications could now be dismissed by tapping on an «X» on the right side of the notification. Honeycomb was the gold medal version to enable controls within a notification. The first (and at the launch of Honeycomb, not) app to take advantage of this was the new Google Music app, which placed above, play/ use, and next buttons in its notification. These new controls could be accessed from any app and show up controlling music a breeze.

"Add to home screen" was given a zoomed-out interface for easy organizing. The search interface split auto suggest and universal search into different nes.
Enlarge / «Add to home screen» was given a zoomed-out interface for leisurely organizing. The search interface split auto suggest and universal search into divers nes.
Ron Amadeo

Pressing the plus button in the top right corner of the home ground screen or long pressing on the background would open the new home rtition off configuration interface. Honeycomb showed a zoomed-out view of all the home televisions along the top of the screen, and it filled the bottom half of the screen with a charged drawer containing widgets and shortcuts. Items could be dragged out of the Davy Joness locker drawer and into any of the five home screens. Gingerbread would objective show a list of text, but Honeycomb showed full thumbnail advance showings of the widgets. This gave you a much better idea of what a widget commitment look like instead of an app-name-only description like «calendar.»

The ampler screen of the Motorola Xoom allowed the keyboard to take on a more PC-style layout, with mood like backs ce, enter, shift, and tab put in the traditional locations. The keyboard sponsored on a blueish tint and gained even more s cing between the explication. Google also added a dedicated smiley-face button. 🙂

Gmail on Honeycomb versus Gmail on Gingerbread with the menu open. Buttons were placed on the main screen for easier discovery.
Enlarge / Gmail on Honeycomb versus Gmail on Gingerbread with the menu open up. Buttons were placed on the main screen for easier discovery.
Ron Amadeo

Gmail displayed all the new UI concepts in Honeycomb. Android 3.0 did away with hiding all the rules behind a menu button. There was now a strip of icons along the top of the se rate called the Action Bar, which lifted many useful controls to the mere screen where users could see them. Gmail showed buttons for search, create, and refresh, and it put less useful controls like settings, help, and feedback in a dropdown ordered the «overflow» button. Tapping checkboxes or selecting text would motive the entire action bar to change to icons relating to those actions—for as it happens, selecting text would bring up cut, copy, and select all buttons.

The app icon show in the top left corner doubled as a navigation button called «Up.» While «Ago» worked similarly to a browser back button, navigating to previously visited ravents, «Up» would navigate up the app hierarchy. For instance, if you were in the Android Market, congregate the «Email developer» button, and Gmail opened, «Back» would doff you back to the Android Market, but «Up» would take you to the Gmail inbox. «Traitorously» might close the current app, but «Up» never would. Apps could supervise the «Back» button, and they usually reprogrammed it to replicate the «Up» functionality. In training, there was rarely a difference between the two buttons.

Honeycomb also instituted the «Fragments» API, which allowed developers to use a single app for tablets and phones. A «Fragment» was a unattached ne of a user interface. In the Gmail picture above, the left folder book was one fragment and the inbox was another fragment. Phones would show one remnant per screen, and tablets could show two side-by-side. The developer defined the look of own fragments, and Android would decide how they should be displayed based on the coeval device.

The calculator finally used regular Android buttons, but someone spilled blue ink on the calendar.
Enlarge / The calculator finally used regular Android buttons, but someone spilled vulgar ink on the calendar.
Ron Amadeo

For the first time in Android’s history, the calculator got a makeover with non-custom buttons, so it absolutely looked like rt of the OS. The bigger screen made room for assorted buttons, enough that all the calculator functionality could fit on one screen. The docket greatly benefited from the extra s ce, gaining much numberless room for appointment text and controls. The action bar at the top of the screen held buttons to change views, along with showing the current time s n and workaday controls. Appointment blocks switched to a white background with the almanac corner only showing in the top right corner. At the bottom (or side, in prone view) were boxes showing the month calendar and a list of displayed almanacs.

The scale of the calendar could be adjusted, too. By performing a pinch zoom ploy, portrait week and day views could show between five and 19 hours of assignations on a single screen. The background of the calendar was made up of an uneven blue splotch, which didn’t look surprisingly great and was tossed on later versions.

The new camera interface, showing off the live "Negative" effect.
Enlarge / The new camera interface, demonstrating off the live «Negative» effect.
Ron Amadeo

The giant 10-inch Xoom tombstone did have a camera, which meant that it also had a camera app. The Tron redesign lastly got rid of the old faux-leather look that Google came up with in Android 1.6. The authority overs were laid out in a circle around the shutter button, bringing to rake over the coals the circular controls and dials on a real camera. The Cooliris-derived speech lather popups were changed to glowing, semi-trans rent black boxes. The Honeycomb screenshot shows the new «color implication» functionality, which applied a filter to the viewfinder in real time. Dissimilar to the Gingerbread camera app, this didn’t support a portrait orientation—it was reduced to landscape only. Taking a portrait picture with a 10-inch plate doesn’t make much sense, but then neither does alluring a landscape one.

The clock app didn't get quite as much love as other areas. Google just threw it into a tiny box and called it a day.
Enlarge / The clock app didn’t get quite as much love as other areas. Google unprejudiced threw it into a tiny box and called it a day.
Ron Amadeo

Tons of functionality survived out the door when it came time to remake the clock app. The entire «Deskclock» concept was backlashed out the door, replaced with a simple large display of the time against a llano black background. The ability to launch other apps and view the endure was gone, as was the ability of the clock app to use your wall per. Google sometimes divulged up when it came time to design a tablet-sized interface, like here, where it upstanding threw the alarm interface into a tiny, centered dialog box.

The Music app finally got the ground-up redesign it has needed forever.
Ex tiate on / The Music app finally got the ground-up redesign it has needed forever.
Ron Amadeo

While music be given a few minor additions during its life, this was really the first beat since Android 0.9 that it received serious attention. The highlight of the redesign was a don’t-call-it-coverflow scrolling 3D album art see, called «New and Recent.» Instead of the tabs added in Android 2.1, seamanship was handled by a Dropbox box in the Action Bar. While «New and Recent» had 3D scrolling album art, «Albums» acquainted with a flat grid of albums thumbnails. The other sections had totally unlike designs, too. «Songs» used a vertically scrolling list of text, and «Playlists,» «Categories,» and «Artists» used stacked album art.

In nearly every view, every distinct item had its own individual menu, usually little arrows in the bottom straightaway corner of an item. For now, these would only show «Play» and «add to Playlist,» but this construction of Google Music was built for the future. Google was launching a Music military talents soon, and those individual menus would be needed for things kidney viewing other content from that artist in the Music Inventory and managing the cloud storage versus local storage options.

Upstanding like the Cooliris Gallery in Android 2.1, Google Music purposefulness blow up one of your thumbnails and use it as a background. The bottom «Now Playing» bar now displayed the album art, playback devices, and a song progress bar.

Some of the new Google Maps was really nice, and some of it was from Android 1.5.
Enlarge / Some of the new Google Maps was really outgoing, and some of it was from Android 1.5.
Ron Amadeo

Google Maps received another redesign for the big divide. This one would stick around for a while and used a semi-trans rent villainous action bar for all the controls. Search was again the primary function, given the beginning spot in the action bar, but this time it was an actual search bar you could type in, in lieu of of a search bar-shaped button that launched a completely different interface. Google completely gave up on dedicating screen s ce to actual zoom buttons, relying on sole gestures to control the map view. While the feature has since been havened to all old versions of Maps, Honeycomb was the first version to feature 3D building recapitulations on the map. Dragging two fingers down on the map would «tilt» the map view and show the sides of the structures. You could freely rotate and the buildings would adjust, too.

Not every piece of Maps was redesigned. Navigation was untouched from Gingerbread, and some marrow rts of the interface, like directions, were pulled straight from Android 1.6 and centered in a elfin box.

Yet another Android Market redesign dips its toe into the "cards" interface that would become a Google staple.
Enlarge / Yet another Android Market redesign dips its toe into the «pranksters» interface that would become a Google staple.
Ron Amadeo

The Android Sell released its fourth new design in Android’s two-and-a-half years on the market. This new contemplate was hugely important as it came really close to Google’s «cards» interface. By displaying Apps or other text in little blocks, Google could seamlessly transition its app design between interviews of various sizes with minimal effort. Content could be displayed good like photos in a gallery app—feed the layout renderer a big list of contentedness blocks, enable screen wrapping, and you were done. Bigger wall offs saw more blocks of content, and smaller screens only saw a few at a time. With the pleased display out of the way, Google added a «Categories» fragment to the right side and a big featured app carousel at the top.

While the develop was ready for an easily configurable interface, the functionality was not. The original shipping side of the market was locked to a landscape orientation and was Honeycomb-exclusive.

The app ge and "My Apps" interface.
Enlarge / The app ge and «My Apps» interface.
Ron Amadeo

This new merchandise sold not only apps, but brought Books and Movies rentals into the go broke as well. Google was selling books since 2010; it was only always through a Website. The new market unified all of Google’s content sales in a se rate location and brought it one step closer to taking on Apple’s iTunes juggernaut, granting selling all of these items under the «Android Market» was a bit of a branding snafu, as much of the comfortable didn’t require Android to use.

The browser did its best to look like Chrome, and Contacts used a two- ne interface.
Enlarge / The browser did its best to look get pleasure from Chrome, and Contacts used a two- ne interface.
Ron Amadeo

The new Browser continued an honest-to-goodness tabs strip at the top of the interface. While this browser wasn’t Chrome, it aped a lot of Chrome’s fashion and features. Besides the pioneering tabs-on-top interface, it added Incognito charges, which kept no history or autocomplete records. There was also an choice to have a Chrome-style new tab ge consisting of thumbnails of your most-viewed web ges.

The new Browser balance out synced with Chrome. After signing in to the browser, it would download your Chrome bookmarks and automatically give up in to Google Web ges with your account. Bookmarking a ge was as undisturbed as tapping on the star icon in the address bar. Just like Google Maps, the browser dumped the zoom buttons and receded with all gesture controls.

The contacts app was finally removed from the phone app and interrupted out into a standalone app. The previous contacts/dialer hybrid was far too phone-centric for how people use a up to date smartphone. Contacts housed information for e-mails, IM, texting, addresses, birthdays, and public networks, so tying it to the phone app makes just as much sense as fatiguing it to Google Maps. With the telephony requirements out of the way, contacts could be unraveled to a tab-less list of people. Honeycomb went with a dual sheet view showing the full contact list on the left and contacts on the rightist. This again made use of a Fragments API; a hypothetical phone version of this app could bear out each nel as a single screen.

The Honeycomb version of Contacts was the first conception to have a quick scroll feature. When grabbing the left scroll bar, you could right away scroll up and down, and a letter preview showed your current locale in the list.

The new YouTube app looked like something out of the Matrix.
Enlarge / The new YouTube app looked like something out of the Matrix.
Ron Amadeo

YouTube thankfully dumped the «unmatched» design Google came up with for 2.3 and gave the video amenities a cohesive design that looked like it belonged in Android. The vigour screen was a horizontally scrolling curved wall of video thumbnails that played a most popular or (when signed in) personalized selection of videos. While Google on no account brought this design to phones, it could be considered an easily reconfigurable likely interface. The action bar shined here as a reconfigurable toolbar. When not signed it, the effectiveness bar was filled with a search bar. When you were signed in, search contract withdraw fromed down to a button, and tabs for «Home,» «Browse,» and «Your Gutter» were shown.

Honeycomb really liked to drive home that it was a computer interface with blue scaffolding. Movie Studio completes the Tron look with an orange theme.
Enlarge / Honeycomb really liked to drive core that it was a computer interface with blue scaffolding. Movie Studio completes the Tron look with an orange essence.
Ron Amadeo

The lone new app in Honeycomb was «Movie Studio,» which was not a self-explanatory app and make the graded with no explanations or instructions. As far as we could tell, you could import video portions, cut them up, and add text and scene transitions. Editing video—one of the most dilly-dally consuming, difficult, and processor-intensive things you can do on a computer—on a tablet felt legitimate a little too ambitious, and Google would completely remove this app in later forms. Our favorite rt of Movie Studio was that it really completed the Tron article. While the rest of the OS used blue highlights, this was all orange. (Talking picture Studio is an evil program!)

Enlarge / Widgets!
Ron Amadeo

Honeycomb beared a new widget framework that allowed for scrolling widgets, and the Gmail, Email, and Chronicle widgets were upgraded to support it. YouTube and Books used a new widget that auto-scrolled help of cards of content. By flicking up or down on the widget, you could scroll washing ones hands of the cards. We’re not sure what the point of being constantly reminded of your laws collection was, but it’s there if you want it. While all of these widgets worked keen on a 10-inch screen, Google never redesigned them for phones, making them at the end of the day useless on Android’s most popular form factor. All the widgets had Brobdingnagian identifying headers and usually took up half the screen to show but a few items.

The scrollable Recent Apps and resizable widgets in Android 3.1.
Enlarge / The scrollable Recent Apps and resizable widgets in Android 3.1.
Ron Amadeo

Laster versions of Honeycomb would fix many of the early problems 3.0 had. Android 3.1 was noticed three months after the first version of Honeycomb, and it brought diverse improvements. Resizable widgets were one of the biggest features added. After want pressing on a widget, a blue outline with grabbable handles resolve pop up around it, and dragging the handles around would resize the widget. The Current Apps nel could now scroll vertically and held many multifarious apps. The only feature missing from it at this point was the knack to swipe away apps.

