Oh, Android. How far you've come since the days of the G1. Actually, tomorrow, October 22nd, will mark 3 years to the day that Android has been available on consumer handsets in the United States, and the G1 on T-Mobile was concepción.

With Ice Cream Sandwich finally revealed, Android has gone through its seventh major iteration. How has Android changed? What better way to illustrate Android's evolution than its home screen, the hub of user interaction. Here's a look at the face of Android over the last 3 years.

Android 1.5: Cupcake


Android Version 1.5: Cupcake

Cupcake was step one for what was, at the time, Google's recently acquired mobile operating system Android. While Android 1.0 was introduced on the G1 at launch, Cupcake marked the first iteration of the Android we generally know today (with things like a virtual keyboard!), and also the start of Google's dessert-based code name system for versions of the OS. So, we felt it was better to start here.

Android 1.6 Donut


Android Version 1.6: Donut

Donut was largely a under-the-hood overhaul for Android, and brought support for CDMA networks, text to speech, a vastly improved market, and revamped the Search functionality to not just search the web, but your phone as well. Minor visual changes (like a lighter notification bar color) were implemented, but generally, it looked pretty similar to Cupcake.

Android 2.1: Eclair


Android Version 2.1: Éclair

Éclair was Android's first visual revamp since the company's acquisition by Google. Gone was the old app drawer, live wallpapers were introduced, icons were all revamped, and Android just started to look a whole lot better. Home screen dots were added, and menus were improved, as was performance generally.

Android 2.2: Froyo


Android Version 2.2: Froyo

Android Froyo brought us the quick-launch icons for the dialer and browser next to the app drawer, as well the addition of the selectable search type menu on the Search widget. Froyo was most vaunted as a performance boost, and included major backend changes to Android that sped up the user experience, and particularly apps.

Android 2.3: Gingerbread


Android Version 2.3: Gingerbread

Initially, Gingerbread was supposed to be a "major" visual update for Android. In reality, it was more of a boot polishing. Gingerbread finally did away with the ugly, old notification bar, in favor of the black one you see above. The launcher icons were also changed, and the whole OS's color scheme was changed to black and green, with that nifty orange menu scroll glow. There was also the introduction of the cathode-ray TV style screen power-off effect, which was just awesome. Gingerbread brought a lot of other improvements as well - including major updates to Google apps and performance enhancements. Oh, and a cool new keyboard.

Android 3.0: Honeycomb


Android Version 3.0: Honeycomb

Honeycomb will probably be remembered as the stepping stone to bigger and better things for Android - the good idea that never gained much traction. But Google sort of designed it that way. Honeycomb was pretty much closed source, and it was never intended to run on phones. So it wasn't really like any other version of Android. But clearly, design cues and interface functions were taken from the tablet-centric OS when developing Ice Cream Sandwich, making it worthy of a mention, at least.

Android 4.0: Ice Cream Sandwich


Android Version 4.0: Ice Cream Sandwich

Ice Cream Sandwich marks the biggest visual change to Android since Éclair. In fact, it's a significantly larger step than that. Software function buttons. Brand new icons. A whole new system font, color scheme, and reorganized menus. Ice Cream Sandwich is what Windows 7 is to XP - it kind of works in the same way, but you can immediately tell there have been major changes. And we love it. ICS also brings a slew of hardware acceleration enhancements, revamped Google apps, and a plethora of other stuff. There's so much going on that it wouldn't do this update to justice to try and cram it all into a single paragraph.

And Beyond?

What's next for Android? Who knows. We know that "Jelly Bean" is a contender for the next name in the Android line - but we kind of like the sound of Jawbreaker. Maybe Jujube. Or Jello. I'll stop now.

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • quiche

    You also skipped the unique homescreen of Android 2.0 (also Eclair)

    seen here: http://i.imgur.com/TgcVk.png

    • Devin

      ahhhhh, takes me back to when I got my d1. Nostalgia indeed.

    • David Ruddock

      That version was only on the DROID, and only for a few months. Eclair 2.1 was so similar aside from the app drawer that they didn't bother changing the name, so I don't think it's really necessary to distinguish the two.

      • quiche

        I don't know. The homescreen looks about as different from 2.1 as 1.6 did from 1.5.

        There were also a number of major features added from 2.0 to 2.1 also, including pinch-to-zoom in the browser, the 3d cooliris gallery app (also with pinch-zoom), live wallpapers, a new music player UI, and the awesome news & weather app.

        You shouldn't skip the importance of the 2.0 --> 2.1 upgrade ust because Google officially likes to gloss over the major changes (which was mostly a marketing stunt to keep down the backlash from a the massive number of Droid owners who were already upset that the Nexus One was announced right after the Droid came out).

  • carnegie0107

    I'd have liked to see 1.0. I was going to flash my G1 back to 1.0 for nostalgia's sake, but it no longer turns on. Also, where's 2.0? It really shows the transition between 1.x and 2.1. New icons and menus, but the same old app drawer and no LWPs. Ah, 3 years. And 2 1/2 years since I finally stopped stalking and became a junior member on XDA!

    • Level380

      My g1 still turns on... do you have a link to the firmware? I'll flash and post a picture for you

  • Daniel C

    The next release won't be "Jello". That's a brand trademark. Like Kleenex or Xerox.

    • David Ruddock

      Yes, I know. I was making a joke.

    • http://inportb.com/ Jiang

      ... just like Honeycomb is a trademark, right?

      • N

        ^No... Was that a joke/sarcasm? Lol..

    • Ryan

      Possibly not. The brand is Jell-O, not jello.

  • Zac

    You should also show the evolution of iOS homescreens over all the different versions.....oh wait that's pointless because they are exactly the same.

