When will Android L be released?

All Android versions at a glance

Google's Android versions have already spelled their way through half the alphabet. More important than the names, however, are the innovations that each version brings with it. In this practical tip, we will introduce you to what these were and what the current Android version can do.

The latest version of Android

At the moment, Android 11 is the latest version of Google's mobile operating system. If you have a comparatively new device, you can usually update to Android 11.

  • Android 1.0: The first Android appeared in 2008. The first Google apps such as YouTube and Gmail were also preinstalled back then.
  • Android 2.0-5.0: The operating system has evolved over the years. Nowadays, however, hardly anyone uses a smartphone with these old versions.
  • Android 6.0: Android 6.0 is also getting a bit old, but is still used on many devices. With the release in 2015, fingerprint sensors and the nowadays common USB-C connection were supported for the first time.
  • Android 7.0: In 2016, Android brought the split-screen mode for the first time. This allowed two apps to run and be displayed in parallel.
  • Android 8.0: In 2017, the split-screen mode developed further. Compatible apps could now also use the picture-in-picture mode. In contrast to the split screen, the selected app only takes up a very small part of the display and can be positioned anywhere.
  • Android 9.0: The year 2018 was the year of the so-called notch. In order to build displays that are as borderless as possible, many manufacturers have let the front cameras protrude into the display. Android also had a software solution for this.
  • Android 10.0: The current Android version 10.0 was released in 2019. In addition to the system-wide dark mode, Google has also worked hard on gesture control.
  • Android 11.0: As with the previous version, Android 11 does not have a name affix. The OS was released on September 8, 2020. Among other things, Android now supports 5G cellular networks for the first time and has a native screen recording

Which Android version do I have installed?

The current Android version usually appears between August and September. However, it always takes several months for the numerous manufacturers to provide an update for their devices. Most companies provide their models with updates for two to three years. Here we show you how to find out which Android version you are using and whether an update is possible:

  • First open the "Settings"App on your Android smartphone.
  • Scroll down to the very bottom and, depending on the device, you will find the category "About the device"or"Telephone info".
  • You will now find the currently installed Android version here.
  • In the area "Software update"or"System update"you can check for the latest updates and install them if necessary.

General information about the current Android versions

Android is the mobile operating system of the tech giant Google. It is the direct competitor to Apple's iOS and the most popular smartphone OS worldwide.

  • Since Android 1.5 (mid-2009), the names of the main versions are based on candy.
  • The first letter of each Android main version is ascending in the alphabet and at the same time the first letter of a corresponding candy that is linked to the Android version.
  • Since the Android 10 Q version, however, the letter alone has been linked to the Android version for the first time, and Google no longer wanted to add a candy with Q.
  • With each major version of Android, the design of the user interface is also being redesigned.

Android version 1.0: "Base"

  • On September 23, 2008 the first Android operating system, called "Base", saw the light of day.
  • Even then there were apps such as "Google Maps", "Gmail" and "Youtube". These continue to enjoy enormous popularity.

Android version 1.1: "Base_1.1"

  • On February 10th, 2009 the first update of "Base" was published.
  • It was called "Base_1.1" and came with some innovations. Among other things, it was possible to save MMS attachments for the first time.

Android version 1.5: "Cupcake"

  • From now on, all future Android versions will be named after candy. The first letter in the alphabet is ascending. Although the first two Android versions were not provided with letters, the order was taken into account. So the third Android version also gets the third letter "c".
  • On April 30th, 2009 "Cupcake" was released as Android version 1.5.
  • Well-known innovations at that time included the automatic change between portrait and landscape format and a dedicated screen keyboard.

Android version 1.6: "Donut"

  • From September 15th, 2009 the Android version 1.6 alias "Donut" was available via update.
  • One major change was that from now on VPNs can be configured for more privacy while surfing.