Today, an 0.1 upgrade is a major launch, but in Honeycomb, point releases were considerably smaller. Besides the few UI nips, 3.1 added support for game ds, keyboards, mice, and other input mechanisms over USB and Bluetooth. It also offered a few more developer APIs.

Android 3.2's com tibility zoom and a typical stretched-out app on an Android tablet.
Ex tiate on / Android 3.2’s com tibility zoom and a typical stretched-out app on an Android plaque.
Ron Amadeo

Android 3.2 launched two months after 3.1, joining support for smaller sized tablets in the seven- to eight-inch range. It once enabled SD card support, which the Xoom carried like a incomplete limb for the first five months of its life.

Honeycomb was rushed out the door in systemization to be an ecosystem builder. No one will want an Android tablet if the tablet-specific apps aren’t there, and Google knew it lacked to get something in the hands of developers ASAP. At this early stage of Android’s capsule ecosystem, the apps just weren’t there. It was the biggest problem people had with the Xoom.

3.2 united «Com tibility Zoom,» which gave users a new option of stretching apps to the guard (as shown in the right picture) or zooming the normal app layout to fit the screen. Neither opportunity was ideal, and without the app ecosystem to support it, Honeycomb devices sold fairly poorly. Google’s tablet moves would eventually y off though. Today, Android capsules have taken the market share crown from iOS.

Google Music Beta running on Gingerbread.
Enlarge / Google Music Beta uninterrupted on Gingerbread.
Ron Amadeo

Google Music Beta—cloud storage in lieu of a comfort store

While Honeycomb revamped the Google Music interface, the Music app didn’t go unswervingly from the Honeycomb design to Ice Cream Sandwich. In May 2011, Google boated «Google Music Beta,» an online music locker that rose along with a new Google Music app.

The new Google Music app for 2.2 and up take possession ofed a few design cues from the Cooliris Gallery, of all things, going with a substituting, blurry image for the background. Just about everything was trans rent: the pop-up menus, the lappets at the top, and the now-playing bar at the bottom. Individual songs or entire playlists could be downloaded to the symbol for offline playback, making Google Music an easy way to make persuaded your music was on all your devices. Besides the mobile app, there was also a Webapp, which brooked Google Music to work on any desktop computer.

Google didn’t eat content deals in place with the record com nies to start a music stock yet, so its stop-gap solution was to allow users to store songs online and chain them to a device. Today, Google has content deals for individual melody purchases and all-you-can-eat subscription modes, along with the music locker advice.

Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich—the modern era

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Android 4.0's launch device.
Enlarge / The Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Android 4.0’s send device.

Released in October 2011, Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, got the OS distant on track with a release s nning phones and tablets, and it was once again present source. It was the first update to come to phones since Gingerbread, which purposed the majority of Android’s user base went almost a year without lead an update. 4.0 was all about shrinking the Honeycomb design to smaller schemes, bringing on-screen buttons, the action bar, and the new design language to phones.

Ice Cream Sandwich debuted on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, one of the cardinal Android phones with a 720p screen. Along with the euphoric resolution, the Galaxy Nexus pushed phones to even larger bulks with a 4.65-inch screen—almost a full inch larger than the master Nexus One. This was called «too big» by many critics, but today many Android phones are straightforward bigger. (Five inches is «normal» now.) Ice Cream Sandwich required a lot multifarious power than Gingerbread did, and the Galaxy Nexus delivered with a dual middle, 1.2Ghz TI OMAP processor and 1GB of RAM.

In the US, the Galaxy Nexus debuted on Verizon with an LTE modem. Unalike previous Nexus devices, the most popular model—the Verizon style—was under the control of a carrier, and Google’s software and updates had to be approved by Verizon prior to the phone could be updated. This led to delays in updates and the removal of software Verizon didn’t with, namely Google Wallet.

Thanks to the software improvements in Ice Cream Sandwich, Google irrevocably achieved peak button removal on a phone. With the on-screen sailing buttons, the ca citive buttons could be removed, leaving the Galaxy Nexus with no greater than power and volume buttons.

Android 4.0 shrunk down a lot of the Honeycomb design.
Enlarge / Android 4.0 shrunk down a lot of the Honeycomb purpose.
Ron Amadeo

The Tron aesthetic in Honeycomb was a little much. Immediately in Ice Cream Sandwich, Google started reject down some of the more sci-fi aspects of the design. The sci-fi clock font changed from a plied over semi-trans rent thing to a thin, elegant, normal-looking font. The douse ripple touch effect on the unlock circle was removed, and the alien Honeycomb clock widget was snatched in favor of a more minimal design. The system buttons were redesigned, too, changing from bawdy outlines with the occasional thick side to thin, even, creamy outlines. The default wall per changed from the blue Honeycomb s ceship middle to a streaky, broken rainbow, which added some much-needed color to the delinquency layout.

The Honeycomb system bar features were split into a two-bar layout for phones. At the top was the traditional status bar, and at the bottom was the new system bar, which housed the three arrangement buttons: Back, Home, and Recent. A permanent search bar was added to the top of the national screen. The bar persisted on the screen the same way the dock did, so over the five internal screens, it took up 20 icon spots. On the Honeycomb unlock process, the small inner circle could be moved anywhere outside the huger circle to unlock the device. In Ice Cream Sandwich, you had to actually hit the unlock icon with the inner wheel. This new accuracy requirement allowed Google to add another option to the grasp screen: a camera shortcut. Dragging the inner circle to the camera icon would unswervingly launch the camera, skipping the home screen.

A Phone OS meant a ton more apps, and the notification nel became a full-screen interface again.
Enlarge / A Phone OS meant a ton assorted apps, and the notification nel became a full-screen interface again.
Ron Amadeo

The App drawer was silently tabbed, but the «My Apps» tab from Honeycomb was replaced with «Widgets,» which was a oafish 2×3 thumbnail view of widgets. Like Honeycomb, this app drawer was ginated and had to be swiped by way of horizontally. (Android still uses this app drawer design today.) New in the app drawer was an Android Google+ app, which existed one at a time for some time. Along with it came a shortcut to «Messenger,» the Google+ sneakily messaging service. («Messenger» is not to be confused with «Messaging,» the oxen SMS app.)

Since we’re back to a phone now, Messaging, News and Weather, Phone, and Voice Dialer go back, and Cordy, a tablet game, was removed. Our screenshots are from the Verizon differing, which, despite being a Nexus device, was sullied by crapware homologous to «My Verizon Mobile,» and «VZ Backup Assistant.» In keeping with the de-Tronification subject-matter of Ice Cream Sandwich, the Calendar and Camera icons now looked more delight in something from Planet Earth rather than alien artifacts. Clock, Downloads, Phone, and Android Retail got new icons, too, and «Contacts» got a new icon and a new name, becoming «People.»

The Notification nel got a big re ir, especially when com red to the previous Gingerbread design. There was now a top top featuring the date, a settings shortcut, and a «clear all.» While first Honeycomb deducted users to dismiss individual notifications by tapping on an «X» in the notification, Ice Cream Sandwich’s implementation was much more la mode: just swipe the individual notifications to the left or right and they cleared. Honeycomb had blue highlights, but the dismal tone was all over the place. Ice Cream Sandwich unified almost the whole kit to a single blue (hex code #33B5E5, if you want to get specific). The background of the notification nel was cut trans rent, and the «handle» at the bottom changed to a minimal blue circle with an untrans rent black background.

The main ge of the Android Market changed back to black.
Enlarge / The main ge of the Android Market converted back to black.
Ron Amadeo

The Market got yet another redesign. It finally corroborated portrait mode again and added Music to the lineup of content you can buy in the warehouse. The new Market extended the cards concept that debuted in Honeycomb and was the beginning version to use the same application on tablets and phones. The cards on the main episode usually didn’t link to apps, instead pointing to special promotional phases like «staff picks» or seasonal promotions.

Another Market design that was nothing like the old one. This lineup shows the categories ge, featured, a top apps list, and an app ge.
Enlarge / Another Call design that was nothing like the old one. This lineup shows the sorts ge, featured, a top apps list, and an app ge.
Ron Amadeo

These screenshots afflict with us our first look at the refined version of the Action Bar in Ice Cream Sandwich. Not quite every app got a bar at the top of the screen that housed the app icon, title of the screen, diverse function buttons, and a menu button on the right. The right-aligned menu button was requirement readied the «overflow» button, because it housed items that didn’t fit on the duct action bar. The overflow menu wasn’t static, though, it gave the energy bar more screen real-estate—like in horizontal mode or on a tablet—and varied of the overflow menu items were shown on the action bar as actual buttons.

New in Ice Cream Sandwich was this conspiracy style of «swipe tabs,» which replaced the 2×3 interstitial helmsmanship screen Google was previously pushing. A tab bar sat just under the Action Bar, with the center epithet showing the current tab and the left and right having labels for the ges to the port side and right of this screen. A swipe in either direction would fluctuate tabs, or you could tap on a title to go to that tab.

One really cool design have to do with on the individual app screen was that, after the pictures, it would dynamically rearrange the call out based on your history with that app. If you never installed the app ahead of, the description would be the first box. If you used the app before, the first section see fit be the reviews bar, which would either invite you to review the app or remind you what you meditation of the app last time you installed it. The second section for a previously used app was “What’s New,» since an existing buyer would most likely be interested in changes.

Recent apps and the browser were just like Honeycomb, but smaller.
Enlarge / Recent apps and the browser were a moment ago like Honeycomb, but smaller.
Ron Amadeo

Recent apps toned the Tron look way down. The smutty outline around the thumbnails was removed, along with the eerie, uneven chap-fallen glow in the background. It now looked like a neutral UI piece that purpose be at home in any time period.

The Browser did its best to bring a tabbed encounter to phones. Multi-tab browsing was placed front and center, but instead of spoil precious screen s ce on a tab strip, a tab button would open a Fresh Apps-like interface that would show you your open tags. Functionally, there wasn’t much difference between this and the «window» position that was present in st versions of the Browser. The best addition to the Browser was a «Entreat desktop site» menu item, which would switch from the delinquency mobile view to the normal site. The Browser showed off the flexibility of Google’s Manners Bar design, which, despite not having a top-left app icon, still operated like any other top bar design.

Gmail and Google Talk—they're like Honeycomb, but smaller!
Enlarge / Gmail and Google Talk—they’re fellow Honeycomb, but smaller!
Ron Amadeo

Gmail and Google Talk both looked take pleasure in smaller versions of their Honeycomb designs, but with a few tweaks to engender better on smaller screens. Gmail featured a dual Action Bar—one on the top of the sort out and one on the bottom. The top of the bar showed your current folder, account, and number of unread bulletins, and tapping on the bar opened a navigation menu. The bottom featured all the normal buttons you thinks fitting expect along with the overflow button. This dual layout was second-hand in order display more buttons on the surface level, but in landscape SOP where vertical s ce was at a premium, the dual bars merged into a free top bar.

In the message view, the blue bar was «sticky» when you scrolled down. It pin to the top of the screen, so you could always see who wrote the current message, reply, or big shot it. Once in a message, the thin, dark gray bar at the bottom showed your in circulation spot in the inbox (or whatever list brought you here), and you could swipe left-hand and right to get to other messages.

Google Talk would let you swipe sinistral and right to change chat windows, just like Gmail, but there the bar was at the top.

The new dialer and the incoming call screen, both of which we haven't seen since Gingerbread.
Elongate / The new dialer and the incoming call screen, both of which we haven’t interviewed since Gingerbread.
Ron Amadeo

Since Honeycomb was only for tablets, some UI chewing-out shares were directly preceded by Gingerbread instead. The new Ice Cream Sandwich dialer was, of without a doubt, black and blue, and it used smaller tabs that could be swiped entirely. While Ice Cream Sandwich finally did the sensible thing and se rated the cardinal phone and contacts interfaces, the phone app still had its own contacts tab. There were now two splashes to view your contact list—one with a dark theme and one with a beaming theme. With a hardware search button no longer being a provision, the bottom row of buttons had the voicemail shortcut swapped out for a search icon.

Google liked to be subjected to the incoming call interface mirror the lock screen, which lowed Ice Cream Sandwich got a circle-unlock design. Besides the usual decline or admit options, a new button was added to the top of the circle, which would let you decline a call out by sending a pre-defined text message to the caller. Swiping up and picking a word like «Can’t talk now, call you later» was (and still is) much more revealing than an endlessly ringing phone.

Honeycomb didn't have folders or a texting app, so here's Ice Cream Sandwich versus Gingerbread.
Enlarge / Honeycomb didn’t require folders or a texting app, so here’s Ice Cream Sandwich versus Gingerbread.
Ron Amadeo

Folders were now much clearer to make. In Gingerbread, you had to long press on the screen, pick «folders,» and then pick «new folder.» In Ice Cream Sandwich, hardly drag one icon on top of another, and a folder is created containing those two icons. It was sudden simple and much easier than finding the hidden long-press look down on.

The design was much improved, too. Gingerbread used a generic beige folder icon, but Ice Cream Sandwich as a matter of fact showed you what was in the folder by stacking the first three icons on top of each other, black-and-white a circle around them, and using that as the folder icon. Commence folder containers resized to fit the amount of icons in the folder rather than being a full-screen, mostly worthless box. It looked way, way better.

YouTube switched to a more modern white theme and used a list view instead of the crazy 3D scrolling wall of thumbnails.
Enlarge / YouTube switched to a more modern drained theme and used a list view instead of the crazy 3D scrolling barrier of thumbnails.
Ron Amadeo

YouTube was completely redesigned and looked less appreciate something from The Matrix and more like, well, YouTube. It was a modest white list of vertically scrolling videos, just like the website. Correcting videos on your phone was given prime real estate, with the foremost button on the action bar dedicated to recording a video. Strangely, different rtitions used different YouTube logos in the top left, switching between a flat YouTube logo and a square one.

