Cast your mind back to July 2005, anything memorable happen that month? Well, it was the month in which Google acquired Android to its portfolio. During this time, Google had been buying several small start-up businesses, the majority of which never saw the light of day, but Android turned out to be somewhat of a rarity, a small business with a future. Co-founded by Andy Rubin, who is now the Google Senior Vice President of Mobile, Android was nothing more than a speck within the mobile industry, a small time company who made software for mobile phones, nothing special and nothing out of the ordinary.
For the first couple of years after Google’s acquisition, nothing much happened in the world of Android, as far as we know, they just kept doing what they were doing, making solid and reliable software. But then comes a certain Mr Jobs, who unveils the, at the time, hotly anticipated, iPhone. Thanks to the wonderful world of technology sites, there was several rumours flying about regarding whether Google would bring out a rival phone to the iPhone, a gPhone anyone?, but it didn’t come to fruition and instead Android soon hit the headlines for something entirely different. On the 5th of November, 2007, Google finally admitted they had been looking into developing their own phone, but that they had also fully developed an entire open-source OS to rival that of Microsoft and the rest. No prizes for guessing the name of this so called open-source OS.
So how did Android become the face, and name, of Google’s developed OS? Well, Apple and Microsoft’s success at the time was staggering, and to try become a rival by themselves, Google probably wouldn’t have stood a chance. Instead it was a major force in creating the Open Handset Alliance (OHA), something which is still running today, along with HTC, Samsung and several other big players in the industry. From that point on, the Android OS was to become a permanent feature in Google’s armory. After several glimpses of the OS in the next few weeks, developers started to get an idea of what could be achieved through the new OS, and in February 2008, Qualcomm, and a few other companies, announced they would be manufacturing chipsets for a very basic, and original version of the OS, Android was very much alive.
After months of sweat, tears and tantrums, September 2008 saw the release of Android 1.0, and the first phone to sport the new OS? The HTC Dream. If you compare Android 1.0 to the recently announced Android 4.0, it is amazing to think of what has been achieved in 3 years, but it’s also great to see the ground from which Android has been built up from. The original OS still packed in a lot of features; including the Android Market, Gmail, Google Talk, Google Maps and a whole host of different gizmos and gadgets. The initial success of the Android OS was staggering, and by the end of the year the OHA had acquired Sony Ericsson, Toshiba and Vodafone into its ranks, it was clear that Android wasn’t an OS to be messed with. Around the same time, give or take a few months, Google also released the Android source code, developers rejoiced, rooting and hacking as we know it had begun.
The one question that I get asked a lot about Android, is why and when did the OS start to get food-related nicknames. Well for one, I have no idea why, it seems a strange but in a weird way sensible choice of nicknames. The first Android release to sport a fancy food nickname was its 1.5 release, or Cupcake for those who can remember. A host of new features were brought to life, and with it the world of widgets was born, and our home-screens haven’t looked back since. Soon to follow were Donut (1.6), Eclair (2.0/2.1), Froyo (2.2), Gingerbread (2.3) and then Honeycomb.
So where are we today with Android? Unless you’ve been living a cave for the past few days, you’d have noticed that Android 4.0 is on the horizon, or to some Android Ice Cream Sandwich. The new update will be first featured on Samsung’s new device, the Nexus, and is set to be the best OS yet, packed with more features than you could shake a droid at.
Its funny to think how much Android has developed in the past 6 years, the changes it has not only made to itself, thanks to Google, but also the changes it has made to the mobile industry. You may despise Apple, but the competition between the two has given us healthy competition, and with it Android just keeps getting better to better. I’m not the only one who hopes we see Android around for years and decades to come.