Android Versions Guide: Everything You Need to Know

Plus, what is the current version of Android?

The Android operating system, introduced in February 2009, runs on all Android smartphones and tablets. Since it's open-source, some devices have a custom version of the operating system (OS), but most have a similar look and feel and share the same functionality. Each version of the OS has a corresponding number, and each had its own dessert codename up until Android 10, such as Cupcake, KitKat, Lollipop, etc.

Don't know which version of Android you have? Go to Settings > About phone > Android version. If you have an old version, learn how to update it.

Below is a history of the operating system from the beginning to the current Android version, including Android OS names, when each was released, and what they added to the platform.

Android 12

Current version: 12.0 (developer preview); released on February 18, 2021.

Google released the developer version of Android 12 in early 2021 to give app developers a head start on preparing for the final release later in the year. The latest update includes many new features to help developers, including compatible media transcoding, rich content insertion, support for the AVIF image format, and easier debugging.

Several subtle changes have been made to the user interface. Most notably, the menu screens have a light-blue tint, which is easier on the eyes than the old white background. Users have more font options for texting, and there's a built-in tool for editing screenshots.

Anroid 12 logo

Google

Android developer previews are only supported on Google Pixel devices but can be sideloaded onto other devices. Although a stable build is expected in May 2021, the rollout will likely be gradual and limited to specific devices at first.

Key New Features

  • Improved gesture navigation for immersive mode.
  • Better optimization for foldable devices and TVs.
  • Audio-coupled haptic effect.
  • Faster, more responsive notifications.
  • Untrusted touch event blocking for enhanced security.
  • New MAC address restrictions for enhanced privacy.

Android 11

Current version: 11.0; released on September 11, 2020.

Android 11 got a wider release than past versions, with OnePlus, Xiaomi, Oppo, and Realme joining the Google Pixel in getting first dibs. If you have a Pixel 2 or later, you likely got this OS update.

Some features are exclusive to the Pixel line of smartphones, including an AR-location sharing feature and more chat apps that can access Google's Smart Reply functionality.

Features available to all users (with an upgradeable phone) include improved chat notifications and tighter location permissions.

Android 11 groups notifications from messaging apps into a Conversations section at the top of the notification shade. It recognizes different message threads, and you can set one as a Priority Conversation to get enhanced notifications. Similarly, you can mute notifications for specific threads if they're blowing up your phone.

Another messaging feature is Bubbles. If you've used Facebook Messenger's Chat Heads, this is much the same. You can take a conversation and let it float above other apps; when you minimize it, the bubble moves to the screen's side. Best of all, you can have more than one bubble going at once if you're chatting in different apps.

Android 11 screens showing new chat features.

Long pressing the power button brings up more options in Android 11, including Google Pay and smart home controls.

Finally, Android 11 enhances privacy features. When an app asks for location, microphone, or camera access, you can choose to allow it while using the app or allow it for one-time only.

Finally, if you haven't used an app in a long time, Android 11 automatically resets the app's permissions.

Key New Features

  • Improved messaging notifications.
  • "Chat heads" style feature for messaging apps.
  • Easier access to Google Pay.
  • Quick access to smart home controls.
  • Tighter location permissions.
  • Permissions expire for unused apps.

Android 10

Current version: 10.0; released on September 3, 2019.

Android Q beta features
Android

Android 10 (formerly known as Android Q) adds support for foldable phones. It also supports 5G wireless. Google worked with the Deaf community to create Live Caption, which automatically captions audio playing on a smartphone. Once Live Caption detects speech, it adds captions, and it can do so offline. A new Focus mode lets you silence distracting apps when you need a break.

Smart Reply can detect your next move, so if you tap an address, the phone opens Google Maps. Android 10 adds privacy and location sections to your settings. You can also choose to share location data only when you're using an app. Plus, Android sends alerts to remind you when you're sharing your location. Another new setting is Digital Wellbeing and parental controls, which integrates Google Family Link with the smartphone usage dashboard introduced with Android Pie. Finally, security updates happen in the background, so you won't need to reboot.

Key New Features

  • Support for foldable phones.
  • 5G support.
  • Live Caption.
  • Focus mode.
  • More transparent privacy and location settings.
  • Parental controls on all Android phones going forward.

Android 9.0 Pie

Current version: 9.0; released on August 6, 2018.

Initial version: Released on August 6, 2018.