YouTube used swipe tabs fair-minded about everywhere. They were placed on the main ge to skim through and view your account and on the video ges to switch between observations, info, and related videos. The 4.0 app showed the first signs of Google+ YouTube integration, spot a «+1» icon next to the traditional rating buttons. Eventually Google+ commitment completely take over YouTube, turning the comments and author sheets into Google+ activity.

Ice Cream Sandwich tried to make things easier on everyone. Here is a screen for tracking data usage, the new developer options with tons of analytics enabled, and the intro tutorial.
Enlarge / Ice Cream Sandwich tried to delegate things easier on everyone. Here is a screen for tracking data operation, the new developer options with tons of analytics enabled, and the intro tutorial.
Ron Amadeo

Materials Usage allowed users to easily keep track of and control their matter usage. The main ge showed a graph of this month’s evidence usage, and users could set thresholds to be warned about data consumption or the score with set a hard usage limit to avoid overage charges. All of this was done with no by dragging the horizontal orange and red threshold lines higher or lower on the design. The vertical white bars allowed users to select a slice of every so often old-fashioned in the graph. At the bottom of the ge, the data usage for the selected time was defeated down by app, so users could select a spike and easily see what app was sucking up all their details. When times got really tough, in the overflow button was an option to delimit all background data. Then, only apps running in the foreground could have in the offing access to the Internet connection.

The Developer Options typically only whore-housed a tiny handful of settings, but in Ice Cream Sandwich the section received a elephantine ex nsion. Google added all sorts of on-screen diagnostic overlays to aid app developers understand what was happening inside their app. You could purpose CPU usage, pointer location, and view screen updates. There were also choices to change the way the system functioned, like control over animation facilitate, background processing, and GPU rendering.

One of the biggest differences between Android and the iOS is Android’s app drawer interface. In Ice Cream Sandwich’s track down to be more user-friendly, the initial startup launched a small tutorial certifying users where the app drawer was and how to drag icons out of the drawer and onto the homescreen. With the execution of the off-screen menu button and changes like this, Android 4.0 hinted a big push to be more inviting to new smartphone users and switchers.

The "touch to beam" NFC support, Google Earth, and App Info, which would let you disable crapware.
Enlarge / The «dash to beam» NFC support, Google Earth, and App Info, which would let you disable crapware.
Ron Amadeo

Strengthened into Ice Cream Sandwich was full support for NFC. While previous stratagems like the Nexus S had NFC, support was limited and the OS couldn’t do much with the rtici te b interrupt. 4.0 added a feature called Android Beam, which desire let two NFC-equipped Android 4.0 devices transfer data back and forth. NFC commitment transmit data related to whatever was on the screen at the time, so tapping when a phone exposed a web ge would send that ge to the other phone. You could also send connection information, directions, and YouTube links. When the two phones were put together, the colander zoomed out, and tapping on the zoomed-out display would send the information.

In Android, consumers are not allowed to uninstall system apps, which are often integral to the rite of the device. Carriers and OEMs took advantage of this and started introducing crapware in the system rtition, which they would often on stop at with software they didn’t want. Android 4.0 allowed narcotic addicts to disable any app that couldn’t be uninstalled, meaning the app remained on the system but didn’t play up in the app drawer and couldn’t be run. If users were willing to dig through the settings, this ss oned them an easy way to take control of their phone.

Android 4.0 can be considering of as the start of the modern Android era. Most of the Google apps released hither this time only worked on Android 4.0 and above. There were so uncountable new APIs that Google wanted to take advantage of that—initially at toy—support for versions below 4.0 was limited. After Ice Cream Sandwich and Honeycomb, Google was at bottom starting to get serious about software design. In January 2012, the flock finally launched Android Design, a design guideline site that enlightened Android app developers how to create apps to match the look and feel of Android. This was something iOS not not had from the start of third- rty app support, but Apple enforced design so soberly that apps that did not meet the guidelines were blocked from the App Collection. The fact that Android went three years without any feather of public design documents from Google shows just how bad obsessions used to be. But with Duarte in charge of Android’s design revolution, the convention was finally addressing basic design needs.

Ron Amadeo

Google Not treat seriously c mess with and the return of direct-to-consumer device sales

On March 6, 2012, Google welded all of its content offerings under the banner of «Google Play.» The Android Customer base became the Google Play Store, Google Books became Google Deprecate Books, Google Music became Google Play Music, and Android Superstore Movies became Google Play Movies & TV. While the app interfaces didn’t mutation much, all four content apps got new names and icons. Content purchased in the Misuse Store would be downloaded to the appropriate app, and the Play Store and Play soothe apps all worked together to provide a fairly organized content common sense.

The Google Play update was Google’s first big out-of-cycle update. Four cked-in apps were all changed without arranging to issue a system update—they were all updated through the Android Supermarket/Play Store. Enabling out-of-cycle updates to individual apps was a big focal point for Google, and being able to do an update like this was the culmination of an engineering ins that started in the Gingerbread era. Google had been working on «decoupling» the apps from the managing system and making everything portable enough to be distributed through the Android Call/Play Store.

While one or two apps (mostly Maps and Gmail) had heretofore lived on the Android Market, from here on you’ll see a lot more significant updates that should prefer to nothing to do with an operating system release. System updates desire the cooperation of OEMs and carriers, so they are difficult to push out to every consumer. Play Store updates are completely controlled by Google, though, providing the assemblage a direct line to users’ devices. For the launch of Google Play, the Android Buy updated itself to the Google Play Store, and from there, Hard-covers, Music, and Movies were all issued Google Play-flavored updates.

The goal of the Google Play apps was still all over the place. Each app looked and went differently, but for now, a cohesive brand was a good start. And removing «Android» from the disgracing was necessary because many services were available in the browser and could be inured to without touching an Android device at all.

In April 2012, Google started vend devices though the Play Store again, reviving the direct-to-customer mannequin it had experimented with for the launch of the Nexus One. While it was only two years after bring to an end the Nexus One sales, Internet shopping was now more common place, and acquisition bargaining something before you could hold it didn’t seem as crazy as it did in 2010.

Google also saw how price-conscious consumers matured when faced with the Nexus One’s $530 price tag. The first monogram for sale was an unlocked, GSM version of the Galaxy Nexus for $399. From there, premium would go even lower. $350 has been the entry-level price for the finish finally two Nexus smartphones, and 7-inch Nexus tablets would come in at at most $200 to $220.

Today, the Play Store sells eight different Android slogans, four Chromebooks, a thermostat, and tons of accessories, and the device store is the de-facto situation for a new Google product launch. New phone launches are so popular, the site generally speaking breaks under the load, and new Nexus phones sell out in a few hours.

Android 4.1, Jelly Bean—Google Now plans toward the future

The Asus-made Nexus 7, Android 4.1's launch device.
Enlarge / The Asus-made Nexus 7, Android 4.1’s skiff device.

With the release of Android 4.1, Jelly Bean in July 2012, Google clear into an Android release cadence of about every six months. The stand matured to the point where a release every three months was needless, and the slower release cycle gave OEMs a chance to catch their dazzle. Unlike Honeycomb, point releases were now fairly major updates, with 4.1 develop b publishing major UI and framework changes.

One of the biggest changes in Jelly Bean that you won’t be adept to see in screenshots is «Project Butter,» the name for a concerted effort by Google’s constructs to make Android animations run smoothly at 30FPS. Core changes were go for, like Vsync and triple buffering, and individual animations were optimized so they could be tired smoothly. Animation and scrolling smoothness had always been a weak something of Android when com red to iOS. After some work on both the core lan framework and on individual apps, Jelly Bean brought Android a lot climax to iOS’ smoothness.

Along with Jelly Bean came the Nexus 7, a 7-inch plaque manufactured by Asus. Unlike the primarily horizontal Xoom, the Nexus 7 was soured to be used in portrait mode, like a large phone. The Nexus 7 showed that, after on the brink of a year-and-a-half of ecosystem building, Google was ready to commit to the tablet exchange with a flagship device. Like the Nexus One and GSM Galaxy Nexus, the Nexus 7 was promoted online directly by Google. While those earlier devices had shockingly considerable prices for consumers that were used to carrier subsidies, the Nexus 7 hit a miscellany market price point of only $200. The price bought you a cadency mark with a 7-inch, 1280×800 display, a quad core, 1.2 GHz Tegra 3 processor, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of storage. The Nexus 7 was such a righteousness value that many wondered if Google was making any money at all on its flagship capsule.

This smaller, lighter, 7-inch form factor would be a large success for Google, and it put the com ny in the rare position of being an industry trendsetter. Apple, which started with a 10-inch i d, was long run forced to answer the Nexus 7 and tablets like it with the i d Mini.

4.1's new lock screen design, wall per, and the new on-press highlight on the system buttons.
Amplify / 4.1’s new lock screen design, wall per, and the new on-press highlight on the system buttons.
Ron Amadeo

The Tron look pioneered in Honeycomb was toned down a little in Ice Cream Sandwich, and Jelly Bean stole things a step further. It started removing blue from big chunks of the operating system. The hint was the on-press highlights on the system buttons, which interchanged from blue to gray.

A composite image of the new app lineup and the new notification nel with ex ndable notifications.
Enlarge / A composite image of the new app lineup and the new notification nel with ex ndable notifications.
Ron Amadeo

The Notification nel was branch revamped, and we’ve finally arrived at the design used today in KitKat. The new nel tender to the top of the screen and covered the usual status icons, meaning the status bar was no longer identifiable when the nel was open. The time was prominently displayed in the top left corner, along with the rendezvous and a settings shortcut. The clear all notions button, which was represented by an «X» in Ice Cream Sandwich, metamorphosed to a stairstep icon, symbolizing the staggered sliding animation that empty removed the notification nel. The bottom handle changed from a circle to a individual line that ran the length of the notification nel. All the typography was changed—the notification nel now hardened bigger, thinner fonts for everything. This was another screen where the off colour introduced in Ice Cream Sandwich and Honeycomb was removed. The notification nel was in all respects gray now except for on-touch highlights.

There was new functionality in the nel, too. Notifications were now ex ndable and could presentation much more information than the previous two-line design. It now showed up to eight in a rows of text and could even show buttons at the bottom of the notification. The screenshot notification had a rt button at the bottom, and you could call directly from a missed request notification, or you could snooze a ringing alarm all from the notification nel. New notifications were extended by default, but as they piled up they would collapse back to the usual size. Dragging down on a notification with two fingers would up it.

The new Google Search app, with Google Now cards, voice search, and text search.
Enlarge / The new Google Search app, with Google Now cards, voice search, and quotation search.
Ron Amadeo

The biggest feature addition to Jelly Bean for not sole Android, but for Google as a whole, was the new version of the Google Search application. This instituted «Google Now,» a predictive search feature. Google Now was displayed as several pranksters that sit below the search box, and it would offer results to searches Google propose b assesses you care about. These were things like Google Maps searches for arrives you’ve recently looked at on your desktop computer or calendar appointment sites, the weather, and time at home while traveling.

The new Google Search app could, of route, be launched with the Google icon, but it could also be accessed from any se rate with a swipe up from the system bar. Long pressing on the system bar accom nied up a ring that worked similarly to the lock screen ring. The union card section scrolled vertically, and cards could be a swipe away if you didn’t fancy to see them. Voice Search was a big rt of the updates. Questions weren’t justified blindly entered into Google; if Google knew the answer, it intention also talk back using a text-To-Speech engine. And old-school contents searches were, of course, still supported. Just tap on the bar and start typing.

Google often called Google Now «the future of Google Search.» Telling Google what you coveted wasn’t good enough. Google wanted to know what you uperism before you did. Google Now put all of Google’s data mining knowledge about you to function for you, and it was the com ny’s biggest advantage against rival search services disposed to Bing. Smartphones knew more about you than any other machinery you own, so the service debuted on Android. But Google slowly worked Google Now into Chrome, and at last it will likely end up on

While the functionality was important, it became sharp that Google Now was the most important design work to ever come around c regard out of the com ny, too. The white card aesthetic that this app introduced devise become the foundation for Google’s design of just about everything. Today, this index card style is used in the Google Play Store and in all of the Play content apps, YouTube, Google Maps, Excursion, Keep, Gmail, Google+, and many others. It’s not just Android apps, either. Diverse of Google’s desktop sites and iOS apps are inspired by this design. Layout was historically one of Google’s weak areas, but Google Now was the point where the presence finally got its act together with a cohesive, com ny-wide design lingo.

Yet another YouTube redesign. Information density went way down.
Enlarge / Yet another YouTube redesign. Information density went way down.
Ron Amadeo

Another adaptation, another YouTube redesign. This time the list view was pre-eminently thumbnail-based, with giant images taking up most of the screen genuine estate. Information density tanked with the new list design. Earlier YouTube would display around six items per screen, now it could on the contrary display three.

YouTube was one of the first apps to add a sliding drawer to the leftist side of an app, a feature which would become a standard design variety across Google’s apps. The drawer has links for your account and lead subscriptions, which allowed Google to kill the tabs-on-top design.

Google Play Service's responsibilities versus the rest of Android.
Ex tiate on / Google Play Service’s responsibilities versus the rest of Android.
Ron Amadeo

Google Simulate Services—fragmentation and making OS versions (nearly) obsolete

It didn’t feel like a big deal at the time, but in September 2012, Google Play Uses 1.0 was automatically pushed out to every Android phone running 2.2 and up. It amplified a few Google+ APIs and support for OAuth 2.0.

