Android's On Early Days
As the first Android phones started to trickle out, led by the T-Mobile-branded, HTC-made, Google-backed G1, the first hints were starting to appear that Android was heading to be a very big-deal indeed.
In the second part of our Android History series, we will look at the impact of the T-Mobile G1 launch, the nuts and bolts of Android’s open-source model and early UI designs, and the collaboration with Verizon that offered us “Droid.” And we’ll talk to a leading executive who oversaw the arrival of the G1. Read on to learn all about Android’s early days.
The T-Mobile G1 arrives
The T-Mobile G1 (or HTC Dream exterior of the United States) changed everything when it comes to mobile. Just like the Palm Treo, or original iPhone, minus the G1 the way we do all the things we do on our smartphones would be different and likely not almost of the same quality without it.
Application, not hardware, would set the G1 apart.
Not necessarily because the G1 had great hardware, or awesome specs or things like a professional camera or amazing screen. The hardware was chunky, mostly due to moving and swivelling Sidekick-esque computer keyboard, and the condition included a chin on the bottom that you either loved or hated. Actual physical buttons for Android navigation ‘menu, home and back’ as well as answering calls and a clickable trackball were tough to get used to for a lot of, but proved helpful well and were a required part of browsing through through Android Cupcake.
Typically the keyboard ‘in 2008 most good devices still had one’ was excellent for typing together wonderful chicklet keys as well as dedicated quantity and function keys. Whether or not that you were sending a textual content or answering an email, or hacking away at Android (the G1 was purposefully easy to boot loader unlock and root) the keyboard was excellent.
Typically the way it was built, and those things it was built out of, were good enough in their day, but that’s not what was special about the G1.
That would be the software.
The G1, being the initial consumer device ever to operate Android, removed the beast that is Google after the face of mobile technology.
Typically the G1 was released with little fanfare, and only in a select few 3G markets from T-Mobile in the US. Around the world was also an odd release, with the telephone being marketed and sold as the HTC Fantasy, with HTC having a bit more control over things than with “Google-branded” G1s. This particular was a forbearer of things to have Android OS phones, where the open-source operating system was given away by rules in place for vendors who wanted access to Google’s services and application store. This was also the beginning of “fragmentation, inches as not all models were updated to Google android 1. 6. Ask your friends in Canada about that one.
Only Google was best positioned to create both the operating system and the services.
Although the shipping software ‘Android 1. 0 (no scrumptious codename attached)’ on the G1 experienced somewhat of an unfinished feel, you could explain to Google had big plans for Android. As it was, there were a few places where the software already shined when compared against the opposition. Things we take for granted and everybody now includes ‘widgets, notification areas that slide out when you need them plus more’ were present and worked well. And a reliable and centralized over-the-air update system promised a way to make it all better as newer versions of the working system rolled out. Even in in 2008, Google noticed that the future of mobile and the future of the web were going to intersect in a major way.
Perhaps the main thing, both to Google and the consumer, was that Android promised to be a delivery method for services and apps that could be widely used and distributed. While Palm and Apple knew this, only Google was poised to both create the operating system as well as provide the services, and getting Android into as many hands as possible was a smart business decision.
As for HTC, the G1 maker had plenty of experience partnering with big brands leading up to its involvement with Android. Since HTC America President Jerr Mackenzie explains, “making big bets around direction had not been a foreign concept to us. And it proceeds to be something we are going to comfortable with. “
“We’d built a reputation as a business with a rich knowledge and experience around design [… ] That also performed into why Google needed to work with HTC. “
HTC Europe’s Services Director, Graham Wheeler, has a similar take: inch[HTC] has been referred to as people who do things differently and pioneer and drive things forwards. An engineering company that can do the unachievable and unimaginable. So when Yahoo was buying a partner [for the G1] I hope one of the considerations was the innovation going forward. inches
“Making big bets around direction wasn’t a foreign concept to us. inches
Today the green Android robot, formally “Bugdroid, “ is the public face of the Android OS brand. But that was not always the situation. The first Android robot designs were considerably wackier, received from Lalu Morrill, then a part of the Android team included in developer relations. As Morrill explained on Google+ in 2013: “I took a much-needed break of a couple hours and invested some quality time with Inkscape to generate these… things. “
“I had no eye candies for the slides i was putting together. Hence these guys. inches
“See, we were prepping for an interior developer launch (meaning, we were going to ask Googlers to get started on fooling with the APIs and give us early feedback), and I had no attention candy for the slideshow we were putting together. Hence these guys. inches
“They a new brief flurry of minor popularity amidst the team – enough to pick up the nickname “Dandroids”, anyway. But then Irina Blok (as I recall) presented her work: the bugdroid we all know and love. [… ] These guys have the distinction of being the first propOSed mascots for Android OS (that I’m aware about, at least. )”
Cupcake and Donut
A minor OPERATING SYSTEM update, Android 1. 1, was released for the T-Mobile G1 in February 2009. But the first major updates to Android OS after the initial release were versions one 5 (Cupcake) and 1 ) 6th (Donut). These established the trend of naming Google android versions after “sweet snacks, “ while also bringing out some of the key highlights of modern Android as we know it today.