Android version 2.0-2.1: "Éclair"

As of Android version 2.0, a new major version was no longer automatically published with every system update. Instead, there have been several sub-versions for each major version since October 2009, which are supposed to make optimizations, but still bear the name of the major version.

  • On October 26th, 2009 Android 2.0 alias "Éclair" was released as an update. In this version, the digital zoom was introduced in the camera app, as well as the support of LED flash light as hardware.
  • Android version 2.0.1 was released on December 3rd, 2009, in which some errors were corrected. The name "Éclair" remained unchanged.
  • Another update to version 2.1 was released on January 7th, 2010. This made animated background images, the so-called "live backgrounds", possible. Instead of a single image, a moving image, an animation, or even a video can be set as the background. Incidentally, that still works today.

Android version 2.2: "Froyo"

This Android main version 2.2 was released on May 20th, 2010 and has made some improvements. Starting with this version, a working memory with a capacity of up to 256 Mbytes could be built into a cell phone. In addition, apps can now be moved to an external micro SD card.

  • With the update to Android version 2.2.1 in September 2010, some bug fixes were made.
  • The last Froyo version appeared in January 2011 as Android 2.2.2 and, among other things, fixed an SMS bug.

Android version 2.3: "Gingerbread"

On December 6th, 2010 Android 2.3 aka "Gingerbread" was released. As of this Android version, "Near Field Communication" (NFC) is supported and an in-house download manager has been added.

  • Also in December 2010, Android 2.3.1 was released, which made some bug fixes as well as the update to Google Maps 5.0.
  • In January 2011, Android 2.3.2 was released, in which an SMS bug was also fixed.
  • Android 2.3.3 was released on 02/23/2011 and ensured, among other things, that Android devices were regularly equipped with dual-core processors for more performance from now on.
  • On April 29, 2011, the "Google Talk" app was introduced with the update to 2.3.4, with which video and voice chat is possible.
  • Android 2.3.5 was released on July 8th, 2011 and provided further bug fixes. With the two subsequent Android versions 2.3.6 (02.09.2011) and 2.3.7 (20.09.2011) further errors in the system were fixed.

Android version 3.x: "Honeycomb"

As of February 23, 2011, "Gingerbread" has been replaced by the new Android version 3.0, alias "Honeycomb". A new, user-friendly interface has been incorporated and an optimization for tablets has been made. In addition, the Google Chrome browser has been equipped with new functions (for example incognito mode).

  • The first update from "Honeycomb" to Android 3.1 followed on May 10th, 2011. Among other things, a USB host mode has been added and improvements to the user interface and widgets have been made.
  • Android 3.2 followed on July 16, 2011. The main focus here was on optimizing the display for different screen diagonals.
  • The last Honeycomb version 3.2.1 made further error corrections on September 20, 2011.

Android version 4.0: "Ice Cream Sandwich"

From October 19th, 2011 Android 4.0 alias "Ice Cream Sandwich" (ICS) was released. Among other things, the unlocking via 2D face recognition has been added and many detail improvements have been made.

  • Version 4.0.1 was released on November 17, 2011, in which mainly a volume setting error has been fixed.
  • In version 4.0.2, further improvements (for example a new unlocking optics) were made from December 15, 2011, and DivX support was removed.
  • The last two ICS updates 4.0.3 (December 16, 2011) and 4.0.4 (February 4, 2012) also brought further improvements. For example, in version 4.0.4, the general volume was increased.

Android version 4.1: "Jelly Bean"

On June 27th, 2012 Android 4.1 alias "Jelly Bean" was released. This update brought significant improvements to the user interface. In addition, the "Google Now" service has been integrated into the system.