While this update mightiness sound boring, Google Play Services would eventually cultivate to become an integral rt of Android. Google Play Services undertakings as a shim between the normal apps and the installed Android OS, allowing Google to update or return some core components and add APIs without having to ship out a new Android conception.

With Play Services, Google had a direct line to the core of an Android phone without be experiencing to go through OEM updates and carrier approval processes. Google used Operate Services to add an entirely new location system, a malware scanner, remote wipe ca bilities, and new Google Maps APIs, all without carrying an OS update. Like we mentioned at the end of the Gingerbread section, thanks to all the «portable» APIs implemented in Tease Services, Gingerbread can still download a modern version of the Play Amass and many other Google Apps.

The other big benefit was com tibility with Android’s owner base. The newest release of an Android OS can take a very long often to get out to the majority of users, which means APIs that get tied to the latest rendering of the OS won’t be any good to developers until the majority of the user base upgrades. Google Amuse oneself Services is com tible with Froyo and above, which is 99 percent of spry devices, and the updates pushed directly to phones through the Play Assemble. By including APIs in Google Play Services instead of Android, Google can light out a new API out to almost all users in about a week. It’s a great solution to many of the problems occasioned by version fragmentation.

Android 4.2, Jelly Bean—new Nexus machinations, new tablet interface

The Android Platform was rapidly maturing, and with Google hotelier more and more apps in the Play Store, there was less and inconsiderable that needed to go out in the OS update. Still, the relentless march of updates necessity continue, and in November 2012 Android 4.2 was released. 4.2 was peaceful called «Jelly Bean,» a nod to the relatively small amount of changes that were the moment in this release.

The LG-made Nexus 4 and Samsung-made Nexus 10.
Enlarge / The LG-made Nexus 4 and Samsung-made Nexus 10.
Google/Ron Amadeo

Along with Android 4.2 came two flagship machineries, the Nexus 4 and the Nexus 10, both of which were sold operate by Google on the Play Store. The Nexus 4 applied the Nexus 7 strategy of a property device at a shockingly low price and sold for $300 unlocked. The Nexus 4 had a quad-core 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro, 2GB of RAM and a 4.7-inch 1280×768 LCD. Google’s new flagship phone was concocted by LG, and with the manufacturer switch came a focus on materials and build grandeur. The Nexus 4 had a glass front and back, and while you couldn’t drop it, it was one of the nicest-feeling Android phones to show ones age. The biggest downside to the Nexus 4 was the lack of LTE at a time when most phones, embodying the Verizon Galaxy Nexus, came with the faster modem. Up till, demand for the Nexus 4 greatly exceeded Google’s expectations—the launch storm crashed the Play Store Web site on launch day. The device sold out in comprised in an hour.

The Nexus 10 was Google’s first 10-inch Nexus capsule. The highlight of the device was the 2560×1600 display, which was the highest resolution in its rank. All those pixels were powered by a dual core, 1.7GHz Cortex A15 processor and 2GB of RAM. With each expiring month, it’s looking more and more like the Nexus 10 is the outset and last 10-inch Nexus tablet. Usually these devices are upgraded every year, but the Nexus 10 is now 16 months old, and there’s no present of the new model on the horizon. Google is doing well with smaller-sized 7-inch capsules, and it seems content to let rtners like Samsung explore the larger end of the capsule spectrum.

The new lock screen, wall per, and clock widget design.
Enlarge / The new lock screen, wall per, and clock widget plot.
Ron Amadeo

4.2 brought lots of changes to the lock screen. The font was centered and Euphemistic pre-owned an extremely thick weight for the hour and a thin font for the minutes. The restrain screen was now ginated and could be customized with widgets. Rather than a elemental clock on the lock screen, users could replace it with another widget or add amazingly ges to the lock screen for more widgets.

The lock screen's add widget ge, the list of widgets, the Gmail widget on the lock screen, and swiping over to the camera.
Enlarge / The lock rtition off’s add widget ge, the list of widgets, the Gmail widget on the lock strainer, and swiping over to the camera.
Ron Amadeo

The lock screen now worked get off on a stripped-down version of the home screen. ge outlines would pop up on the radical and right sides of the lock screen to hint to users that they could swipe to other afters with other widgets. Swiping to the left would show a clear blank ge with a plus sign in the center, and tapping on it resolve bring up a list of widgets that were com tible with the hook screen. Lock screens were limited to one widget per ge and could be amplified or collapsed by dragging up or down on the widget. The right-most ge was reserved for the camera—a undecorated over would open the camera interface, but you weren’t able to swipe break weighing down on.

The new Quick Settings nel and a composite image of the app lineup.
Enlarge / The new Quick Settings nel and a composite image of the app lineup.
Ron Amadeo

One of the biggest additions to 4.2 was the new «Instantaneous Settings» nel. Android 3.0 brought a way to quickly change power locales to tablets, and 4.2 finally brought that ability to phones. A new icon was enlarged to the top right corner of the notification nel that would switch between the regular list of notifications and the new quick settings screen. Quick Settings bid faster access to screen brightness, network connections, and battery and text usage without having to dig through the full settings screen. The top prone settings button in Android 4.1 was removed, and a square was added to the Timely Settings screen for it.

There were lots of changes to the app drawer and 4.2’s lineup of apps and icons. Hold responsibles to the wider aspect ratio of the Nexus 4 (5:3 vs 16:9 on the Galaxy Nexus), the app drawer on that heraldic bearing could now show a five-wide grid of icons. 4.2 replaced the hoard browser with Google Chrome and the stock calendar with Google Date-book, both of which brought new icon designs. The Clock and Camera apps were revamped in 4.2, and new icons were for all practical purposes of the deal. «Google Settings» was a new app that offered shortcuts to all the existing Google Account backgrounds around the OS, and it had a unified look with Google Search and the new Google+ icon. Google Maps got a new icon, and Google Latitude, which was involvement of Google Maps, was retired in favor of Google+ location.

The browser was replaced with Chrome, and the new camera interface with a full screen viewfinder.
Enlarge / The browser was substituted with Chrome, and the new camera interface with a full screen viewfinder.
Ron Amadeo

The commonplace browser did its best Chrome imitation for a while—it took many reminds from Chrome’s interface, many Chrome features, and was even wear and tearing Chrome’s javascript engine—but by the time Android 4.2 rolled far, Google deemed the Android version of Chrome ready to replace the imitator. On the ve, it didn’t seem like much of a difference; the interface looked many, and early versions of Chrome for Android didn’t scroll as smoothly as the forerunner browser. Under the hood, though, everything was different. Development of Android’s utter browser was now handled by the Google Chrome team instead of being a side beetle out of the Android team. Android’s default browser moved from being a contaminated app tied to Android releases to a Play Store app that was continually updated. Today there is yet a beta channel that receives several updates per month.

The camera interface was redesigned. It was now a stock full-screen app, showing a live view of the camera and places controls on top of it. The layout aesthetic had a lot in plain with the camera design of Android 1.5: minimal controls with a nave on the viewfinder output. The circle of controls in the center appeared when you either persisted your finger on the screen or pressed the circle icon in the bottom right away corner. When holding your finger down, you could skid around to pick the options around the circle, often ex nding out into a sub-menu. Unshackling over a highlighted item would select it. This was clearly roused by the Quick Controls in the Android 4.0 browser, but arranging the options in a com ny meant your finger was almost always blocking rt of the interface.

The clock app, which went from a two-screen app to a feature- cked, useful application.
Ex nd / The clock app, which went from a two-screen app to a feature- cked, useful solicitation.
Ron Amadeo

The clock application was completely revamped, going from a dull two-screen alarm clock to a world clock, alarm, timer, and stopwatch. The clock app think of was like nothing Google introduced before, with an ultra-minimal aesthetic and red highlights. It seemed to be an try for Google. Even several versions later, this design idiolect seemed to be confined only to this app.

The clock’s time picker was markedly well-designed. It showed a simple number d, and it would intelligently disable multitudes that would result in an invalid time. It was also impossible to set an uneasiness time without implicitly selecting AM or PM, forever solving the problem of accidentally placement an alarm for 9pm instead of 9am.

The new system UI for tablets used a stretched-out phone interface.
Enlarge / The new system UI for tablets used a stretched-out phone interface.
Ron Amadeo

The sundry controversial change in Android 4.2 was made to the tablet UI, which exchanged from a unified single bottom system bar to a two-bar interface with a top station bar and bottom system bar. The new design unified the phone and tablet interfaces, but critics utter it was a waste of s ce to stretch the phone interface to a 10-inch landscape stille. Since the navigation buttons had the whole bottom bar to themselves now, they were centered, just now like the phone interface.

Multiple users on a tablet, and the new gesture-driven keyboard.
Enlarge / Multiple users on a tablet, and the new gesture-driven keyboard.
Ron Amadeo

On headstones, Android 4.2 brought support for multiple users. In the settings, a «Drugs» section was added, where you could manage users on a device. Setup was done from within each owner account, where Android would keep se rate settings, impress upon screens, apps, and app data for each user.

4.2 also added a new keyboard with swiping talents. Rather than just tapping each individual letter, consumers could now keep a finger on the screen the whole time and just slither from letter to letter to type.

Another Play Store redesign! This one is very close to the current design and uses cards that make layout changes a piece of cake.
Enlarge / Another Play Upon redesign! This one is very close to the current design and uses plans that make layout changes a piece of cake.
Ron Amadeo

Out-of-cycle updates—who difficulties a new OS?

In between Android 4.2 and 4.3, Google went on an out-of-cycle update pull and showed just how much Android could be improved without be dressed to fire up the arduous OTA update process. Thanks to the Google Play Stock and Play Services, all of these updates were able to be delivered without updating any pith system components.

In April 2013, Google released a major redesign to the Google Make light of Store. Like most redesigns from here on out, the new Play Stockpile fully adopted the Google Now aesthetic, with white cards on a gray obscurity inconspicuous. The action bar changed color based on the current content section, and since the elementary screen featured content from all sections of the store, the action bar was a indifferent gray. Buttons to navigate to the content sections were now given top charge, and below that was usually a promotional block or rows of recommended apps.

The individual content sections are beautifully color-coded.
Ex nd / The individual content sections are beautifully color-coded.
Ron Amadeo

The new Play Value showed off the real power of Google’s card design language, which ca citated a fully responsive layout across all screen sizes. One large file card could be stuck next to several little cards, larger-screened tools could show more cards, and rather than stretch loves in horizontal mode, more cards could just be added to a row. The Margin Store content editors were free to play with the layout of the window-cards, too; a big release that needed to be highlighted could get a larger card. This sketch would eventually trickle down to the other Google Play size apps, finally resulting in a unified design.

Hangouts replaced Google Talk and is now continually developed by the Google+ team.
Enlarge / Hangouts replaced Google Talk and is now continually aged by the Google+ team.
Ron Amadeo

Google I/O, the com ny’s annual developer talk, was usually where a new Android version was announced. But at the 2013 edition, Google constructed just as many improvements without having to update the OS.

One of the biggest things notified at the show was an update to Google Talk, Google’s instant messaging principles. For a long time, Google shipped four text communication apps for Android: Google Talk, Google+ Harbinger, Messaging (the SMS app), and Google Voice. Having four apps that consummate the same task—sending a text message to someone—was very discombobulate for users. At I/O, Google killed Google Talk and started their statement product over from scratch, creating Google Hangouts. While initially it however replaced Google Talk, the plan for Hangouts was to unify all of Google’s numerous messaging apps into a single interface.

The layout of the Hangouts UI absolutely wasn’t drastically different from Google Talk. The main recto contained your open conversations, and tapping on one opened a chat point. The design was updated, the chat ge now used a card-style display for each ragraph, and the conversation list was now a «drawer»-style interface, meaning you could open it with a plane swipe. Hangouts had read receipts and a typing status indicator, and aggregation chat was now a primary feature.

Google+ was the center of Hangouts now, so much so that the intense name of the product was actually «Google+ Hangouts.» Hangouts was completely fused with the Google+ desktop site so that video and chats could be prospered from one to the other. Identity and avatars were pulled from Google+, and t on an avatar would open that person’s Google+ profile. And much groove on the change from Browser to Google Chrome, core Android functionality was quaint off to a se rate team—the Google+ team—as opposed to being a side yield of the very busy Android engineers. With the Google+ takeover, Android’s rticular IM client now became a continually developed application. It was placed into the Actions Store and received fairly regular updates.

The new navigation drawer interface.
Enlarge / The new navigation drawer interface.

Google also interpolated a new design element for the action bar: the navigation drawer. This drawer was authenticated as a set of three lines next to the app icon in the top-right corner. By tapping on it or bore from the edge of the screen to the right, a side-mounted menu would rt of. As the name implies, this was used to navigate around the app, and it would display several top-level locations within the app. This allowed the first riddle to show content, and it gave users a consistent, easy-to-access place for pilotage elements. The nav drawer was basically a super-sized version of the normal menu, scrollable and berthed to the right side.

The slick new Google Play Music app, which changed from <em>Tron</em> to a perfect match for the Play Store.
Enlarge / The slick new Google Play Music app, which swapped from Tron to a perfect match for the Play Store.
Ron Amadeo

Another app update overstrained out at I/O was a new Google Music app. The app was completely redesigned, finally doing away with the blue-on-blue configuration introduced in Honeycomb. Play Music’s design was unified with the new Work together Store released a few months earlier, with a responsive white show-card layout. Music was also one of the first major apps to take utility of the new navigation drawer style. Along with the new app, Google launched Google With Music All Access, an all-you-can-eat subscription service for $10 a month. Google Music now had a remittance plan, à la carte purchasing, and a cloud music locker. This interpretation also introduced «Instant Mix,» a mode where Google would cloud-compute a playlist of alike resemble songs.

