Android Police alum and current Ars Technica editor Ron Amadeo has been hard at work on something that might be of interest to you. Head on over to Ars and you can read Ron's 40,000 word history of Android. Yes, 40,000 words – for reference, the classic novella Animal Farm is about 10k words shorter. I can only hope Ron's bosses will unchain him from his desk and allow him to sleep now.


This article begins with the very first public beta builds of Android, and continues all the way up to the modern day and Android 4.4 KitKat. There's even an honest to goodness table of contents that takes up the whole first page. Yes, there will be a great deal of clicking to get through the whole thing. There are a ton of screenshots and in-depth interface comparisons sprinkled throughout, which only serves to remind you how far we've come. The chapter entitled "Android 2.1—the discovery (and abuse) of animations" is a particularly interesting trip down memory lane. The beta build stuff is neat too.

If you've got a few spare hours to kill, swing by Ars and read up on the history of Android. If the website isn't doing it for you, perhaps you'll want to add it to Pocket or a similar service to de-paginate.

[Ars Technica]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • Stas

    May BugDroid bless Ron, and AP :-)

  • Nawfil Afif Nibir


    • Not Tony

      +/u/dogetipbot 10000000000

      • David Margolin

        you tipped wrong.... :(

        +/u/dogetipbot 1000000000 doge verify

    • All_I_do_is_post_gifs
  • Phil Oakley

    Will add this to Instapaper and read this over the next few weeks/months. :)

  • Aaron Berlin

    Why not publish this as a Kindle Single? Wasn't Ars doing that at some point, already?

    • Nicholas Polydor

      Indeed, @titusthorngate:disqus, Ars Technica do that with John Siracusa's Mac OS X reviews.

      @ronamadeo:disqus, I hope that you're given a shout-out during the Google I/O 2014 Keynote!

  • http://ignaciozippy.com/ Ignacio Zippy

    WOW, great job. I’d buy this as a book, too much for digital reading.

  • thartist

    I know he used to be a part of your staff, but thank you AP for being honest and giving praise to material from another site when it deserves it. Cheers!

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    My god has Android come a long way since the original release

  • siddude11
    • kevslider

      Kill La Kill is sooo goood!

  • meijin3

    He writes some awesome stuff. I can't wait to sit down and read that!

  • DeadSOL

    Wow. Really? I miss Ron!

  • Robert-Alexandru Kislaposi

    I still remember android 1.6 and the feeling of getting the 2.2 update on my HTC Magic

    • someone755

      My first Android device -- a tablet -- initially came with 1.6, but by the time I got it, an update was already released and I got 2.2 installed. I am, to this day, tempted to wipe the dust off it and get 1.6 working again.
      We did hax around enough to get 2.3 working, some dudes even trying to port 3.0 (the lockscreen works!) and ICS (with some stability issues due to the 256 MB of RAM, though pretty smooth overall).
      What I'm reading right now, though -- Android 0.5 Milestones -- this is some old shit right here.

  • jpelgrom

    Thank god my eReader now has Pocket support. Would've been terrible to read otherwise (not the text, but reading from a PC screen is... not as nice).

  • john alica

    Is there anyone who have published their apps on google ?

  • Hugh Johnson

    Thank you Ryan, this is a great way for me to kill 8 hours at work today!!

    • iamnotkurtcobain

      Why is it called work then if you do something else lol ;)

  • Sandeep !!

    I still remember the days of 2011, where my Samsung Galaxy Mini (My first Android phone too) shipped with Froyo 2.2.1, which was the latest and greatest Android OS at that time and when the Nexus S showcased the New 2.3 Gingerbread OS, everyone going crazy behind it .. as by design it has an amazing green status bar icons, Nexus Lines Live wallpaper, new awesome launcher etc. So the next job was to wait for Samsung to push the 2.3 update. I waited .. and waited and waited ... and after the flagship (Galaxy S at that time) and some of the other medium range'd ones got the update finally the low specced one GMini got the update (And no, not via OTA but via Samsung Kies) Starting up Kies was always a pain in the a$$ as it was simply a $hitty piece of lagging nightmare. So Odin came real handy, and flashed the firmwares manually, downloaded from Sammobile. And voila Gingerbread 2.3 in my phone. But sadly it looked nowhere near like the Nexus S because of the Touchwiz torture. Unfortunately, visually noticing, only the statusbar icons changed and the RAM usage got higher resulting in higher battery usage. That was the only official update that phone has received from Samsung. Then came the custom ROM days, having Android 2.3 GB firmware was the basic requirement for having CyanogenMod 7 installed in your phone. Installed that and voila, Nexus S like UI in your Samsung phone. Then the experiments just went on and on ....

