Infographic: Tracking Updates to Android's Operating System

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New data shows that Nokia and RIM are on the outs with the smartphone industry quickly becoming a two-horse race. It's Apple vs. Android and "an era where anyone with a keyboard and some apps could make it in the world marketplace is over," notes TechCrunch's John Biggs. "I'd call this, now, the Age of Fragmentation -- new devices are overlapping each other from both sides of the fence as users wait for new iPhones and swear that the next HTC, Samsung, or Motorola Android phone will be better than an undifferentiated predecessor."

To keep its audience happy, Android -- controlled by Google since a takeover in August 2005 -- has been pushing out new iterations of its popular operating system every few months since releasing its first, Cupcake, in 2009. This infographic from mobile apps developers [x]cubelabs shows all of the updates that the dessert-themed system has received over the past couple of years.

Infographics are always a bit of a hodgepodge of statistics culled from a variety of sources. Here, we sort through the clutter and pull out some of our favorite facts and figures:

  • Android Inc. was founded in Palo Alto, California, in October 2003 by Andy Rubin, Nick Sears, Chris White and Rich Miner. It was acquired by Google less than two years later, in August 2005.
  • The first Android device, the HTC Dream (G1), was released on September 23, 2008. It offered integration with Google Services, a Web browser to short and pan full HTML and XHTML, the Android Market app for downloads and updates, and instant messaging capabilities.
  • In April 2009, Android 1.5 (Cupcake) was released. It offered consumers a faster camera start-up and image capture, faster acquisition of GPS location data, on-screen soft keyboard, and could directly upload videos to YouTube and Picasa.
  • Only five months later, Android 1.6 (Donut) was released and, a month after that, Android 2.0 (Eclair) hit the market. Based on Linux kernel 2.6.29, the 2.0 SDK featured multiple accounts for email and contact synchronization, Microsoft Exchange support for the syncing of email, Bluetooth 2.1 support, new calendar features, and a new browser user interface and support for HTML5.
  • Android continued to improve upon Eclair with the 2.0.1 SDK, the 2.1 SDK and Android 2.2 (Froyo) and Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) until May 2011, when Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) was released. This version of Android is specifically optimized for tablets and devices with larger screen sizes, offers Bluetooth tethering, has built-in support for media/picture transfer protocol, and has refined multitasking.

Check out more Infographics on the Technology Channel.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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