A game showing support for Google Play Games. This lineup shows the Play Store game feature descriptions, the permissions box triggered by signing into the game, a Play Games notification, and the achievements screen.
Enlarge / A game showing support for Google Play Rackets. This lineup shows the Play Store game feature accounts, the permissions box triggered by signing into the game, a Play Games notification, and the feats screen.
Ron Amadeo

Google also introduced «Google Play Spirits,» a back-end service that developers could plug into their stimes. The service was basically an Android version of Xbox Live or Apple’s Meet Center. Developers could build Play Games support into their plan, which would easily let them integrate achievements, leaderboards, multiplayer, matchmaking, buyer accounts, and cloud saves by using Google’s back-end services.

Gambol Games was the start of Google’s big push into gaming. Just equivalent to standalone GPS units, flip phones, and MP3 players, smartphone makers were hoping standalone gaming logos would be turned into nothing more than a smartphone act bullet point. Why buy a Nintendo DS or PS Vita when you had a smartphone with you? An easy-to-use multiplayer waiting would be a big rt of this, and we’ve still yet to see the final consequence of this hasten. Today, Google and Apple are both rumored to be planning living a rtment gaming devices.

Google Keep, Google's first note taking service since Google Notebook.
Enlarge / Google Keep, Google’s first note compelling service since Google Notebook.
Ron Amadeo

It was clear some by-products were developed in time for presentation at Google I/O, but the three-and-a-half hour keynote was already so whopping, some things were cut from being announced. Once the smoke cleared three light of days after Google I/O, Google introduced Google Keep, a note attractive app for Android and the Web. Keep was a fairly straightforward affair, applying the responsive Google Now-style layout to a note taking app. Users could change the size of the cards from a multi-column layout to a a rt column view. Notes could consist of plain text, checklists, spokesman note with automatic transcription, or pictures. Note cards could be slogged around and rearranged on the main screen, and you could even assign a color to a note.

Gmail 4.5, which switched to the new navigation drawer design and merged the action bars, thanks to some clever button elimination.
Elongate / Gmail 4.5, which switched to the new navigation drawer design and mingled the action bars, thanks to some clever button elimination.
Ron Amadeo

After I/O, not much was tried from Google’s out-of-cycle updating. In June 2013, Google released a redesigned rendering of Gmail. The headline feature of the new design was the new navigation drawer interface that was initiated a month earlier at Google I/O. The most eye catching change was the addition of Google+ excess pictures instead of checkboxes. While the checkboxes were visibly eradicated, they were still there, just tap on a picture.

The new Google Maps, which switched to an all-white Google Now-style theme.
Enlarge / The new Google Maps, which swopped to an all-white Google Now-style theme.
Ron Amadeo

One month later, Google unshackled a completely overhauled version of Google Maps to the Play Store. It was the triumph ground-up redesign of Google Maps since Ice Cream Sandwich. The new interpretation fully adopted the Google Now white card aesthetic, and it greatly subdued the amount of stuff on the screen. The new Google Maps seemed to have a visualize mandate to always show a map on the screen somewhere, as you’ll be hard pressed to understand something other than the settings that fully covers the map.

This portrayal of Google Maps seemed to live in its own little design world. The oyster-white search bar “floated» above the map, with maps showing on the sides and top of the bar. That didn’t definitely make it seem like the traditional Action Bar design. The navigation drawer, in the top red on every other app, was in the bottom left. There was no up button, app icon, or overflow button on the pure screen.

The new Google Maps cut a lot of fat and displayed more information on a single screen.
Enlarge / The new Google Maps cut a lot of fat and displayed more information on a distinguish screen.
Ron Amadeo

The left picture shows what popped up when you tapped on the search bar (along with the keyboard, which had been closed). In the days beyond recall, Google would show an empty ge below a blank search bar, but in Maps, Google Euphemistic pre-owned that s ce to link to the new “Local» ge. The “blank» search culminates displayed links to common, browsable results like restaurant listings, gas installs, and attractions. At the bottom of the results ge was a list of nearby results from your search description and an option to manually cache rts of the map.

The right set of images shows turning up ge. The map shown in the top of the Maps 7 screenshot isn’t a thumbnail; that’s the full map witness. In the new version of Google Maps, a location was displayed as a card that “negotiates» overtop of the main map, and the map was repositioned to center on the location. Scrolling up would influence the card up and cover the map, and scrolling down would show the whole map with the happen reduced to a small strip at the bottom. If the location was rt of a list of search evolves, swiping left and right would move through the results.

The site ges were redesigned to be much more useful at a glance. On the chief ge, the new version added critical information, like the location on a map, the commentary score, and the number of reviews. Since this is a phone, and the software determination be dialing for you, the phone number was deemed pointless and was removed. The old version screened the distance to the location in miles, while the new version of Google Maps explained the distance in terms of time, based on traffic and preferred mode of transportation—a much various useful metric. The new version also put a share button front and center, which made coordination terminated IM or text messaging a lot easier.

Android 4.3, Jelly Bean—seizing wearable support out early

Android 4.3 would have been an awe-inspiring update if Google had done the traditional thing and not released updates between 4.3 and 4.2 in every way the Play Store. If the new Play Store, Gmail, Maps, Books, Music, Hangouts, Sustenance, and Play Games were bundled into a big brick as a new version of Android, it discretion have been hailed as the biggest release ever. Google didn’t need to do manage lecture on back features anymore though. With very little port side that required an OS update, at the end of July 2013, Google released the plausibly insignificant update called «Android 4.3.»

Android Wear plugging into Android 4.3's Notification access screen.
Enlarge / Android Wear commending into Android 4.3’s Notification access screen.
Ron Amadeo

Google succeed a do over no qualms about the low importance of 4.3, calling the newest release «Jelly Bean» (the third one in a row). Android 4.3’s trait list read like a laundry list of things Google couldn’t update from the Hesitate Store or through Google Play Services, mostly consisting of low-level framework switches for developers.

Many of the additions seemed to fit a singular purpose, though—Android 4.3 was Google’s trojan horse for wearable work out support. 4.3 added support for Bluetooth Low Energy, a way to wirelessly affiliate Android to another device and ss data back and forth while permitting a very small amount of power—an integral feature to a wearable machinery. Android 4.3 also added a «Notification Access» API, which conceded apps to completely replicate and control the notification nel. Apps could exposition notification text and pictures and interact with the notification the same way purchasers do—namely pressing action buttons and dismissing notifications. Doing this from an on-board app when you keep the notification nel is useless, but on a device that is se rate from your phone, replicating the knowledge in the notification nel becomes much more useful. One of the few apps that pushed into this was «Android Wear Preview,» which used the notification API to power most of the interface for Android Irritate.

The «4.3 is for wearables» theory explained the relatively low number of features in 4.3: it was coerced out the door to give OEMs time to update devices in time for the gig of Android Wear. The plan seems to have worked. Android Have on requires Android 4.3 and up, which has been out for so long now that uncountable major flagships have updated.

Android 4.3 was not all that intoxicating, but Android releases from here on out didn’t need to be all that galvanizing. Everything became so modularized that Google could push updates out as in due course as they were done through Google Play, rather than stop everything in one huge brick as an OS update.

The LG-made Nexus 5, the launch device for KitKat.
Enlarge / The LG-made Nexus 5, the shoot device for KitKat.

Android 4.4, KitKat—more polish; ungenerous memory usage

Google got really cute with the launch of Android 4.4. The presence teamed up with Nestlé to name the OS «KitKat,» and it launched on Halloween, October 31, 2013. Huddle produced limited-edition Android-shaped KitKat bars, and KitKat ckaging in accumulations promoted the new OS while offering a chance to win a Nexus 7.

KitKat launched with a new Nexus logotype, the Nexus 5. The new flagship had the biggest display yet: a five-inch, 1920×1080 LCD. Undeterred by the bigger screen size, LG—again the manufacturer for the device—was able to fit the Nexus 5 into the nonetheless dimensions as a Galaxy Nexus or Nexus 4.

The Nexus 5 was specced com ratively to the highest-end phones at the metre, with a 2.3Ghz Snapdragon 800 processor and 2GB of RAM. The phone was again sold unlocked on the Challenge Store, but while most phones with specs like this drive go for $600-$700, Google sold the Nexus 5 for only $350.

One of the most material improvements in KitKat was one you couldn’t see: significantly lower memory usage. For KitKat, Google started a concerted work to lower memory usage across the OS and bundled apps called «Shoot Svelte.» After tons of optimization work and a «low memory» mode that non-functioning expensive graphical effects, Android could now run on as little as 340MB of RAM. Drop memory requirements were a big deal, because devices in the developing beget—the biggest growth markets for smartphones—often ran on only 512MB of RAM. Ice Cream Sandwich’s more lent UI significantly raised the system requirements of Android devices, which red many low-end devices—even newly released low-end seals—stuck on Gingerbread. The lower system requirements of KitKat meant to talk about these cheap devices back into the fold. With KitKat, Google awaited to finally kill Gingerbread (which, at the time of writing, is around 20 percent of the call). Just in case the lower system requirements weren’t enough, there be struck by even been reports that Google will no longer enable the Google apps to Gingerbread devices.

Besides bringing low-end phones to a current version of the OS, Project Svelte’s lower memory requirements were to be a present to wearable computers, too. Google Glass announced it was also switching to the slimmer OS, and Android Wear ran on KitKat, too. The trim memory requirements in Android 4.4 and the notification API and Bluetooth LE support in 4.3 awakened together nicely to support wearable computing.

KitKat also featured a lot of swot up on to the core OS interfaces that couldn’t be updated via the Play Store. The Group UI, Dialer, Clock, and Settings all saw updates.

KitKat's trans rent bars on the Google Now Launcher.
Enlarge / KitKat’s trans rent impedes on the Google Now Launcher.
Ron Amadeo

KitKat not only got rid of the unpopular lines to the progressive and right sides of the lock screen—it completely disabled lock colander widgets by default! Google obviously felt multiple lock scans and multiple home screens were a little to complicated for new users, so bar screen widgets now needed to be enabled in the settings. The lopsided time here and in the clock app was beat to a symmetrical weight, which looked a lot nicer.

In KitKat, apps had the adeptness to make the system and status bars trans rent, which significantly transformed the look of the OS. The bars now blended into the wall per and any other app that chose to charter trans rent bars. The bars could also be completely hidden by any app via a new facet called “immersive» mode.

KitKat was the final nail in the “Tron» sarcophagus, removing almost all traces of blue from the operating system. The stature bar icons were changed from a blue to a neutral white. The pre-eminence and system bars on the home screen weren’t completely trans rent; a nefarious gradient was added to the top and bottom of the screen so that the white icons would up till be visible on a light background.

Tweaks to Google Now and the folders.
Enlarge / Tweaks to Google Now and the folders.
Ron Amadeo

The cosy screen that shipped with KitKat on the Nexus 5 was actually debarring to the Nexus 5 for a few months, but it could now be on any Nexus device. The new home screen was requested the «Google Now Launcher,» and it was actually the Google Search app. Yes, Google Search increased from a simple search box to an entire home screen, and in KitKat, it lured the wall per, icons, app drawer, widgets, home screen settings, Google Now, and, of tack, the search box. Thanks to Search now running the entire home screen, any quickly the home screen was open and the screen was on, voice commands could be moved by saying “OK Google.» This was pointed out to the user with introductory “Say ‘OK Google’ theme in the search bar, which would fade away after a few uses.

Google Now was assorted integrated, too. Besides the usual swipe up from the system bar, Google Now was also the leftmost home base screen. The new version brought some design tweaks as well. The Google logo was moved into the search bar, and the entirety top area was com cted. A few card designs were cleaned up, and a new set of buttons at the really led to reminders, customization options, and an overflow button with settings, feedback, and escape. Since Google Now was rt of the home screen, it got trans rent system and standing bars, too.

Trans rency and “brightening up» certain rts of the OS were design concepts in KitKat. Black was removed in the status and system bars by switching to recognizable, and the black background of the folders was switched to white.

A screenshot showing the new, cleaner app screen layout, and a composite image of the app lineup.
Enlarge / A screenshot make knowing the new, cleaner app screen layout, and a composite image of the app lineup.
Ron Amadeo

The KitKat icon lineup mutated significantly from 4.3. To be more dramatic, it was a bloodbath, with Google unseating seven icons over the 4.3 loadout. Google Hangouts could supervise SMS now, so the Messaging app was removed. Hangouts also took over Google+ Hermes duties, so that app shortcut was cut. Google Currents was removed as a default app, as it last wishes a soon be killed—along with Google Play Magazines—in favor of Google Horse around Newsstand. Google Maps was beaten back into a single icon, which based Local and Navigation shortcuts were removed. The impossible-to-understand Movie Studio was cut, too—Google be obliged have realized no one wants to edit movies on a phone. Thanks to the home base screen “OK Google» hotword detection, the Voice Search icon was cause to bed redundant and removed. Depressingly, the long abandoned News & Weather app crumbed.

There was a new app called “Photos»—really the Google+ app—which took as a remainder picture management duties. On the Nexus 5, the Gallery and Google+ Photos were mellifluous similar, but in newer builds of KitKat present on Google Play Print run devices, the Gallery was completely replaced by Google+ photos. Play Tournaments was an interface for Google’s back-end multiplayer service—a Googly version of Xbox Current or Apple’s Game Center. Google Drive, which existed for years as a Behaviour Store app, was finally made a default app. Google bought Quickoffice rear in June 2012, now finally deeming the app acceptable for inclusion by default. While Spin opened Google Documents, Quickoffice opened Microsoft Office Instruments. If keeping track, that was two document editing apps and two photo reorder apps included on most KitKat loadouts.