Cupcake paved the way for touchscreen-only Android phones.
Released in April 2009, Cupcake paved the way for touchscreen-only Android phones with a pre-installed on-screen keyboard, and support for third-party keyboards. The particular Android launcher also received somewhat more useful with the first home display screen widgets, while basic video clip recording functions came to the camera app.
Afterwards that year, Donut put the groundwork permanently greater variety in Android hardware, with support for different show resolutions and densities, and native support for CDMA networks necessary for Verizon and Sprint in America. Google android 1. 6’s little research container also brought Google’s quest statement of “organizing the world’s information” to smartphones, with the ability to search not only the web, but contacts, audio, software and software data from one core location.
Meanwhile, the new battery consumption screen allowed users to see a rough breakdown of exactly where their strength was going.
Cupcake and Donut also brought about improvements to many of the built-in Google programs like Android Market and Gmail. It’s worth recalling that in the early days of Android, these were very much part of the OS. Even minor changes to the browser, mail client or calendar app would demand a firmware update, which would have to pass through Google, the manufacturer and (potentially) the carrier before being pushed out. It could take a few more years before Google could start thinking about splitting out its own applications and handling updates through the Play Store.
Donut put the groundwork for actually more variety in Android hardware.
By the finish of 2009, Android seemed to be making advances in areas of speech recognition and text-to-speech. Cupcake introduced the speech recognition API, while Donut included the “Pico” text-to-speech engine. These two features would eventually develop into the rich tone of voice interactions we realize in present-day Android.
The Android just one. 5-1. 6 era was also the beginning of manufacturers starting to modify Android, bringing their own look and feel to the base OS. And in a lot of ways Android, like Home windows Mobile before it, kind of needed it. HTC introduced its Sense UI arguably the best at the time to make Android more user friendly. Other OEMs followed suit Sony Ericsson topped Android 1. 6 having its own Timescape UI and Samsung developed its TouchWiz experience that continues to evolve today.
As much as Android purists deride manufacturer “skins” today, the need for manufacturer modification (and augmentation) atop Google’s code was very real in the OS’s earliest days.
The early images of Google android
In contrast to iOS (and eventually Windows Phone), Android didn’t adopt a strong design language of its own until relatively late into its life.
Early Android OS had a basic, functional look to it a visible style born out of the experimentation of numerous “milestone” builds in 2007 and 2008. Google android went from having a BlackBerry-style Iphone app dock and dark status bar to a lighter, airier theme with a recognizable Iphone app drawer.
Regardless, early Android still looked and sensed like an OS designed by engineers, and many of the icons and graphics used back then seemed like we were holding cut from an early-2000s pc OS. Graphics were unavoidably low-res (on account of the phone displays of the time) however they looked rooted in the earlier, not the future.
For example , check out the 90s-style office phone icon, and shaded, isometric icons used elsewhere. Plus the liberal use of Windows-style bezels provided buttons and interactions a clunky, old-fashioned feel. iOS, by contrast, sported a skeuomorphic look in places (emulating the appearance of the physical controls the touch-only experience replaced), but there seemed to be a more firm hand on the design rudder, with an individual can software that took strong tips from Apple’s well-established pc Mac OS.
Once finished, the basic look and feel of Android did not change much right upwards to version second 0.2, Froyo.
What’s also striking is how little the basic look and feel of stock Android changed from the initial 1. zero release up to version 2.2, Froyo released more than a year-and-a-half later. Only the later releases of Gingerbread, Honeycomb and eventually Ice Cream Sandwich, and the hiring of former Palm designer Matias Duarte, would gradually bring about a Google with design at its heart.
Nevertheless that’s a story another time.
Android is well-known as an open-source working system, meaning anyone can download the Android source code and create their own version of the OS. And the Android Available Source Project (AOSP) is how that’s done. When Google is done establishing Android internally, it’s widely released through AOSP, allowing anyone from big manufacturers to hobbyist developers to tinker with the program code.
However you need some checks and balances to keep up compatibility across devices, and that is where the Android Match ups Program comes in. Inside order to receive documentation and get approval to use Google’s suite of mobile services (including the Play Store, Google Play Services and other important stuff), manufacturers’ builds of Android must pass match ups tests. This really is Google’s way of ensuring that everything with access to their iPhone app marketplace is suitable with the software on there.
AOSP also makes it also possible to use Android without Yahoo stuff services, programs or compatibility checks and that’s what Amazon does with its line of “Fire” products.
While the core Android OPERATING-SYSTEM is open-source, much of what you might think of as Android is not.
While the key Android OS is open-source, much of what you might think of as Android is not. The particular Google applications bundled on most Android phones sold in the West are closed-source. And as Google has moved Android’s core programs to the Play Shop, and integrated its own services with these, the open-source software have slowly faded from “stock” Android devices. (For example, Music has become Play Music, and the stock Gallery Iphone app has become Google PhotOS. )
When it comes to Google Android however, the best OEMs do get a head-start on everyone else. Nexus manufacturers work with Google before the public release of each Android version, thereby get code in advance. And significantly the same goes for the big players in the Android world without current Nexus phones or tablets, like Samsung. Since Google has opened upwards to developers with preview builds of upcoming Android OS releases (like it did with Lollipop and Marshmallow), it is . been able to share more with device makers behind the scenes. And that is an important part of tackling the condition of keeping existing devices up to date with new releases.