  • MichelleMAnderson

    The chapter entitled "Android 2.1—the discovery (and abuse) of animations" is a particularly interesting trip down memory lane. The beta build stuff is neat too. http://chilp.it/11ddd5

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

    haha thanks guys <3

    • iamnotkurtcobain

      Great work! I read all and I'm impressed by it. Android has made major changes since 2008 and I hope we'll see 5.0 in 2 weeks.


    • Parijat Mishra

      I hope you're gonna update it when 5.0 comes out. ;)

    • Himmat Singh

      Great job man. Would be nice if it was in an Ebook format as well or something.

      • Keith I Myers

        You can download a PDF by subscribing to their premium membership ($5.00 per month). I have the PDF on my Google Play Books account and synched to my Nexus 10 for a flight I have tonight.

        • Stanley C.

          Is this true? Where can I get menbership?

          • Keith I Myers

            The link is directly on the page.

      • Alexandre Schrammel

        may the pocket it helps you =P

      • Stanley C.

        Plus one here Ron please make a pdf or something! This is the most complete Android coverage! This is history!

    • Guest

      Thanks for killing my productivity...

    • joser116

      Do you by chance have access to the APK of the original Android 1.6 launcher?

    • kbelford

      Holy mother of god 26 pages articles! That's really really awesome job man!!
      As token of my appreciation, I will read it ALL this weekend, don't care if it takes all whole day :D

      On side note, I hope more of your articles to bring more people to appreciate and understanding Android.
      (yeah we all know ArsTechnica is full of loyal iOS fanboy. post any bad comment about apple or iOS and get lots insta-thumbdown quickly yada yada. try it yourself lol).

  • Kostas

    Nice! I 'm definetely checking this out!

  • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

    I kinda miss the trackball...

  • Sruly J

    During my wanderings on the internet yesterday, I stumbled upon this. Naturally I read it and then sent it to someone.
    I didn't join the android fun until the ns4g, although that was only bec I survived many years without any kind of cellphone.
    Still, by this point I'm knowledgeable, so it's to learn about the pre-gb era.
    Also, I like looking at the monthly distribution charts from way back to even '11 so it's nice to see pics of the versions that were on those charts

  • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

    I would also love to see a device with the form factor something like the Nexus S, but with modern internals.

    • Scott

      Yeah the Nexus S's form factor was amazing.

  • moelsen8

    jesus christ, it's huge. can't wait to read it.

    • Scott

      26 pages!!!

  • Mark Curtis

    1,000 hours in MSPaint

  • PaulMonroeJr

    Man, I had a G1 when it first came out, and I have been riding with Android ever since. Android has come a long long long way. It almost seems like that period of time didn't happen. Looking at those screenshots just makes me excited to think about androids future

  • Will S.

    Sounds like an emotional read...

  • Matthew Fry

    I've never had Pocket take so long to download...

  • Simon Belmont

    Wonderful read. I'm still in the early stages of reading it, but the attention to detail is to be expected from good 'ol Ron.

    You can tell how long this took him. A lot of the early screenshots date back to December of last year (over 6 months of work if the dates are accurate).

  • Stanley C.

    Im a big fan of Ron. Good reviews and now this complete material about Android History is incredible!

    His G3 review is awesome!

    Congrats Ron, u are a great editor!

  • sorry

    Good work! But, TL;DR.

  • Malcolm Williams

    I read the full article. Actually it was a good article.

    I remember in 2008 when Android was a bit more flexible and anyone with a Sprint HTC Vogue had the opportunity to use early android builds prior to Android 1.0. And it really reminded me of that. In fact, one of my very first android test devices was the Sprint HTC Vogue (HTC Touch).

    I missed out on Android 1.0 and adopting Android 1.0 but I was generally intrigued with the G1 as a device. I really didn't get involved until Android 1.6 which caught a lot of interest. In some way, shape or form, I haven't stopped using Android since then. So a lot of the article was like ... wow I lived through this or wow I remember this and wow the article forgot some key things. But overall great experience.

  • https://profiles.google.com/u/0/sagarsiddhapura/about SAM

    This post is like Bible to android fans. 28 Pages of joy and fun for me. The only article I wish, was more longer.