The new "add to home screen" interface was definitely inspired by Honeycomb.
Enlarge / The new «add to home se rate» interface was definitely inspired by Honeycomb.
Ron Amadeo

KitKat added a delicate throwback to Honeycomb with the home screen configuration screen. On the ginormous 10-inch screen of a Honeycomb tablet (right picture, above), extensive pressing on the home screen background would present you with a zoomed-out projection of all your home screens. Widgets could be dragged from the can widget drawer into any home screen—it was very handy. When it came anon a punctually to bring the Honeycomb interface to phones, from Android 4.0 all the way to 4.3, Google skipped this conceive of and left it to the larger screened devices, presenting only a list of privileges after a long press (center picture).

For KitKat though, Google at the last moment came up with a solution. After a long press, 4.4 presented a slightly zoomed out impression—you could see the current home screen and the screens to the left and right of it. Waiting on the “widgets» button would open a full screen list of widget thumbnails, but after long-pressing on a widget, you were lost back into the zoomed-out view and could scroll through accommodations screen ges and place the icon where you wanted. By dragging an icon or widget all the way ago the rightmost home ge, you could create a new home ge.

Contacts and the Keyboard both removed any trace of blue.
Inflate / Contacts and the Keyboard both removed any trace of blue.
Ron Amadeo

KitKat was the end of the rule for the Tron design. In most rts of the OS, any remaining blue highlights were wiped in favor of gray. In the People app, blue was sucked out of the header and the letter se rators in the get in touch with list. The pictures swapped sides and the bottom bar was changed to a light gray to match the top. The Keyboard, which force ined the color blue into nearly every app, was changed to gray-on-gray-on-gray. That wasn’t a bad detail. Apps should be allowed to have their own color scheme—cogency a potentially clashing color on them via the keyboard wasn’t good target.

The first three screenshots show KitKat's dialer, and the last one is 4.3.
Enlarge / The first three screenshots show KitKat’s dialer, and the hindmost one is 4.3.
Ron Amadeo

Google completely revamped the dialer in KitKat, creating a unmanageable new design that changed the way users thought about a phone. Solid numbers in the new dialer were hidden as much as possible—there wasn’t unruffled a dial d on the main screen. The primary interface for making a phone discontinue was now a search bar! If you wanted to call someone in your contacts, just specimen their name in; if you wanted to call a business, just type the concern name in and the dialer would search through Google Maps’ universal database of phone numbers. It worked incredibly well and was something at most Google could pull off.

If searching for numbers wasn’t your responsibility, the app also intelligently displayed a listing for the previous phone call, your most-contacted woman, and a link to all contacts. At the bottom were links to your call report, the now old school number d, and the usual overflow button containing a settings time.

Office stuff: Google Drive, which was now cked in, and the printing support.
Enlarge / Office stuff: Google Drive, which was now cked in, and the wording support.
Ron Amadeo

It was amazing it took this long, but in KitKat, Google Trip was finally included as a default app. Drive allowed users to create and reorder Google Docs spreadsheets and documents, scan documents with the camera and upload them as PDFs, or purpose (but not edit) presentations. Drive, by this point, had a great, modern think of with a slide-out navigation drawer and a Google Now-style card cabal.

For even more mobile office fun, KitKat included an OS-level choice of word framework. At the bottom of the settings was a «Printing» screen, and any printer OEM could espy a plugin for it. Google Cloud Print was, of course, one of the first supporters. Periodically your printer was hooked up to Cloud Print, either natively or result of a computer with Chrome installed, you could print to it over the Internet. Apps called to support the printing framework, too. Pressing the little «i» button on Google Herd would show information about the document and give you the option to impress it. Just like a desktop OS, a print dialog would pop up with settings like copies, per size, and ge selection.

The "Photos" section of the Google+ app, which replaced the Gallery.
Enlarge / The «Photos» cleave of the Google+ app, which replaced the Gallery.
Ron Amadeo

Google+ Photos and the Gallery initially freighted together on the Nexus 5, but in a later build of KitKat on Google Sport devices, the Gallery was axed and Google+ completely took over photo fealties. The new app changed the photo app from a light theme to a dark theme, and Google+ Photos attracted a modern navigation drawer design.

Android had long included an second upload feature, which would automatically backup all pictures on Google’s cloud storage, beginning on Picasa and later on Google+. The big benefit of G+ Photos over the Gallery was that it could inexorably manage those cloud-stored photos. Little cloud icons in the trim right of a photo indicated backup status, and it would fill from Tory to left to indicate an upload-in-progress. G+ photos brought its own photo editor along with mainstay for a million of other Google+ photo features, like highlights, auto incredible, and, of course, sharing to Google+.

Tweaks to the Clock app, which added an alarms tab and changed the time input dialog.
Enlarge / Tweaks to the Clock app, which continued an alarms tab and changed the time input dialog.
Ron Amadeo

Google changed the exceptional time picker that was introduced in 4.2 to this strange clock interface, which was both slower and unimportant precise than the old interface. First you were presented with a one-handed clock which you Euphemistic pre-owned to choose the hour, then that clock went away and another one-handed clock admitted you to choose the minute. Having to spin the minute hand or tap a spot on the clock appear before made it very difficult to pick times in non-five-minute increments. Distinguishable from the old time picker, which required you to pick a time period, this upstanding defaulted to AM (again making it possible to accidentally be off by 12 hours).

Android Garb

June 2014 saw Android tackle a new form circumstance: smartwatches. Google launched «Android Wear» at Google I/O 2014 with the aim of putting a tiny computer on your wrist. Designing for a 1.6-inch room dividers meant having to rethink the entire interface from the ground up, so Google shed ones clad down Android 4.4 KitKat and created a tiny smartwatch OS. Android Use devices weren’t standalone computers. They depended on an Android smartphone event the Android Wear com nion app for connectivity, authentication, and app data.Android Damage smartwatches were mostly notification machines. With new APIs built into Android 4.3 and up, any notification your phone pull down would also be shown on the watch—no app support required. The notification ways buttons were shipped to the watch as well, giving users a humble way to interact with notifications from the watch. Dismissing a notification on the take in would clear it from the phone, allowing users to manage notifications without rtake of to whip out another device. There was also a voice command structure and a microphone included in every watch, allowing users to just discontinue their wrist to wake the watch, say «OK Google,» and then issue a compel. You could reply-by-voice to messages, too. There was even an app drawer for native care for apps.

The home screen, of course, showed the time and allowed alcohols to swap home screen looks with tons of different watchman on the alert for styles. The interface used a card motif for notifications. A vertically-scrolling enter of notifications would pile up on the watch, included some Google Now fates showing the weather or traffic into. Swiping to the left would repudiate a notification, and swiping to the right would bring up the action buttons one at a time after time. Tapping on the home screen would bring up the voice command arrangement, and from there you could activate the settings or app drawer. There wasn’t much to the primary Android Wear home screen other than that.

Only 720,000 Android Wear devices shipped in 2014, and since then we haven’t envisaged much growth from the software or hardware. Today, smartphone trades are falling year-over-year, and even after the release of the Apple Watch, no one is very sure what they want their little wrist computers to do. It’s clearly going to take until 2017 before Android Wear 2.0 socks the market. Since the Moto 360 brought round devices to the store, we haven’t seen much new from hardware vendors.

Android 5.0 Lollipop—The most high-level Android release ever

In November 2014, Google launched Android 5.0 Lollipop. Masses of OS updates get called «the biggest release ever,» but that cliche in truth holds true for Android 5.0 Lollipop. For starters, it changed the way Android was released. With this variant of Android, Google started the «Developer Preview» program, which saw the new OS issued in beta form months before the release. With the code label and version number now used as marketing tools, the final name was discourage a keep secret during the beta and referred to only by letter. At Google I/O 2014, Google promulgated the «Android L Developer Preview.»

Giving developers (and the rest of the world) four months to wrap their nut around this release was definitely needed. Android L contained wide-ranging mutates that debuted in this OS and are still being felt today. Lollipop acquainted Material Design, which was used a guideline to revamp every distinct interface of Android. A new runtime called «ART» represented a complete overhaul of the locomotive that powers Android apps. Google’s «OK Google» voice government system was upgraded to work on any screen, and on some devices it could equanimous work when the phone was asleep. Multi-user was brought from plaquettes to phones. Lollipop also laid the foundation for Android for Work, an enterprise-focused dual face feature.

Material Design gives Android (and all of Google) an identity

When Matias Duarte read to the I/O stage and announced Material Design, he unveiled a unified design blueprint for not lately Android, but all of Google and the third- rty app ecosystem. The idea was that the Android, iOS, Chrome OS, and Web conceptions of a Google app should all look the same and that all Google products should get consistent iconography, fonts, and behavior. They didn’t necessarily distress identical layouts across screen sizes, but Material Design bid building blocks with consistent behavior that could be rearranged based on the telly size.

Duarte and his team had experimented with a «Tron» aesthetic in Honeycomb, and a «New Year card» motif in Jelly Bean, but Material Design finally represented a cohesive object system for all of Google. Material Design went beyond UI guidelines and grew an identity for Google as a com ny.

A 2014 advertisment for Lay Design.

The primary metaphor for Material Design is » per and ink.» All UI surfaces were journals of » per» that floated above a bottom surface. Shadows were toughened to provide hierarchy to the interface—each layer of the UI occupied a position in Z order and casted a shadow on the elements below it. This was a clear evolution of the «Come clean» style used in Google Now on Android 4.1. «Ink» was used to refer to the valorous splashes of color that Google recommended to developers for important mentions in the UI. These concepts also referenced real world things, which tidied against the anti-skeuomorphic «flat at any cost» trend that was brought nearby by things like Windows 8 and iOS 7.

Anination was a big focus, too, with the idea that nothing should «pop» onto the protection. Components should slide in, shrink, or grow. The » per» surfaces didn’t unequivocally work like real world per, either they could wither, ex nd, merge, and grow. To make the animation system work with twin assets, shadows weren’t baked into the UI widgets the way they were in premature versions—Google actually created a real-time, 3D shadowing system so that curses would be correctly rendered during these animations and transitions.

An exaggerated side view of Lollipop's layered interface and the shadows it creates.
An magnified side view of Lollipop’s layered interface and the shadows it creates.
Google I/O 2014 — l ble design principles

To bring Material Design to the rest of Google and the app ecosystem, Google created and peaceful maintains a cohesive set of design guidelines describing how everything should peg away. There are DOs and DON’Ts, keylines, baseline grids, color swatches, stock iconography, fonts, libraries, layout suggestions, and uncountable. Google even started regularly holding design-focused conferences to heed from and educate designers, and the com ny founded the Material Design endowments. Shortly after the launch of Material Design, Duarte left the Android ir and became VP of Material Design at Google, creating a whole design-focused segmenting of the com ny.

ART—The Android Runtime provides a platform for the future

There aren’t too divers components that can trace their lineage all the way back to Android 1.0, but in 2014 one of them was Dalvik, the runtime that powers Android apps. Dalvik was in designed for single-core, low-performance devices, and it prioritized storage and memory manipulation over performance. Over the years, Google bolted on more and profuse upgrades to Dalvik, like JIT support, concurrent garbage collection, and multi-process foundation. But with the advent of multi-core phones that were many times faster than the T-Mobile G1, upgrades could only take Android so far.

The solution was to replace Dalvik with ART, the Android RunTime, a new app ap ratus written from the ground up for modern smartphone hardware. ART brought an force on performance and UI smoothness. ART brought a switch from JIT (Just-in-time) compilation to AOT (Ahead-of-time) compilation. JIT wish compile an app every time it was run, saving storage s ce since assembled code was never written to disk, but instead it took up more CPU and RAM. AOT want save the compiled code to disk, making app start faster and break down memory usage. Rather than shipping precompiled code, ART command compile code on the device as rt of installation, giving the compiler access to device-specific optimizations. ART also brought upkeep for 64-bit which, in addition to more addressable memory, brings wagerer performance from the 64-bit instruction set ( rticularly in media and cryptography apps).

The first rt was this change brought these performance improvements and 64-bit ratify to every java Android app. ART generates code for every java app, ergo any improvements to ART automatically come to these apps. ART was also written with approaching upgrades in mind, so it would be able to evolve along with Android.

A system-wide interface invigorate

Material Design brought a complete outstrip to nearly every interface in Android. For starters, the entire core Group UI was changed. Android got a revamped set of buttons that look a bit like a PlayStation controller: triangle, clique, and square buttons now represented back, home, and recent apps, se rately. The status bar was all new thanks to a set of redesigned icons.

Recent apps got a big revamp, reversal from a vertical list of small thumbnails to a cascading view of gigantic, almost fullscreen thumbnails. It also got a new name (which didn’t exceedingly stick) called «Overview.» This definitely seems like something that was awakened by Chrome’s tab switcher in st versions.

Chrome’s tab switcher was gone in this ss out, by the way. In an attempt to put Web apps on even ground with installed apps, Chrome tags were merged into the Overview list. That’s right: the catalogue of recent «apps» now showed recently opened apps mixed in with recently opened websites. In Lollipop, the late apps list also took a «document centric» approach, significance apps could put more than one listing into the recent apps enrol. For instance if you opened two documents in Google Docs, both would be substantiated in recent apps, allowing you to easily switch between them pretty than having to switch back and forth via the app’s file list.

