Which of the following desserts would you like to try? Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jellybean, Lollipop, or Marshmallow? Well, relax, there won’t be any additional calories put on today. These are the confectionery names of the Android Operating Systems. What are they and what relationship do they have to my Samsung devices? Let me try to break down the history of the open Android platform that Google and the Open Handset Alliance have been developing since 2008.
Android Operating Systems – History
Here is an overall history as captured in the table below:
Android Operating Systems – The Most Recent
Ice Cream Sandwich – October 2011
Android Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) was the start of the serious development of the Android operating systems. This was also called Android 4.0 and was the first to unify the platforms of tablet and smartphones. There was a new visual appearance called “Holo” that reflected a cleaner and more simpler design. This made the new range of Android based phones much more pleasing to the eye and resulted in some great new smartphone releases such as the Samsung S4. The cleaner interface, faster internet browser and the new NFC integration made ICS a bright new system. Some of the downsides to Ice Cream Sandwich were that the Android 4.0 stock apps lacked the quality and functionality of third party developers. So, six months later, it was usurped by the next OS – Jellybean.
Jellybean – July 2012
Jellybean was released to attendees of Google’s developer conference in June 2012 and started to appear in devices the next month. The improvements over Ice Cream Sandwich focused on giving the operating system a smoother and more responsive feel. Over the next year, Android 4.2 and 4.3 were unveiled, introducing lock screen widget, screen savers and a multi-user support for tablets. This really highlighted the advantage Android had over Apple’s operating system in that it allowed users to set up the interface of their tablets to match that on their smartphones. It is what I was attracted to when I bought my Samsung Galaxy Note 8 tablet and could adjust the interface layout to match my Galaxy S3 smartphone.
Kitkat – October 2013
This was quite a winner for Nestle as they collaborated with Google to promote the Android 4.4 incarnation of Android operating systems. (No money changed hands, said Google, but Nestle collected as they released an Android range of Kitkats). This was a real step up and it proved to serious smartphone users that it was going to be a great match if not better that iOS 7. On this update, the calling and messaging side of the platform was addressed with a vast range of improvements. The new focus on smartphone productivity took center stage and Google Now started to come into its own on the smartphone platform. Minor tweaks over subsequent months were called 4.4.1, 4.4.2 and 4.4.3, all of this prepared users for the next major overhaul of the system when Android Lollipop arrived on the scene.
Lollipop – November 2014
Android 5.0 was released at the Google I/O conference in June 2014 and started to appear on devices toward the end of the year. It also opened up over 5000 APIs to developers which meant that the number of available third-party apps through Google Play store was now going to skyrocket. Improvements to battery consumption were included as well, including battery saver mode so that some features were limited to WiFi use only. My Samsung Galaxy Note 3 was released with Android Jellybean but since I have owned it, the operating system has recently been automatically updated to use Lollipop. Some of the changes have taken a bit to get used to, but overall it is a vast improvement on the Android 4.0+ versions of the system.
Marshmallow – October 2015
The latest Android operating system is Android 6.0 called Marshmallow. Samsung have started rolling out updates on all Galaxy S6, S6 Edge and Note 5 models. My wife’s Galaxy Note 5 is still using the Android 5.1 system under the Lollipop moniker, while the latest release Galaxy, the S7 and S7 Edge all come with Marshmallow as standard. What does it have that Lollipop didn’t?
Marshmallow introduces fingertip security so that PINs and passwords are no longer needed if you prefer a faster security set-up. In addition, Marshmallow allows you to set up the permissions you will give to downloaded apps, giving you greater control on what these apps use on your device. Battery consumption is a priority with Android 6.0. When your smartphone or tablet is resting, “Doze” automatically puts it into a sleep state. Even if you forget to charge the battery overnight, the morning alarm will still work. Apps Standby also limits the drain apps put on your battery, meaning that you aren’t hunting for the charger mid-afternoon.
Android Operating Systems – Conclusion
Keeping up with these updates can be a challenge. If you have an Android device, such as a Samsung, HTC, LG, etc., most of the newer models can be set up for automatic updates. Check out the screenshots below from my Galaxy Note 3. It is under Settings / Device. Select About device and screenshot 2 should appear. Select Software Updates for pic 3 to appear.
It is a good thing to set your phone to auto updates since then you don’t have to think too much about the operating system, just enjoy the features. But if you are really enjoying the current dessert on your phone and you are concerned that any new updates may mess up the interface you have, then switch off auto updates. It is as simple as a check box (screenshot 3).
One thing is for sure, technology is always changing. Newer and usually better things are appearing on the stage. Having an awareness of what these Android operating systems are about, will give you a greater technological nous and if, like me are in the 50+ age demographic, you will be able to have meaningful conversations with the younger brigade in your family.
Need a new device? Check out the Amazon and eBay widgets on my home page to find a great deal on the Samsung Galaxy range of smartphones.