Android was first released in Sepember 2008 by internet search engine giant, Google. The premise would be that all versions would be open source and available to any developers free but phone and tablet manufacturers had to pay for a licence to put the Android operating system on to their devices. The problem with Android is that there’s far too many versions and too many devices, some devices are high powered and some are very low powered, and sometimes the device manufacturers release a phone or tablet but don’t put out updates. meaning that the phone or tablet will stay on that version unless the network or phone manufacturers release official updates.
There is also a very thriving ROM development scene on forums such as Modaco, XDA, where developers release unofficial custom ROMs to work of specific phones and tablets, the custom ROMs often work better and are stripped down to the bare bones where operator logos and bloatware is removed freeing up the phone’s internal memory.
Android versions to date:
1.5 Cupcake (April 2009)
1.6 Donut (September 2009)
2.1 Eclair (October 2009)
2.2 Froyo (May 2010)
2.3 Gingerbread (December 2010)
3.1 Honeycomb (Tablets only) (February 2011)
4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich ( October 2011)
As you can see it was very fast paced. There were earlier versions such as 1.0 which was released on a specific device and wasn’t available generally.
Android is going toe-to-toe with other operating systems such as Apple’s iOS, but the latter is a lot more restricted. As with the iOS which has its App Store, Android also has an app store called Android Market which has just been renamed to Google Play. Unlike Apple’s apps market, most of the apps in the Google Play market are free with ads.