Android Pie's Digital Wellbeing dashboards

Android 9.0 Pie aims to help you use your smartphone less. It adds a dashboard that monitors your usage and several ways to mute notifications when you're busy or trying to sleep. The OS also learns from your behavior. For example, it offers to disable notifications you frequently dismiss and gives battery priority to the apps you use most often.

Key New Features

  • Digital Wellbeing dashboard.
  • 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 usage.
  • 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.

Android 8.0 Oreo

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 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 moved from the bottom to the top of the burger.

Android 7.0 Nougat

Google no longer supports Android 7.0 Nougat.

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

Initial version: Released on August 22, 2016.

Android 7.0 Nougat

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

Key New Features

  • Built-in 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

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

Initial version: Released on October 5, 2015.

Google no longer supports Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Android 6.0 Marshmallow introduces Do Not Disturb, previously known as Priority Mode. It enables users to mute all notifications during a specified time or only allow alarms or priority alerts. Do Not Disturb is a boon for people tired of being awoken by buzzes on their nightstand or during a work meeting. The other significant advance is in-app permissions. Users can choose which permissions to allow and which to block, rather than enabling all of them. Android Marshmallow is 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.
  • Built-in 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.

Google no longer supports Android 5.0 Lollipop.

Android 5.0 Lollipop

Android 5.0 Lollipop introduces Google's Material Design language, which controls the interface's look and extends throughout Google's mobile apps. It adds a new way to transfer data between phones. Lollipop also introduces a security feature where 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 keeps your phone from locking when in a trusted place such as your home or work, or when it's 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 keeps your phone from locking in specific scenarios.
  • Search within the settings app.
  • Recently used apps remembered after a restart.
  • Tap and Go for transferring data from one device to another.
  • Multiple SIM card support.
  • Built-in 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.

Google no longer supports Android 4.4 KitKat.

Android 4.4 KitKat

Android 4.4's code name was Key Lime Pie. However, the Android team thought that key lime pie was an unfamiliar taste for the masses and went with KitKat, named after a Nestle candy bar, instead. The deal between Android and Nestle was so hush-hush that many Googlers didn't know about it until the unveiling of the KitKat statue at the company's Silicon Valley campus.

The update includes expanded device support compared to previous versions of the OS and the release of Wear (formerly Android Wear) by Google. The Wear updates (4.4W) are exclusive to smartwatches and released on June 25, 2014.

Key New Features

  • Wear 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.

Google no longer supports Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

Android Jelly Bean continues the trend of enhancing notification options, including custom app notifications. It also adds Actionable Notifications for more applications, which allowed users to respond to notifications without launching the corresponding app. The update also includes 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.
  • Built-in 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.

Google no longer supports Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

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

The Google Play store is announced on March 6, 2012, merging the Android Market, Google Music, and Google eBookstore. This update rolls out to devices running Android 2.2 or later.

Key New Features

  • Pinch and zoom functionality in the calendar.
  • Screenshot capture.
  • Apps were accessible from the lock screen.
  • Face Unlock.
  • Users can 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.

Google no longer supports Android 3.0 Honeycomb.

Android 3.0 Honeycomb

Android Honeycomb is a tablet-only OS that adds features to make the Android interface compatible with larger screens. Some elements remain available, 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.

Google no longer supports Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

Android 2.3 Gingerbread

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

This update also brings us Google Talk, often referred to as Google Chat, Gchat, and a few other names. It was 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.

Google no longer supports Android 2.2 Froyo.

Android 2.2 Froyo

Android Froyo adds a function that many of us now take for granted—push notifications—in which apps can send alerts even when they're not 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.

Google no longer supports Android 2.0 Éclair.

Android 2.0 Éclair

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

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.

Google no longer supports Android 1.6 Donut.

Android 1.6 Donut

Android Donut adds 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.

Google no longer supports Android 1.5 Cupcake.

Android 1.5 Cupcake

Android 1.5 Cupcake is the first version of the OS to have an official dessert name and introduces 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.

Google no longer supports Android 1.0.

In September 2008, the first Android smartphone ships with Android 1.0, which doesn't have a confectionary nickname. In the U.S., the HTC Dream is exclusive to T-Mobile and known as the T-Mobile G1. It has a slide-out keyboard instead of an onscreen keyboard and a clickable trackball for navigation. At the time, the Android Market is where you got apps.

Key New Features:

  • Open-source operating system.
  • Notification panel.
Was this page helpful?