  • With version 4.1.1, the Google payment service "Google Wallet" was integrated into the system on July 11, 2012.
  • From version 4.1.2 (10.10.2012), notifications could be opened and closed with a finger gesture.
  • System-wide streaming (Miracast) became possible on November 13, 2012 with version 4.2. Other security updates also followed.
  • With version 4.2.1, further bugs were fixed from November 27th, 2012.
  • Since version 4.2.2 (02/12/2013), widgets can now also be set on the lock screen.
  • With version 4.3 (07/24/2013) many more innovations were introduced. Since then, there have been limited user accounts for children and an improvement in the camera app.
  • The last update of "Jelly Bean" followed on October 4th, 2013 with version 4.3.1. Only a few bugs have been fixed in this version.

Android version 4.4: "KitKat"

On October 31, 2013 Android 4.4 alias "KitKat" was released as the successor to "Jelly Bean". The main innovation was that the restriction to five home screens was lifted. From then on, the Google+ Hangouts app could also be chosen as an alternative to the SMS app.

  • The first update to version 4.4.1 followed on December 6, 2013. The camera app has been slightly revised and minor bug fixes have been made.
  • Android 4.4.2 was released on December 9th, 2013. Mainly error corrections were made here again.
  • Version 4.4.3 was released on June 2nd, 2014. The well-known bug that often causes the data connection to drop has been fixed.
  • The last update for "KitKat" followed on June 19, 2014 with version 4.4.4.

Android version 4.4.W: "Wear"

Android 4.4.W was specially developed for Smartwatches and other wearables and is based on Android 4.4 "KitKat". It was published in June 2014. The "W" probably stands for "Wear" to draw attention to the area of ​​wearbles. In the meantime, however, this type of operating system has been replaced by its own system, Wear OS.

Android version 5: "Lollipop"

On November 3rd, 2014 Android 5.0 alias "Lollipop" was released. Here the notification bar has been redesigned. In addition, this version is now also used for most smartwatches.

  • The Android version 5.0.1 (02.12.2014) was mainly optimized for the use of "Android Wear", the direct predecessor of Wear OS.
  • On December 19, 2014, another update was released with Android 5.0.2, in which bugs have been fixed.
  • Android 5.1 has been available since March 9, 2014. Here, among other things, Stability improvements made.
  • The last Lollipop Android version 5.1.1 was released on April 22nd, 2015 and again fixed some bugs.

Android 6.0: "Marshmallow"

At the Google event on September 29, 2015, the latest Android operating system was presented to the public and gradually rolled out. In August, Google published a developer preview of Marshmallow, which already gives a good impression of the new features of Android 6.0. Anyone who owns a Nexus 5, Nexus 6 or Nexus Player could also download the final Developer Preview 3 from Marshmallow in advance. Here is a brief overview of the new features:

  • Better rights management for apps: You will only be asked for authorization when you actually use the functions of an app. In this way, you are not allowing access in advance that you may not be using at all.
  • Longer battery runtimes: Background processes are automatically terminated and no longer put a strain on the battery. Above all, the performance should be much better.
  • Faster charging through the use of the "Type C" USB standard, which not only charges faster, but also has a plug that no longer needs to be turned. However, the manufacturer must also install the corresponding hardware in its devices. In a separate article you will find out all the advantages of the new charging plug.
  • Separate volume control for notifications, media and alarm tones.
  • Support for fingerprint sensors, comparable to Apple's Touch ID. Here too, however, the following applies: thanks to software support, the manufacturer now has the option, but no compulsion, of installing appropriate hardware.

Android 7.0: Nougat

Android 7 has been officially available since August 22, 2016. In addition to the usual improvements in performance and security, there are also some major innovations.

  • Update in the background: On more recent smartphones, updates are downloaded and installed completely in the background on a second partition. The user hardly notices anything of the update.
  • Split screen: If you want to use two apps at the same time, this is no longer a problem since Android 7. In split-screen mode, two apps run in parallel on half of the screen, provided the app supports the mode.
  • Notifications: Google has worked hard on notifications. Among other things, you can now reply to WhatsApp messages directly via the notification without opening the app itself.
  • Data-saving mode: The data-saving mode has also received a major update. In the settings you can turn off the data tap for selected apps, among other things.