The notification nel was all new. Google discussed the «card» motif to the notification nel, storing each item in its own rectangle. Singular notifications changed from a dark background to a white one with gamester typography and round icons. These new notifications came to the lock wall, changing it from a mostly-useless interstitial screen to a very useful «here’s what hit oned while your were gone» screen.

Full screen notifications for reproves and alarms were banished, replaced with a «heads up» notification that would pop into the top com ratively of the screen. Heads-up notifications also came to «high-priority» app notifications, which were instance intended for IM messages. It was up to developers to decide what was a high-priority notification even so, and after developers realized this would make their notifications uncountable noticeable, everyone started forcing them on users. Later renditions of Android would fix this by giving users control over the «high-priority» mounting.

Google also added a se rate-but-similarly-named «priority» notification system to Lollipop. «Precedency» notification was a mode in-between completely silent and «beep for everything» allowing drugs to flag certain people and apps as «important.» Priority mode resolution only beep for these important people. In the UI, this took the convention of a set of notification priority controls attached to the volume popup and a new settings shelter for priority notifications. And whenever you were in priority mode, there was a diminutive star in the status bar.

Quick Settings got a huge series of improvements The authorities were now a nel above the notification nel, so that it could be unsealed with a «double swipe down» gesture. The first pull down commitment open the notification nel, and the second pull down gesture liking shrink the notification nel and open Quick Settings. The layout of the Spry Settings controls changed, dumping the tile layout for a series of buttons bob on a single nel. The top was a very handy brightness slider, followed by buttons for connectivity, auto switch, the flashlight, GPS, and Chromecast.

There were also actual in-line nels now in the Animated Settings. It would display Wi-Fi access points, Bluetooth slogan, and data usage right in the main interface.

The Material Design revamp gave nearly every app a new icon and put oned a brighter, white background to the app drawer. There were lots of fluctuates to the default apps loadout. Say «hello» to the new apps: Contacts, Docs, Fit, Messenger-girl, Photos, Play Newsstand, Sheets, and Slides. Say «goodbye» to the dead apps: Gallery, G+ Photos, People, Butter up Magazines, Email, and Quickoffice.

Many of these new apps came from Google Constrain, which split up from a monolithic app into an app for each product. There was now Motivate, Docs, Sheets, and Slides, all from the Drive team. Drive is also creditable for the death of Quickoffice, which was consumed by the Drive team. In the «Google can not at all make up its mind» category: «People» got renamed back to «Contacts» again, and an SMS app called «Messenger-girl» was reinstated at the behest of cellular carriers. (Those carriers did not like Google Hangouts compelling over SMS duties.) We got one genuinely new service: Google Fit, a fitness tracking app that go on Android phones and Android Wear watches. There was also a fix of Play Magazines to include websites, so it changes names to «Play Newsstand.»

There were diverse cases of proprietary Google apps taking over for AOSP.

  • «G+ Photos» enhanced «Google Photos» and took over default picture duties from the AOSP Gallery, which enhanced a dead app. The name change to «Google Photos» was in pre ration for Photos being towed out of Google+ and launching as a standalone service. The Google Photos launch devise happen about six months after the launch of Lollipop—for now, this is reasonable the Google+ app s wning a new icon and interface.
  • Gmail took over POP3, IMAP, and Disagreement e-mail duties from the «Email» app. Despite being dead Email to had an app icon, which was a fake—it only displayed a message that ordered users to setup all e-mail accounts in the Gmail app.
  • The «People» to «Contacts» interchange was actually to «Google Contacts» another AOSP replacement app.

Google Search was line for line everywhere in Lollipop. A new «always-on voice recognition» feature allowed consumers to say «OK Google» at any time, from any screen, even when the display was off. The Google app was yet Google’s primary home screen, a feature which debuted in KitKat. The search bar was now offer on the new recent apps screen, too.

Google Now was still the left-most home camouflage ge, but now a Material Design revamp gave it headers with big audacious colors and redesigned typography.

The Truckle to Store followed a similar th to other Lollipop apps. There was a leviathan visual refresh with bold colors, new typography, and a fresh layout. It’s rare that there’s any additional functionality here, merely a new coat of int on everything.

The Navigation nel for the Play Store could now in actuality be used for navigation, with entries for each section of the Play Accumulate. Lollipop also typically did away with the overflow button in the vigour bar, instead deciding to go with a single action button (usually search) and tip every extra option in the navigation bar. This gave users a unattached place to look for items instead of having to hunt through two odd menus.

Also new in Lollipop apps was the ability to make the status bar simple. This allowed the action bar color to bleed right through the reputation bar, making the bar only slightly darker than the surrounding UI. Some interfaces tied used a full-bleed hero image at the top of the screen, which would may be seen through the status bar.


Google Calendar was completely re-written, gaining everythings of new design touches and losing lots of features. You could no longer rose zoom to adjust the time scale of views, month view was toured on phones, and week view regressed from a seven-day view to five hours. Google would spend the next few versions re-adding some of these traits after users complained. «Google Calendar» also doubled down on the «Google» by eradicating the ability to add third- rty accounts directly in the app. Non-Google accounts would now require to be added via Gmail.

It did look nice, though. In some views, the start of each month premiere c ended with a header picture, just like a real per docket. Events with locations attached showed pictures from those situations. For instance, my «flight to San Francisco» displayed the Golden Gate Bridge. Google Docket would also pull events out of Gmail and display them accurately on your calendar.

Other apps all fell under attractive much the same description: not much in the way of new functionality, but big redesigns swapped out the old of KitKat with bold, bright colors. Hangouts gained the aptitude to receive Google Voice SMSes, and the clock got a background color that differences with the time of day.

Job Scheduler whips the app ecosystem into shape

Google firm to focus on battery savings with Lollipop in a project it called «Engagement Volta.» Google started creating more battery tracking wns for itself and developers, starting with the «Battery Historian.» This python create took all of Android’s battery logging data and spun it into a interesting, interactive graph. With its new diagnostic equipment, Google flagged training tasks as a big consumer of battery.

At I/O 2014, the com ny noted that entitling airplane mode and turning off the screen allowed an Android phone to run in standby for a month. Howsoever, if users enabled everything and started using the device, they wouldn’t get finished with a single day. The takeaway was that if you could just get everything to stop doing building blocks, your battery would do a lot better.

As such, the com ny created a new API elicited «JobScheduler,» the new traffic cop for background tasks on Android. Before Job Scheduler, every unmarried app was responsible for its background processing, which meant every app would severally wake up the processor and modem, check for connectivity, organize databases, download updates, and upload logs. The whole had its own individual timer, so your phone would be woken up a lot. With JobScheduler, behind the scenes tasks get batched up from an unorganized free-for-all into an orderly upbringing processing window.

JobScheduler lets apps specify conditions that their piece of work needs (general connectivity, Wi-Fi, plugged into a wall egress, etc), and it will send an announcement when those conditions are met. It’s like the imbalance between push e-mail and checking for e-mail every five take downs… but with task requirements. Google also started propelling a «lazier» approach to background tasks. If something can wait until the thingamajig is on Wi-Fi, plugged-in, and idle, it should wait until then. You can see the effects of this today when, on Wi-Fi, you can plug in an Android phone and purely then will it start downloading app updates. You don’t instantly need to download app updates; it’s kindest to wait until the user has unlimited power and data.

Device setup draws future-proofed

Setup was overhauled to not just authorize to the Material Design guidelines, but it was also «future-proofed» so that it can handle any new login and authentication manoeuvres Google cooks up in the future. Remember, rt of the entire reasoning for publication «The History of Android» is that older versions of Android don’t work anymore. One more time the years, Google has upgraded its authentication schemes to use better encryption and two-factor authentication, but combining these new login requirements breaks com tibility with older customers. Lots of Android features require access to Google’s cloud infrastructure, so when you can’t log in, utensils like Gmail for Android 1.0 just don’t work.

In Lollipop, setup jogs much like it did before for the first few screens. You get a «welcome to Android shield» and options to set up cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity. Immediately after this se rate out, things changed though. As soon as Lollipop hit the internet, it pinged Google’s servers to «check for updates.» These weren’t updates to the OS or to apps, but updates to the setup handle about to run. After Android downloaded the newest version of setup, then it prayed you to log in with your Google account.

The benefit of this is evident when demanding to log into Lollipop and Kitkat today. Thanks to the updatable setup issue, the «2014» Lollipop OS can handle 2016 improvements, like Google’s new «tap to put in» 2FA method. KitKat chokes, but luckily it has a «web-browser sign-in» that can command 2FA.

Lollipop setup even takes the extreme stance of putting your Google e-mail and open sesame on se rate ges. Google hates sswords and has come up with a few experimental ways to log into Google without one. If your account is setup to not fool a ssword, Lollipop can just skip the ssword ge. If you have a 2FA setup that turn to accounts a code, setup can slip the appropriate «enter 2FA code» ge into the setup fall. Every piece of signing in is on a single ge, so the setup flow is modular. ges can be amplified and removed as needed.

Setup also gave users control ended app restoration. Android was doing some kind of data restoration yesterday to this, but it was impossible to understand because it just picked one of your plots without any user input and started restoring things. A new screen in the setup squirt let users see their collection of device profiles in the cloud and pick the off with one. You could also choose which apps to restore from that backup. This backup was apps, your to the quick screen layout, and a few minor settings like Wi-Fi hotspots. It wasn’t a built app data backup.


Setting swapped from a dark theme to a undemanding one. Along with a new look, it got a handy search function. Every protect gave the user access to a magnifying glass, which let them various easily hunt down that elusive option.

There were a few environments related to Project Volta. «Network Restrictions» allowed users to subside a Wi-Fi connection as metered, which would allow JobScheduler to keep away from it for background processing. Also as rt of Volta, a «Battery Saver» fashion was added. This would limit background tasks and throttle down the CPU, which sent you a long lasting but very sluggish device.

Multi-user support has been in Android slabs for a while, but Lollipop finally brought it down to Android phones. The mise en scenes screen added a new «users» ge that let you add additional account or start up a «Customer» account. Guest accounts were temporary—they could be wiped out with a choose tap. And unlike a normal account, it didn’t try to download every app associated with your account, since it was fated to be wiped out soon.

Android TV

November 2014 saw Android go on its march to take over everything with a screen as Google revealed Android TV. A division inside the com ny had previously tried to take beyond the living room with Google TV during the Honeycomb era, but this was a unconditional reboot of the idea directly from the Android team. Android TV took Android 5.0 Lollipop and make overed it a Material Design interface purpose-built for the biggest screen in the house. For organize hardware, Google tapped Asus to build the «Nexus Player,» an underpowered-but-versatile set top box.

Android TV was deep down about three things: video, music, and games. You controlled the TV with a teensy-weensy remote consisting only of a D- d with 4 buttons: Back, Internal, Microphone, and Play/ use. For games, Asus simply cloned the Xbox 360 controller, reject players a million buttons and a ir of analog sticks.

The interface was lovely simple. Large horizontally-scrolling media thumbnails occupied the screen, filler the TV with content from YouTube, Google Play, Netflix, Hulu, and other origins. Instead of soiling everything in an app, the thumbnails were actually «recommended» points from many different content sources. Below that you could speedily access the apps and settings.

The voice interface was great. You could ask Android TV to fool around whatever you wanted, instead of hunting it down through the GUI. You could also run foxy search results on content, like «show me movies with Harrison Ford.» And in lieu of of app silos, every app could provide content to the indexing service. All these apps were blooded in a TV-version of the Play Store. Developers specifically supporting Android TV contrivances also supported the Google cast protocol, allowing users to smile radiantly videos and music from their phones and tablets to the TV.

Android 5.1 Lollipop

Android 5.1 came out in Demonstration 2015 and was the tiniest of updates. The goal here was mainly to fix encryption conduct on the Nexus 6, along with adding device protection and a few interface tweaks.

Implement protection’s only UI addition took the form of a new warning during setup. The drawn in offered to «Protect your device from reuse» if it was stolen. Promptly a lock screen was set, device protection would kick in, and could be triggered during a machination wipe. If you wiped the phone the way an owner normally would—by unlocking the phone and picking «reset» from the locations—nothing would happen. If you wipe the phone through developer works though, the device would demand that you «verify a previously-synced Google Account» during the next setup.

The thought was that a developer would know the pervious Google credentials on the gambit, but a thief would not so they’d be stuck at setup. In practice this triggered a cat and mouse target dissemble of people finding exploits that get around device protection, and Google getting vow of the bug and tching it. Software features added by OEM skins also introduced fun new idiot ruins to get around device protection.

There was also a whole host of uncommonly minor UI changes that we have dutifully cataloged in the gallery, over. There’s not much to say about them beyond the captions.

Android Auto

Also in Tread 2015, Google launched «Android Auto,» a new Android-inspired interface for car infotainment methods. Android Auto was Google’s answer to Apple’s CarPlay and worked much the constant way. It wasn’t a full operating system—it’s a «casted» interface that melts on your phone and uses the car’s built-in screen as an external monitor. Ceaseless Android Auto means having a com tible car, installing the Android Auto app on your phone (Android 5.0 and unaffected by), and hooking the phone up to the car with a USB cable.

Android Auto brought Google’s Notes Design interface to your existing infotainment system, bringing top-tier software proposal to a platform that

What’s new on the homescreen? Mostly the new Google logo and a new wall per.
  • The new (old) vertical app drawer, searching the app drawer, and the skilful scroll feature.
  • Long press on a homescreen icon to move it about, and if it’s uninstallable, you’ll get this easy uninstall shortcut.
  • «Ok Google»—This is the imaginative new voice recognition UI.
  • The new Google Now interface has more white s ce than the old one.
  • The search UI pick ups the new Google app icon.
  • Search results have been revamped, too, with stickers on top.
  • The new voice interface with the Googley waveform.
  • The new Google app icon.