Exactly what do you still do with a google 1. x telephone?
While we wax musical about Android Cupcake and Donut, we still need to consider that today these are deprecated and completely unsupported versions of Android. The installed applications ‘both from Google and other parties’ still might work, but the don’t have the features from the newer types intended for phones running a current version of Android OS. Likewise, the OS itself is very far behind the curve when it comes to features, fluidity and security.
Technically, you could still use a telephone running Android Cupcake or Donut for your daily driver. The basics are in place messaging, email and phone calls. These people work, just not just how we’re used to things working on a modern smartphone.
Once you go further, things turn south quickly. You have use of the original Android Market, and there are still about a dozen or so software that will set up and run. Facebook and Pandora are there, as well for instance a other programs you’ve never heard of but would install and use if you were stuck using an Android 1. 5 or just one. 6 phone.
Technically, you could still use a phone running Android Cupcake or Donut for your daily driver…
Contacts and calendar are completely busted. The application versions on an Android 1. times phone no longer sync with your Google account, and you will only add local associates or calendar entries. This particular makes for a less-than-smart smartphone experience.
The web browser is painful to utilize. It’s slow (read: unbearably so), and incompatible with most modern web pages. The majority of sites I tried will not load at all, and the ones that do are usually filled with errors. Things online have changed quite somewhat in the past five years, it seems.
The Facebook Iphone app seems more like the Wp7 app YouTube experience than a Android OS experience. The software is ugly and slow, and it also will take forever and a half for a video to load. most times, things just error out.
Amazingly, the Amazon MP3 store (included on many Cupcake and Donut phones, such as the T-Mobile G1 we’re using here) works fine. The Iphone app is as liquid just like be expected on the hardware, store results and audio tracks previews work great, and the entire thing makes you feel like you’ve went back to 2010 to buy some songs.
… But chances are you wouldn’t be happy or productive.
We’re not knocking the G1 or older versions of Android here. In their day, these phones running this software were the top of mobile tech. But they have been left right behind, and possess their age both on the hardware front as well as on the application side.
Although you could use something such as the G1 running Doughnut as your smartphone, chances are you wouldn’t be very happy or successful. Using one for a few days was fun, but what I received from it all was a much better appreciation for the great phones we certainly have today.
Android had found several success in the all of us and internationally through emits from HTC, Motorola, in addition to Samsung, but for really help to make a splash in the US an Android phone needed to be released on Verizon Wireless.
Getting an Android OS phone on Verizon inside 2010 was tough. Huge Red had just recently been burned badly by using the opportunity on the Microsoft-powered Kin phone, and AT&T’s relationship with Apple had been pulling more men and women aside from their network every single day. A big, splashy competitor to the iPhone was a must, in addition to nothing from the existing generation of Android cell phones offered a compelling marketing opportunity.
Knowing how large this partnership would end up being for both parties, Search engines worked hard to produce a compelling offering regarding Verizon. Verizon, Motorola and Google found an arrangement in October 2009, and a month later complete with a certification agreement with Lucasfilm the Motorola Droid has been launched in the US ALL because the first Android a couple of. 0 Eclair smartphone.
Verizon’s marketing efforts for the particular Droid were almost completely focused on attacking Apple.
Verizon’s marketing efforts for the Droid were practically totally focused on targeting Apple. The Droid Really does campaign included multitasking jabs and demonstrations of the voice search capabilities, plus was a spectacular accomplishment. For many users, typically the hardware was the finest of both worlds. You could slide out a physical keyboard if an individual wanted it, or make use of Google’s new virtual computer keyboard to accomplish all of your own typing. With a 550MHz processor and 256mb of RAM it didn’t execute much better than the other Android phones about the market at typically the time, but its commercial design and updated urinary incontinence offered a compelling overall experience.
Verizon’s embrace in the Droid was also the mortal blow to Hands. A founding company inside the smartphone space, Hand had launched their personal modern smartphone ‘typically the Palm Pre running webOS’ in June of 2009, but the first release was exclusive to Sprint. Verizon had agreed upon an exclusive deal regarding the improved Palm Before Plus, promising a big advertising campaign and sales. Right behind the scenes, Verizon applied Palm as leverage together with Motorola and Verizon, and barely promoted the Before Plus. With warehouses regarding unsold phones, Palm took huge lOSses and offered to HP in Apr 2010. HP webOS section was effectively shut lower the following year beneath the disastrous tenure of HP CEO LEE Apotheker.
Typically the Droid quickly became the most famous Android phone in the US. ‘Droid’ became associated with ‘Android’ for several, regardless of being a Verizon-exclusive brand. Even with the consumer-level brand confusion in order to the benefit of Verizon the Droid marked a good explOSion in awareness regarding Android.