Android Versions Guide: Everything You Need to Know

From Petit Four to Cupcake to Nougat to Android P

Picture of an assortment of Android figurines wearing costumes
These are the Androids you're looking for.

The Android operating system was introduced in February 2009 and runs on all Android smartphones and tablets. Since Android is open source, some devices have a custom version of the OS, but most have a similar look and feel and share the same functionality. Each version of the OS has a corresponding number, and since the release of Android 1.5 Cupcake in April 2009, a dessert name appended to it.

Below you'll find a history of the OS including Android version names, when each was released, and what they added to the platform.

Android 9.0 Pie

Current version: 9.0 Beta 4; released on July 25, 2018.

Screenshot of Android 9.0 P
No more home button or multitask/overview button.

The latest Android version, 9.0 Pie, adds an array of features aimed to help you use your smartphone less, including a new dashboard that helps you monitor your smartphone usage, and several ways to mute notifications when you're busy or trying to sleep. It also has features that learn from your behavior, like offering to disable notifications you frequently dismiss and giving the apps you use more often battery priority.

See our guide to Android Pie for more detail about this OS update.

Key New Features:

  • Smart replies in messaging
  • Mute notifications (other than emergencies) by placing the phone face down
  • Automatically enable Do Not Disturb at bedtime
  • Interface turns gray at bedtime to discourage use
  • Removed multitask/overview button
  • Screenshot button added to power options
  • Screenshot annotation

Android 8.0 Oreo

Final version: 8.1; released on December 5, 2017.

Initial version: Released on August 21, 2017.

Screenshot of Android 8.0 Oreo
The home screen for a Android phone running Oreo. By Google Inc., CC BY 2.5 

Android 8.0 Oreo's release coincided with Go Edition, the company's lighter OS for low-end devices. Android Go brought stock Android to cheaper devices that didn't have the storage space for the full-blown OS. It also added a few usability enhancements and fixed a controversial emoji.

Key New Features:

  • Android Oreo Go Edition introduced
  • Bluetooth battery level for connected devices in Quick Settings
  • Navigation buttons dim when not in use
  • Automatic light and dark themes
  • The cheese in the hamburger emoji was moved from the bottom to the top of the burger

Android 7.0 Nougat

Current version: 7.1.2; released on April 4, 2017.

Initial version: Released on August 22, 2016.

Screenshot of Android 7.0 Nougat's split-screen feature
Google Maps and Google Chrome running on Android Nougat.

Modified versions of the Android OS are often ahead of the curve. Android 7.0 Nougat added support for split-screen functionality, a feature that companies like Samsung already offered. It also added more inclusive emojis with more skin and hair options.

Key New Features:

  • Native split-screen support
  • Emojis with additional skin colors and hairstyles
  • Ability to add emergency information to the lock screen
  • Introduction of Daydream virtual reality platform
  • Picture-in-picture support for Android TV
  • Fingerprint sensor gesture to open/close notification shade
  • GIF support for the default keyboard
  • Battery usage alerts

Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Current version: 6.0.1; released on December 7, 2015.

Initial version: Released on October 5, 2015.

Screenshot of Android 6.0 Marshmallow
The home screen for Android Marshmallow. By Google, AOSP - User-created screenshot, Apache License 2.0

Android 6.0 Marshmallow introduced Do Not Disturb, previously known as Priority Mode. It was a vast improvement, as it enabled users to mute all notifications during a specified time or only allow alarms or priority alerts. Do Not Disturb was a boon for those sitting in meetings or tired of being awoken by buzzes on their nightstand. The other big advance was app permissions were no longer all or nothing; users could choose which permissions to allow and which to block, to better protect their privacy. Android Marshmallow was the first Android OS to support mobile payments via Android Pay, now known as Google Pay.

Key New Features:

  • Do Not Disturb mode
  • Android Pay for mobile payments
  • Google Now on Tap, a precursor to Google Assistant
  • Doze Mode keeps apps from draining the battery when the phone isn't in use
  • Native fingerprint reader support
  • App permissions granted individually
  • Automatic backup and restore for apps
  • App search bar and favorites
  • USB-C support

Android 5.0 Lollipop

Final version: 5.1.1; released on April 21, 2015.

Initial version: Released on November 12, 2014.

Note: Android 5.0 Lollipop is no longer supported by Google.

