So the world’s most popular operating system turned 11 today. It’s good to see that Android is becoming better and more mature over the years. But I have started to feel old considering how a decade has passed since some software was released.
Android has had its share of ups and downs. Mostly ups because, honestly speaking, there hasn’t been any solid competitor in the game. Microsoft could have been one, but the company could do nothing more than witness Windows Phone becoming a part of history.
Even the market leader Nokia didn’t consider Android as a threat back then, and now we have Nokia-branded devices running Android (that too made by HMD Global).
Anyway, let’s talk about the back story and some interesting facts about the Android OS.
A little history of Android OS
Andy Rubin started the initial development of the Android OS and co-founded Android Inc. Rubin and his teammates had conceptualized an OS that would make cameras smarter.
But eventually, their focus shifted to the smartphone market as they started seeing Android as a competitor to Windows Phone and Nokia’s Symbian OS.
Android’s development saw a major boost after Google bought it in 2005. Google did whatever it could to make Android become a global success.
A big motivation was the company’s uncertain future in the technology world as Apple was all prepared to win over people with its iPhone and iOS.
Time passed and we saw both of them tasting success in different ways. Apple’s iOS remains a cup of tea for high-spending customers. Android, on the other hand, tried to reach each and every smartphone it can.
Android’s open-source nature has been a considerable factor behind its success. Not just the Stock experience, Android customization has gone to a whole new level, allowing users to personalize their phones in many different ways.
Still, Google has maintained a considerable share of control over the OS by making every good piece of it closed-source. All the good-looking Google apps and services you can’t live without are proprietary. Many of them have been shipping since Android 1.0 but they don’t form a part of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP).
Some notable features
While trying to make Android better, Google has added some notable features from time to time.
In Android 1.x, Google added the Android Market, Notifications bar and the support for third-party virtual keyboards. Then in Android 2.x, we saw Live Wallpapers, WiFi Hotspot, the ability to install apps on SD cards, tap and hold copy-paste feature, etc.
In later versions, Google made some major changes such as Screenshot capture (Android 4.0), native Emoji support (Android 4.3), Material Design (Android 5.0), Adoptable Storage (Android 6.0), Gesture Navigation (Android 9.0), Digital Wellbeing (Android 9.0), System-wide Dark Mode (Android 10.0) and so on.
Some unknown facts about Google’s Android
Now you know that Android OS wasn’t originally created by Google and that it was intended as a camera operating system. There are a lot more Android facts that you might have never heard of —
1. Android’s logo was inspired by toilet signs
The green Android bot logo was created by famous graphic designer Irina Blok back in 2007 when she worked for the search giant. Blok has recently joined Google’s AI division as the Product Design Lead.
Surprisingly, she got her inspiration from the signs that are displayed on toilet doors. Probably, that’s the reason the Android mascot is plain and 2D flat just like the signages.
So, as it’s commonly said, great ideas come from sitting on a toilet seat.
2. Android 2.3 got the first Android easter egg
Who doesn’t like Android Easter eggs? It’s another thing that almost everyone knows where to find them. So, every year, Google comes up with a new easter egg puzzle that puts people’s brains to work.
Another Android fact that comes in here is that Android 2.3 was the first version to get an easter egg. It included an image of the Android bot and a zombie gingerbread man.
3. An Android bot has no name
Speaking of the Android mascot again, Google hasn’t given it any official name. That’s why many people simply refer to it as the Android bot. But back in 2011 at the Google I/O conference, a bunch of Google engineers acknowledged they have unofficially named the bot “Bugdroid” and refer to it that way.
4. This Android version DIDN’T support smartphones
You might remember Android as an OS that works on almost every smartphone out there that’s not an iPhone. But that hasn’t always been the case. If you remember, Google released Android 3.0 Honeycomb in 2011 that was intended for tablet use only.
Unfortunately, Google couldn’t hold the ball in its court. It had to scrap the plans for a separate Android variant altogether, not to mention, how badly Android tablets performed in the market in the coming years.
Recently, with iPadOS, Apple has made an attempt to maintain a separate operating system for its line of tablet computers. Given the market share and popularity iPads have, it doesn’t seem Apple has made a bad move at all.
5. First Android with a name was Cupcake
We all have been fans of all those cool Android names taken from the desert world. It was really exciting to make some wild guesses every year.
During its initial years, Android didn’t actually have a name, and Android 1.5 Cupcake released in February 2009 was the first version to get a name.
In 2019, with the release of Android 10, Google decided to ditch the dessert names altogether because of some reasons. However, Google’s David Burke revealed that it would have been named Queen Cake if Google had gone for a name.
6. Not just Google, Microsoft also made money off Android
Windows Phone may have lost the battle to Android, but this doesn’t mean its daddy Microsoft has to cut down on money.
For every Android device sold to the users, Microsoft gets up to $10 as royalty money against the use of its patents. In fact, analysts have estimated that at one time, the company might be making over $2 billion per year doing nothing. One such technology is exFAT which is used to get SD cards working on Android.
However, last year, Microsoft joined the OIN and open-sourced around 60,000 patents giving relief to many Android OEMs. Recently, Microsoft has said it will open-source exFAT and make it available to the Linux community.