Marshmallow was the first off version of Android after This bar changed from time to occasion and tried to surface the apps you needed when you needed them. It cast-off an algorithm that took into account app usage, apps that are normally opened together, and time of day.

Google Now on Tap—a feature that didn’t quite develop out

One of Marshmallow’s headline features was «Google Now on Tap.» With Now on Tap, you could mastery down the home button on any screen and Android would send the absolute screen to Google for processing. Google would then try to figure out what the select was about, and a special list of search results would pop up from the footing of the screen.

Results yielded by Now on Tap weren’t the usual 10 blue components—though there was always a link to a Google Search. Now on Tap could also serious link into other apps using Google’s App Indexing article. The idea was you could call up Now on Tap for a YouTube music video and get a link to the Google Take up or Amazon «buy» ge. Now on Tapping (am I allowed to verb that?) a news article not far from an actor could link to his ge inside the IMDb app.

Rather than facilitate a make up for this a proprietary feature, Google built a whole new «Assistant API» into Android. The operator could pick an «Assist App» which would be granted scads of data upon long-pressing the home button. The Assist app would get all the text that was currently charged by the app—not just what was immediately on screen—along with all the images and any prominent metadata the developer wanted to include. This API powered Google Now on Tap, and it also tolerated third rties to make Now on Tap rivals if they wished.

Google hyped Now on Tap during Marshmallow’s commencing presentation, but in practice, the feature wasn’t very useful. Google Search is productive because you’re asking it an exact question—you type in whatever you want, and it polishes the entire Internet looking for the answer or web ge. Now on Tap made things infinitely harder because it didn’t unchanging know what question you were asking. You opened Now on Tap with a extremely specific intent, but you sent Google the very unspecific query of «all on your screen.» Google had to guess what your query was and then whacked to deliver useful search results or actions based on that.

Behind the chapters, Google was probably processing like crazy to brute-force out the result you prerequisite from an entire ge of text and images. But more often than not, Now on Tap yielded what commiserate with like a list of search results for every proper noun on the phase. Sifting through the list of results for multiple queries was like being entrapped in one of those Bing «

Installing an app on Android 6.0 versus 5.0.
  • Android 6.0’s app leave list looks just like the old App Ops interface in Android 4.3.
  • App permissions popup, the franchises setting for Chrome, and the «Never ask again» checkbox that appears when an app asks for a authorization a second time after being denied.
  • Updated apps, fellow Twitter and Google Camera, tell the user that they are defeated because the user turned off a certain permission. Facebook hasn’t updated, so it is docile and the user has no idea why.
  • A few more «This is broken because you denied a tolerance» messages from Google apps.
  • Press the gear on the «Apps» evaluate and you get the «Configure apps» screen. From here you can see a list of permissions by ttern, which makes blocking everything from a certain permission or winning an inventory of who-has-access-to-what easier.
  • «Draw over other apps» is a new approval too, but it gets a se rate spot on the «Configure Apps» screen rather than being a countenance in the permissions list. We’re not sure why.
  • If you want to see a list of all the apps, press the overflow button and pick «exposition system.» Denying permissions to these apps is probably a bad idea, although.
  • Warning messages for changing permissions with an old app and a system app.
  • The new, simpler licences list.

    Setting up the fingerprint reader.
  • The lock screen shows a fingerprint icon at the behind, to let you know you can unlock it. In the middle is the error message if it doesn’t recognize your influence, and on the right is the standard lock screen, which you can invoke just by swiping up.
  • The fingerprint stage sets are simple.
  • The Play Store can protect your purchases with a fingerprint.
  • Here’s Google’s representation app for the Confirm Credential API. Hit «purchase,» and if you haven’t unlocked the phone recently, you’ll be inquired to.
  • The difference between the Fingerprint and Confirm Credentials APIs. One is just for Fingerprints and sses the developer more control, and the other will work with any plant screen and has no interface customization.

    «Inactive apps,» which is all the way at the bottom of the developer privileges, gives a peek into which apps are in standby.
  • «Battery optimizations» enable to rent outs you block apps from being put to sleep.


«App Standby» was another power scrimping feature that more-or-less worked quietly in the background. The idea behind it was clear: if you stopped interacting with an app for a period of time, Android deemed it unimportant and raised away its internet access and background processing privileges.

For the purposes of App Standby, «interacting» with an app meant start-up the app, starting a foreground service, or generating a notification. Any one of these actions would reset the Standby timer on an app. For every other head start case, Google added a cryptically-named «Battery Optimizations» screen in the backdrops. This let users whitelist apps to make them immune from app standby. As for developers, they had an selection in Developer Settings called «Inactive apps» which let them manually put an app on standby for proof.

App Standby basically auto-disabled apps you weren’t using, which was a crucial way to fight battery drain from crapware or forgotten-about apps. Because it was from beginning to end silent and automatically happened in the background, it helped even novice narcotic addicts have a well-tuned device.

Google tried many app backup schemes over the years, and in Marshmallow it

Android’s App Component settings, basically a URL forwarding system for apps.


Buried in the settings was a new «App tie up» feature, which could «link» an app to a website. Before app linking, breach up a Google Maps URL on a fresh install usually popped up an «Open With» dialog box that in need of to know if it should open the URL in a browser or in the Google Maps app.

This was a nerd question, since of course you wanted to use the app instead of the website—that’s why you had the app fix in placed. App linking let website owners associate their app with their web ge. If operators had the app installed, Android would suppress the «Open With» dialog and use that app in lieu of. To activate app linking, developers just had to throw some JSON jus divinum divine law on their website that Android would pick up.

App linking was huge for sites with an obvious app client, like Google Maps, Instagram, and Facebook. For installs with an API and multiple clients, like Twitter, the App Linking settings cover gave users control over the default app association for any URL. Out-of-the-box app tie-in covered 90 percent of use cases though, which cut down on the get on someones nerving pop ups on a new phone.

Adoptable storage was one of Marshmallow’s finery features. It turned SD cards from a janky secondary storage wading pool into a perfect merged-storage solution. Slide in an SD card, format it, and you instantly had multifarious storage in your device that you never had to think about again.

Mud-sliding in a SD card showed a setup notification, and users could choose to aspect the card as «portable» or «internal» storage. The «Internal» option was the new adoptable storage vogue, and it ved over the card with an ext4 file system. The only downside? The bank card card joker and the data were both «locked» to your phone. You couldn’t recoil the card out and plug it into anything without formatting it first. Google was growing for a set-it-and-forget-it use case with internal storage.

If you did yank the card out, Android did its best to act with things. It popped up a message along the lines of «You’d better put that sponsor or else!» along with an option to «forget» the card. Of course «overlooking» the card would result in all sorts of data loss, and it was not recommended.

The sad be involved in of adoptable storage is that devices that could actually use it didn’t common knowledge for a long time. Neither Nexus device had an SD card, so for the review we rigged up a USB be as our adoptable storage. OEMs initially resisted the feature, with

The notion priority notification controls in 5.1 were scrapped for a single bar.
  • The bar is ex ndable and demonstrations volume levels for notifications, media, and alarms.
  • The notification settings that were at hand in the dialer are now in a quick settings nel.
  • If you’re in a priority mode, it will presentation up under the volume still.
  • App notification controls have added per-app supervise over the «Peek» pop up notification.
  • The Do Not Disturb and Automatic Rules settings.
  • DND can be set automatically via a slate event.
  • The new priority settings.
  • Apps can control Do Not Disturb settings, but we don’t require any com tible apps.


Google walked back the priority notification controls that were in the tome popup in favor of a simpler design. Hitting the volume key popped up a segregate slider for the current audio source, along with a drop down button that flesh out the controls to show all three audio sliders: Notifications, media, and startles. All the priority notification controls still existed—they just animated in a «do not disturb» quick-settings tile now.

One of the most relieving additions to the notification dominates gave users control over Heads-Up notifications—now renamed «Glimpse» notifications. This feature let notifications pop up over the top portion of the screen, precisely like on iOS. The idea was that the most important notifications should be distinguished over your normal, everyday notifications.

However, in Lollipop, when this main film was introduced, Google had the terrible idea of letting developers decide if their apps were «prominent» or not. Of course, every developer thinks its app is the most important thing in the domain. So while the feature was originally envisioned for instant messages from your closest contacts, it ended up being hijacked by Facebook «Appreciate» notifications. In Marshmallow, every app got a «treat as priority» checkbox in the notification environments, which gave users an easy ban hammer for unruly apps.

Monthly safety updates

Text selection commands now happen in a floating toolbar, more than taking over the top bar.
  • The ellipsis will bring up another poise menu with extra commands, and apps can add commands themselves.
  • Apps can in actuality add text selection commands to other apps. Here’s Google Forward adding a «translate» button in Google Keep.
  • Google’s Sample app for Chrome Usage Tabs.
  • Google’s example of the speed savings of custom tabs.

    Google amplified an «Android security tch level» to the «About phone» screen.
  • For the built-in hotspot functionality, you can now distinguish which Wi-Fi band you want to use.
  • There’s now a top-level «Memory» cross-section in the settings.
  • The App Info screen has been revamped to link to an app’s millions of mountings screens around the OS.
  • Also at the bottom of the Google Settings is a «set up nearby signet» option that uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. This is the same as the NFC setup in Lollipop, but all about Wi-Fi.
  • The System UI Tuner.
  • The System UI Tuner’s Quick Settings customization blind. This is a very early version of a custom quick settings tile, but well-mannered luck figuring out what to type into this box.
  • You can hide plan icons from the status bar.
  • There’s an option to show the battery rt in the battery icon, and you can enable demo mode for a clean status bar.
  • The new USB way outs.
  • There is now a «delete» button in the screenshot notification. Woo.
  • Here’s the Easter Egg, if you were staring. It’s a Marshmallow version of Flappy Bird called «Marshmallow Land.»

The contents selection menu is now a floating toolbar that pops up right next to the topic you’re selecting. This wasn’t just the regular «cut/copy/ ste» controls, either. Apps could put special options on the toolbar, like the «add associate» option in Google Docs.

After the standard text commands, an ellipsis button intention expose a second menu, and it was here that apps could add bonus features to the text selection menu. Using a new «text processing» API, it was now wonderful easy to ship text directly to another app. If you had Google Translate fix in placed, a «translate» option would show up in this menu. Eventually Google Search united an «Assist» option to this menu for Google Now on Tap.

Marshmallow added a veiled settings section called the «System UI Tuner.» This section at ones desire turn into a catch-all for power user features and experimental points. To access this you had to pull down the notification nel and hold down on the «mountings» button for several seconds. The settings gear would spin, and at last you’d see a message indicating that the System UI Tuner was unlocked. Once it was put on, you could find it as the bottom of the system settings next to Developer Selections.

In this first version of the System UI Tuner, users would add form toll tiles to the Quick Settings nel, a feature that would later be courteous into an API apps could use. For now the feature was very rough, basically allocating users to type a custom command into a text box. System station icons could be individually turned on and off, so if you really hated knowing you were stuck to Wi-Fi, you could kill the icon. A popular power user into the bargain was the option for embedding a percentage readout into the battery icon. There was also a «demo» modus operandi for screenshots, which would replace the normal status bar with a make believe, clean version.

Android 7.0 Nougat, Pixel Phones, and the approaching


From inside another app, long press on the Recent Apps button and you’ll cut the wall off in half. Here’s an example on a tablet.
  • Pick a second app from Late Apps and you’ve got two apps!
  • Split screen is vertical on a phone. Here are a few models of the 50/50 mode, Recent Apps, and the 2/3 mode.
  • «Freeform window SOP» running on the Android N Developer Preview.
  • Picture-in-Picture mode on Android TV.


One of the most enchanting additions to Nougat is a revamp of the app framework to allow for resizable apps. This approved Google to implement split screen on phones and tablets, picture-in-picture on Android TV, and a bizarre floating windowed mode. We’ve been able to access the floating window method with some software trickery, but we’ve yet to see Google use it in an actual product. Is it being level focus oned at desktop computing?

Android and Chrome OS also continue to grow together. Android apps

We sooner a be wearing yet to see how the historical legacy of the Pixel phones will shake out. Google nightspot into the hardware pool with the launch of two new smartphone flagships, the Pixel and Pixel XL, simply recently. Google had produced co-branded Nexus phones with mates before, but the Pixel line is a «Google» branded product. The com ny asks it is a full hardware OEM now, using HTC as a contract manufacturer similarly to the way Apple uses Foxconn.

With its own ironmongery comes a change in how Google makes software. The com ny created the «Google Consort with» as the future of the «OK Google» voice command system. But rather than get out it out to every Android device, the Assistant is an exclusive Pixel feature. Google redressed some changes to the interface, with a custom «Pixel launcher» digs screen app and a new System UI, both of which are Pixel exclusives. We’ll have to put off to see what the balance of future features are between «Android» and «Pixel» prevailing forward.

With these changes, we’re probably at the most uncertain spike in Android’s history. But ahead of the platform’s recent October 2016 at the time, Hiroshi Lockheimer, SVP of Android, Chrome OS, and Google Play, said he believed we’ll all look rear fondly on these latest Android developments. Lockheimer is essentially the in circulation king of software at Google, and he thought the newest updates could be the ton significant Android happening since the OS debuted eight years earlier. While he wouldn’t precise much on this sentiment after the unveilings, the fact remains that this schedule next year we might not even be talking about Android—it could be an Android/Chrome OS compound! So as has always been the case since 2008, the next chapter in Android’s biography looks to be nothing if not interesting.

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