Screenshot of Android 5.0 Lollipop
Android Lollipop's home screen and default background. By NikoM - Android 5.0 "Lollipop", Apache License 2.0

Android 5.0 Lollipop introduced Google's Material Design language, which controlled the interface's look and feel and extended throughout Google's mobile apps. It also added a new way to transfer data between phones, and a security feature in which a device remains locked until the owner signs into their Google account, even if the thief manages to reset the device to factory settings. Finally, Smart Lock kept your phone from locking when you're in a trusted place such as at home or at work, or when its connected to a trusted device, like a smartwatch or Bluetooth speaker.

Key New Features:

  • Notification access on the lock screen
  • App and notification settings accessible from the lock screen
  • Smart Lock kept your phone from locking in certain scenarios
  • Search within the settings app
  • Recently used apps remembered after restart
  • Tap and Go for transferring data from one device to another
  • Multiple SIM card support
  • Native support for Wi-Fi calling
  • Flashlight application

Dropped Support for:

  • Widgets on the lock screen

Android 4.4 KitKat

Final version: 4.4.4; released on June 19, 2014.

Initial version: Released on October 31, 2013.

Note: Android 4.4 KitKat is no longer supported by Google.

Screenshot of Android 5.0 Lollipop
Android KitKat and it's successor, Lollipop, share aesthetics. By NikoM - Android 5.0 "Lollipop", Apache License 2.0

Android KitKat's code name was Key Lime Pie; the Android team thought key lime pie was an unfamiliar taste for the masses, though, and went with KitKat instead. Android and Nestle made a deal, and it was so hush-hush that many Googlers didn't know about it until the company unveiled the KitKat statue at the company's Silicon Valley campus.

The update included expanded device support compared to previous versions of the OS and included the release of Wear OS by Google. The Wear OS updates (4.4W) were exclusive to smartwatches and released on June 25, 2014. The last update (4.4W.2) released on October 21, 2014.

Key New Features:

  • Wear OS for smartwatches (4.4W)
  • GPS and Bluetooth music support for smartwatches (4.4W.2)
  • Users could set defaults for text messaging and launcher apps
  • Wireless printing

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

Final version: 4.3.1; released on October 3, 2013.

Initial version: Released on July 9, 2012.

Note: Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is no longer supported by Google.

Screenshot of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
Android 4.1 maintained Android 4.0's appearance. By Android Open Source project, CC BY 2.5

Android Jelly Bean continued the trend of enhancing notification options, including custom app notifications. It also added Actionable Notifications for more applications, which allowed users to respond to notifications without launching the corresponding app. The update also included several accessibility improvements such as triple-tapping to magnify the screen, two-finger gestures, Text-to-speech output, and Gesture Mode navigation for blind users.

Key New Features:

  • Expandable notifications
  • Ability to turn off notifications app-by-app
  • Third party launchers can add widgets without root access
  • Swipe from the lock screen to launch the camera
  • Multiple user accounts for tablets
  • Group messaging
  • Native emoji support
  • New clock app with world clock, stopwatch, and timer

Dropped Support for:

  • Adobe Flash

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

Final version: 4.0.4; released on March 29, 2012.

Initial version: Released on October 18, 2011.

Note: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is no longer supported by Google.

Screenshot of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Android 4.0, featuring a subtle clock on the home screen. By Android Open Source project, CC BY 2.5

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich added a few functionalities that are now ubiquitous, like screenshot capture, a Face Unlock feature, and a built-in photo editor. It also introduced Android Beam, enabling users to tap the back of their phones together to share photos, videos, contact information, and other data using NFC.

On March 6, 2012, the Google Play store was announced, merging the Android Market, Google Music, and the Google eBookstore together. This update rolled out to devices running Android 2.2 or later.

Key New Features:

  • Pinch and zoom functionality in calendar
  • Screenshot capture
  • Apps were accessible from the lock screen
  • Face Unlock
  • Users could set data limits in settings to avoid overages
  • Built-in photo editor
  • Android Beam

Android 3.0 Honeycomb

Final version: 3.2.6; released in February 2012.

Initial version: Released on February 22, 2011.

Note: Android 3.0 Honeycomb is no longer supported by Google.

Screenshot of Android 3.0 Honeycomb
Android Honeycomb was the first of its kind. By Android Open Source project, CC BY 2.5

Android Honeycomb was a tablet-only OS and added features to make the Android interface compatible with larger screens; some features are still available today, like Recent Applications. 

