Android OS In A Nutshell

Multiple devices united by one operating system. From donuts to marshmallows, we look at Google’s Android OS through the years.
Compare Guru
Originally created by Android Inc., Android OS is a mobile operating system, which Google purchased in 2005. It now runs on multiple devices including smartphones, tablets and wearables. It has been the best selling operating system, based on total volume, since 2013.   Unlike iOS, the Android operating system is not restricted to just one handset, instead Google has open sourced the Android source code allowing any hardware manufacturer to utilise the code.   On similarity, what it does share with iOS is that Android’s user interface is based on direct manipulation, meaning that it uses a touchscreen which requires the use of gestures such as pinch, swipe, reverse pinch and a virtual keyboard for text input.   Having undergone many changes since its first release, the most current version of Android is Marshmallow (Google has always used sweets and baked goods to name every iteration of the OS). One of the major changes which occurred in Android (6.0) Marshmallow was the change of its design language to flatter, card based look which the company calls Material Design. Android. Marshmallow also brought Now On Tap, granular controls of app permissions and optimised battery consumption.  

Here’s a timeline of Android OS versions released so far:

  • 2008 - Android 1.1
  • 2009 - Android 1.5 (Cupcake)
    • Android 1.6 (Donut)
    • Android 2.0 and 2.1 (Eclair)
  • 2010 - Android 2.2 (Froyo)
    • Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)
  • 2011 - Android 3.0 (Honeycomb)
    • Android 3.1 (Honeycomb)
    • Android 3.2 (Honeycomb)
    • Android 4.0 (Ice-Cream Sandwich)
  • 2012 - Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
    • Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean)
  • 2013 - Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean)
    • Android 4.4 (Jelly Bean)
  • 2014 - Android 5.0 (Lollipop)
  • 2015 - Android 5.1 (Lollipop)
    • Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)
  While Android has primarily been used on tablets and smartphones, Google has expanded the OS to work on cars (Android Auto), TV (Android TV) and on wearable devices such as smartwatches (Android Wear).   Many major handset manufacturers such as Samsung Mobile, LG Mobile, Xiaomi, Huawei, Sony Mobile and Hisense use Android as their OS of choice, but “skins” the operating system with their own company specific user interface. This means that not all handsets feature the same design when it comes to interface. In an effort to provide consumers with a pure Android experience, Google has introduced the Nexus range of devices. Nexus devices (both handsets and tablets) have been made with a variety of partners, however each uses only pure Android as the operating system, which allows Nexus owners to get the latest OS updates first.