Android 8.0: Oreo

Android 8 has been available for download since August 21, 2017. In addition to the generally adapted look, the settings app in particular has become much clearer.

  • Speed ​​Boost: In addition to the usual optimizations, some fundamental changes should not only make the start of apps run faster, but above all the boot process when the phone is switched on.
  • Smart Text Selection: Telephone numbers, addresses or entire URLs are not always easy or quick to copy. With the Smart Text Selection, a simple double tap should be enough to copy the desired area.
  • Picture-in-picture mode: What Apple already introduced on the iPad is now also coming to Android. If an app such as YouTube or Chrome supports the function, you can keep the video running in a small image while you are using other apps.
  • App icons: The icons of apps are always static, with the exception of the clock and calendar app. Now all other app developers can also animate or dynamically design the icons.
  • Rescue Party: The new Rescue Party function is intended to help with boot loops. If the mobile phone starts over and over again due to a serious software error, the function should detect the problem and automatically put the smartphone into recovery mode.

Android 9.0: Pie

Android version 9 was released on August 6, 2018. The names Pancake and Poptart were very popular in the rumor mill. Ultimately, however, Google decided on the simplest name pie.

  • Battery intelligence: Android analyzes the usage behavior of your apps and automatically assigns frequently used apps a higher priority. This is primarily intended to save battery.
  • App intelligence: Android should also be of help when using apps. If you usually only connect your headphones to make a call, Android will recognize this behavior. In the future, the phone app will start automatically as soon as you plug in your headphones.
  • Brightness: The brightness of smartphone displays is usually automatically adjusted to the ambient light. Now you can specify in the settings whether you generally prefer something lighter and darker.
  • Little things: In addition to 157 new emojis, there are many other small changes. Here you can find all the changes from Android 9.

Android version 10.0: A "Q", but not a candy

Android version 10 has been available since September 2019. According to tradition, it is now the turn of the letter "Q". The corresponding sweet should therefore also begin with a "Q". However, Google decided to end this tradition with the round 10, among other things because of the difficulty of finding a candy with Q.

  • With Android 10, users should have more control over the permissions of their apps. Among other things, the location authorizations for individual apps can be restricted more precisely and only granted temporarily.
  • Dark modes are not only becoming more and more popular on iOS, Mac OS and Windows, Android users have also been crying out for an official dark mode for years. This was previously only possible via detours and third-party providers, now Google is providing a system-wide dark mode.
  • Whether smartphone or PC, updates are always an annoying topic. Security patches and other minor updates will be installed automatically in the background in the future. It is no longer necessary to restart the device for this.
  • You can see on which mobile phones the new functions are already available in this overview of Android 10 Q.

Android 11.0: "Android R" brings improved Bluetooth usage and reboot behavior

With Android 11, the mobile operating system has been improved again and new functions have been added. Especially exciting for many users in the Corona year 2020: The changes to the Bluetooth authorization logic:

  • Until now, Bluetooth access was integrated into location determination. Both services had to be activated in order to use Bluetooth. Now it is possible to use Bluetooth without an activated location service, which is important for using the Corona warning app.
  • Another practical feature concerns updating devices with Android 11: If you start an OS update overnight, for example, the device temporarily saves the login information in order to unlock the smartphone after a reboot and restore the status from before the restart.
  • In addition, the notification center of Android has been revised. If you press the "Lock" button on your smartphone, two lines of messages will be presented from the 11th Android version. Above are the conversations you have in various apps - including any other notifications you've turned on. This should lead to a better overview.
  • Much more information about Android 11 and an overview of the devices that will receive Android 11 can be found here at CHIP.

Video tip: Beautiful television for Android

A funny "Easter Egg" has been built into every new major version of Android. In another practical tip, we will show you where and how you can find this Easter Egg under your Android version.

(Original tip written by: Sören Handermann)