Key New Features:

  • First tablet-only OS update
  • System Bar: quick access to notifications and other information at the bottom of the screen
  • Action Bar: navigation, widgets, and other content at the top of the screen
  • Recent Applications button in System Bar aided with multitasking
  • Redesigned keyboard for larger screen sizes
  • Browser tabs and Incognito mode
  • Resizable home screen widgets

Android 2.3 Gingerbread

Final version: 2.3.7; released on September 21, 2011.

Initial version: Released on December 6, 2010.

Note: Android 2.3 Gingerbread is no longer supported by Google.

Android 2.3 Gingerbread screenshot
Android Gingerbread's stylish home screen.  By Android Developers - Android SDK, Apache License 2.0

Android 2.3 Gingerbread brought a handful of enhancements including NFC and multiple camera support. It was also the first OS update to feature an Easter Egg, which was a Droid standing next to a zombie gingerbread man, with a bunch of zombies in the background.

This update also brought us Google Talk, often referred to as Google Chat, Gchat, and a few other names. Now it's been replaced by Google Hangouts, but people still tend to call it Gchat.

Key New Features:

  • Faster, and more accurate virtual keyboard
  • NFC support
  • Multi-camera support, including front-facing (selfie) camera
  • Google Talk voice and video chat support
  • A more efficient battery

Android 2.2 Froyo

Final version: 2.2.3; released on November 21, 2011.

Initial version: Released on May 20, 2010.

Note: Android 2.2 Froyo is no longer supported by Google.

Screenshot of Android 2.2 Froyo
The Android Froyo default home screen, featuring the Droid mascot.  By LR Guanzon - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Android Froyo added a function that many of us now take for granted: push notifications in which an app can send an alert regardless of whether it's in use or if it's even open.

Key New Features:

  • Push notifications
  • USB tethering and Wi-Fi hotspot functionality
  • Adobe Flash support
  • Ability to disable data services

Android 2.0 Éclair

Final version: 2.1; released on January 12, 2012.

Initial version: Released on October 26, 2009.

Note: Android 2.0 Éclair is no longer supported by Google.

Screenshot of Android 2.0 Éclair
The Éclair home screen, which greatly resembles its predecessor. By Android Developers - Android SDK, Public Domain 

Android 2.0 Éclair added support for more screen sizes and resolutions, and some basic functionality such as tapping a contact to make a call or compose a text message.

Key New Features:

  • Tap a contact to make a call or send a text
  • An array of camera features, including flash support and scene mode
  • Live wallpaper
  • Searchable SMS and MMS history
  • Microsoft Exchange email support
  • Bluetooth 2.1 support

Android 1.6 Donut

Initial & final version: Released on September 15, 2009.

Note: Android 1.6 Donut is no longer supported by Google.

Screenshot of Android 2.0 Éclair
Android Donut's home screen, featuring Messaging, Dialer, Contacts, and Browser apps. By Android Developers - Android SDK, Public Domain

Android Donut added some usability-related enhancements to the OS, including better search and photo gallery improvements.

Key New Features:

  • Improved search functions throughout the OS
  • Photo gallery and camera more tightly integrated
  • Text-to-speech functionality

Android 1.5 Cupcake

Initial & final version: Released on April 27, 2009.

Note: Android 1.5 Cupcake is no longer supported by Google.

Screenshot of Android 1.5 Cupcake
The Android Cupcake home screen, now nine years old. By Android Police - Android Police, CC BY-SA 4.0

Android 1.5 Cupcake is the first version of the OS to have an official dessert name and introduced a touch keyboard and a few interface enhancements.

Key New Features:

  • Onscreen keyboard and support for third-party keyboard apps
  • Widget support
  • Copy and paste available in the web browser

Android 1.0 (No Nickname)

Final version: 1.1; released on September 23, 2008, and called Petit Four internally.

Initial version: Released on February 9, 2009.

Note: Android 1.0 is no longer supported by Google.

The first Android smartphone, the HTC Dream, also known as the T-Mobile G1 in the United States, shipped with Android 1.0, which did not yet have a confectionary nickname. The HTC Dream also came to market in September 2008; in the U.S., the phone was exclusive to T-Mobile. It had a slide-out keyboard instead of an onscreen one, and clickable trackball for navigation. At the time, the Android Market was where you got apps.

Key New Features:

  • Open-source operating system
  • Notification panel