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 Android is 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 since the release of Android 1.5 Cupcake in April 2009, a dessert name appended to it.

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

Below you'll find 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 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'll get this OS update.

Some features are exclusive to the Pixel line of smartphones, including an AR-location sharing feature and that more chat apps 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 can recognize 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 now brings up more options, including Google Pay and smart home controls.

Finally, Android 11 continues to enhance privacy features. When an app asks for location, microphone, or camera access, the choice is to allow it while using the app or 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 Android 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 is the latest Android version (formerly known as Android Q) and adds support for foldable phones following the release of the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X. 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 will send 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 will 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 will offer to disable notifications you frequently dismiss and give battery priority to the apps you use most often.

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

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 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

  • 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 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 people tired of being awoken by buzzes on their nightstand or during a work meeting. The other significant advance was in-app permissions. Users could choose which permissions to allow and which to block, rather than enabling all of them. 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
  • 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 introduced Google's Material Design language, which controlled the interface's look and extended throughout Google's mobile apps. It added a new way to transfer data between phones. Lollipop also introduced 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 in a trusted place such as 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 kept 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 included expanded device support compared to previous versions of the OS and the release of Wear OS (formerly Android Wear) by Google. The Wear OS updates (4.4W) were exclusive to smartwatches and released on June 25, 2014. The last update (4.4W.2) was 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.

Google no longer supports Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

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
  • 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 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, which enabled 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 Google eBookstore. This update rolled 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 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.

Google no longer supports Android 3.0 Honeycomb.

Android 3.0 Honeycomb

Android Honeycomb was a tablet-only OS that added 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 brought a handful of enhancements, including NFC and multiple camera support. It was 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 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.

Google no longer supports Android 2.2 Froyo.

Android 2.2 Froyo

Android Froyo added 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 added 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 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.

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 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.

Google no longer supports Android 1.0.

In September 2008, the first Android smartphone shipped with Android 1.0, which didn't have a confectionary nickname. In the U.S., the HTC Dream was exclusive to T-Mobile and known as the T-Mobile G1. 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