    • Phil Oakley

      They got wallpapers and folders. WOW.

  • LadyDi

    I came in on the G1 just as 1.5 was being updated. I am glad I was here for the ALL the desserts and hope to be here for whatever we're eating, sampling, tasting next.

  • Victor Stuber

    I started my journey on 1.5 and have loved every single update. Especially ICS when I get it

  • ABTBenjamins

    What Android means to me:

    Even though I'm not a developer and I only tinker mildly with custom ROMS, I *feel* involved. I feel like Android is more than the software running my phone, it's an extension of who I am, a natural evolution of technology into biology.

    • Letroy

      "a natural evolution of technology into biology"

      Wow. :D

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002743458418 Colton Clark

      a little dorky, but i feel its also a whole ecosystem of devs and users helping and growing together to get their devices to do and be more...

      ending dorkness

  • http://matjoe.com matjoe

    i start my android journey on honeycomb. its good to know what we have before that

  • Tyler Walles

    i started out with cupcake on th mytouch 3g, ive had every itteration thus far (aside from eclair) and have enjoyed every moment

  • Chris

    I started at froyo. After making the jump from ios best move I've ever made..

    • ex-iPhone user

      I second your comment!

      Same thing... came to Froyo on Desire Z from a iPhone 3G. And have never looked back. Right now running MIUI on it with Launcher 7, who needs Windows phone now?

      Android FTW!!!!

  • kunal

    Android has definately created history...i started wid 2.1 eclair on my galaxy s n nw im on 2.3.3 gingerbread on my galaxy s2..! i hope ics comes soon to S2

  • p51d007

    Sticking with 2.2.2 on my Streak...it's STABLE. I've seen some of the non official GB & HC roms that the cooks have made for the streak, but each one has it's "quirks". This is a business device for me and I can't be hassled by FC's and reboots. I can go weeks with my streak on 24/7 without a reboot. 2.2.x is rock stable, which is why I guess it is on "more" devices than the rest.

  • Alice

    Dad gave me his Nexus One in Jan so I started at Froyo. 3 months later we got 2.3.4 GB. Android and Nexus One FTW!!

  • L boogie

    Joined the Android universe with éclair and still one of the great phones in the game, htc incredible (now running 2.3.7) with plans to get the Galaxy nexus soon or the htc rezound or motorola razr until the next wave of superphones hits the Android universe.

  • truballa4real7

    started out with the g1 cupcake =] have had all the updates so far. phones owned g1, og droid, nexus one, hero cdma, droic inc, htc sensation, and evo.. never owned iphone came from the sidekicks and instinct cant wait for some isc on the galaxy nexus =]

  • duplissi

    started with the cdma hero (cupcake) which ushered in the trend of oem ui modifications.... have since had every version thereafter across 4 devices hero, epic 4g, photon 4g, eee pad transformer. (preferably aosp if i can get a rom for my phone.)

  • Jadnice

    I have been a fan of Google android from the very beginning. I always knew android would the number 1 smartphone OS.

    I join the android nation with Motorola atrix 4G running froyo. Currently loving gingerbread and looking forward to the ICS upgrade.

  • http://Google Fabian

    I started on a att tilt and ported android éclair on it now I'm on a htc my touch 4g 2.3.4. Wow the changes from then to now

  • Wes

    Started with android with the "preview" pre g1, not even sure there was a number assigned to it. Booted into it on my HTC tilt, no app drawer, no market, etc... first actual android phone was the DROID.

  • Chinpokomon

    My goodness.

    My first taste of Android was the development previews before the G1 was released. Shortly after the G1 came to market, I bought a G1 to replace my aging Palm Treo 700w. Not convinced, and because I had a credit with my at the time carrier, I returned the G1 and picked up a Samsung Omnia. Dissatisfied with both devices, I waited a few more months, and went back to the G1, because I thought it was on the right track and gave a more complete experience, purchasing the ADP1 through Google rather than getting something from the carrier. This was a big commitment at the time because it meant I also was changing carriers. By this point, the G1 was running 1.1, and I haven't looked back sense. I've owned the G1 (still running a version of GB today), the MT3G (a.k.a. ADP2), the N1, and now the Nexus S... getting the Nexus Prime is the only rational thing for me to do, provided they bring it to T-Mobile.

  • http://androidphonedriver.blogspot.com samsung android driver

    Dad gave me his Nexus One in Jan so I started at Froyo. 3 months later we got 2.3.4 GB. Android and Nexus One FTW!!

  • http://www.comichippo.com Savita Bhabhi

    I have Cyanogenmod 7.1 (Android 2.3.7 ) on my Galaxy S . Though it is Gingerbread , the home looks like crappy Ecliar . How do I make it look more glossy/polished ( Gingerbread one ) ??

  • http://profiles.google.com/charitojohn John charitos

    started with eclair on Galaxy S , and first ever smart phone for me. I found it absolutely amazing. Kept it up to ice cream sandwich ( i became a rom junky about 3-4 months into it ) and jumped on Gnex when i had a chance to buy it very cheap. Now still on Gnex with Jelly bean and loving it more and more!

  • Zubair

    I cant wait to see what the next few years holds for Android and all the new versions.

    • http://twitter.com/Moo_Guy_ Javier Fernandez

      Hi, past! Well 4.0 to 4.1 is more like éclair to froyo. So is 4.1 to 4.2.

  • Cherokee4Life

    you should really keep updating this post! :)

  • Cherokee4Life

    you should update this...

  • http://mobilepricesnews.com/ Mobile

    Android is the best innovative and well style and designed community. Curretly more popular than that of iOS.