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Definition: Android versions

Following are the versions of Google's Android operating system, which comes with a variety of Google applications. Unlike the iPhone, each Android device manufacturer can overlay its own user interface features, which means the same version of the OS may not function identically in different devices. In addition, OS versions are rolled out at different times, and not all Android devices qualify to receive new updates. To save battery, a Doze mode limits background activity on a per-app basis, and Do Not Disturb can be set to avoid calls while allowing repeat callers to get through. See Android.

Android 10 - 2019
No more sweet tooth naming, the 10th version of Android is number 10. Like Facebook Messenger's Chat Heads, round Bubbles icons overlay on the screen when someone is phoning, and Bubbles can be employed by third-party app developers. Connecting to a Wi-Fi network is easier by scanning the QR code on your friend's phone, and vice versa. There is more user control over location information, privacy permissions and notifications. Project Mainline pushes security updates on phones that originally ship with Android 10. Parental permissions have been enhanced.

Pie 9.0 - 2018
Version 9 provides numerous enhancements. It improves battery life by offering adaptive features such as learning how you use apps and change brightness. Pie also predicts what you might do next. Slices display relevant parts of apps, and gestures can be used in addition to buttons. Multiple and external cameras are supported, and apps for work can be visually separated. Up to five Bluetooth devices can be connected, and incoming calls can be sent to all of them with different volume levels.

In 2018, Samsung introduced a new user interface for Galaxy S and Note devices running Pie. See One UI.

Oreo 8.0 - 2017
Version 8 improves battery life and performance by limiting what apps can do in the background. Users have more control over notifications and autofill, as well as support for high-quality Bluetooth codecs (see LDAC) and nearby Wi-Fi awareness (see Wi-Fi Aware).

Nougat 7.0 - 2016
If the app is compliant, it could be resized and moved around on screen as with a desktop computer. The Settings menu showed more information without going to a second level, a slider changed the display resolution and emergency info could be displayed on the lock screen. A Virtual Reality mode supported Google's upcoming Daydream VR feature, and Doze mode helped with battery life. An internal architecture created two stages: one that Google provided across all devices, and a second stage for vendor-supplied software. In addition, OpenJDK, the official Java open source runtime version, replaced Apache Harmony.

Marshmallow 6.0 - 2015
Major features were Android Pay mobile payment system and standardized fingerprint support, automatic data backup to the Google cloud, more context awareness of the user in Google Now and integration of the SD card into internal storage. Instead of agreeing to a slew of permissions before an app is installed, an app could be programmed to ask users for their consent when a resource is actually needed, such as contacts when emailing a photo. The Google Now voice search could be accessed from the lock screen, and Doze Mode sleeps the device after no activity for 30 minutes (notifications still come through). See Android Pay.

Lollipop 5.0 - December 2014
A redesigned user interface, known as Material Design, with notifications adhering to the card-based Google Now system. The Java Dalvik runtime engine was replaced by Android Runtime (ART), which provides cross-platform support for ARM, x86 and MIPS CPUs. Enterprise features included separating personal and business apps. Lollipop defaulted to encrypting the user's data to prevent theft in the event the device was compromised. The user's passcode was required to unlock the device and data. See Google Now.

KitKat 4.4 (formerly Key Lime Pie) - October 2013
A slicker, more polished interface and a host of changes, including improvements for instant messaging, photo editing and a full-screen display mode that was more immersive. Support for older phones with less than 1GB of RAM memory. "OK Google" was added to activate a voice search.

Jelly Bean 4.3 - July 2013
Low-power Bluetooth Smart was added with improved support for right-to-left languages (Hebrew, Arabic, etc.). Each tablet user could be restricted for parental control, store demos or other purposes. An autocomplete for the phone dialer offerd numeric or name suggestions, and the OpenGL ES 3.0 graphics standard was supported for greater game realism. See Bluetooth LE.

Jelly Bean 4.2 - November 2012
Major changes were support for multiple users on tablets (users had their own home screen and apps), a panoramic photo mode and direct wireless transfer to a TV set via Miracast (support in the TV or set-top box required). Swiping gestures and predictive text were added to the keyboard.

Jelly Bean 4.1 - August 2012
Jelly Bean provided the user with information automatically throughout the day (see Google Now). Also included were improved camera features and notifications. An internal "Project Butter" made Android run a bit smoother, and the speech-to-text function (voice typing) worked without an Internet connection, although not quite as accurately. Jelly Bean also included an improved voice search, which is the counterpart to Apple's Siri.

Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 - October 2011
Introduced on Samsung's Galaxy Nexus, Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) combined Gingerbread and Honeycomb versions into one. ICS added a raft of new features, including facial recognition unlocking, resizable Widgets, Wi-Fi Direct and touchscreen keys in lieu of hardware Home, Menu and Back buttons. It also introduced NFC data transfer (see Android Beam).

Honeycomb 3.0 - February 2011
Introduced on the Motorola Xoom, Honeycomb was a tablet-only version that took advantage of larger screens. Touted as "3D Holographic," it added toolbars at top and bottom and incorporated tabbed browsing and other desktop features. When plugging into a computer's USB port, Honeycomb used Microsoft's Media Transfer Protocol (see MTP) for file transfer rather than connecting as a USB mass storage device.

Gingerbread 2.3 - December 2010
Introduced on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus S, support was added for VoIP, enhanced copy/paste, front-facing camera, AAC audio and near field communication (NFC). Gingerbread allowed for screens with WXGA and higher resolution.

Froyo 2.2 - May 2010
Support for Bluetooth hands free, push notifications, Wi-Fi hotspot functionality and greater screen resolution. Better Microsoft Exchange and Android Market integration.

Eclair 2.0/2.1 - October 2009
Support for Microsoft Exchange mail. Search expanded to include SMS and MMS messages, and HTML5 support in the browser. More camera features, including flash, zoom and white balance.

Donut 1.6 - September 2009
Search expanded to include bookmarks and history. More camera integration and features.

Cupcake 1.5 - April 2009
Support for Widgets, such as a search box into the app on the home screen, virtual keyboards, MPEG-4 video and YouTube/Picasa uploading.

Version 1.0/1.1 - September 2008
First version of Android released on the HTC G1. It included all the basic Google programs (search, mail, contacts, calendar, etc.) along with synchronization. In February 2009, Version 1.1 added the capability of saving attachments in messages.