Home > Google > How Android evolved How Android evolved Thom Holwerda 2013-06-21 Google 26 Comments Reddit user mr03 created a very thorough visual comparison to show just how much Android has changed over the years. No text, just pictures. It’s amazing how dated older releases look. About The Author Thom Holwerda Follow me on Twitter @thomholwerda 26 Comments 2013-06-21 8:40 am peteo I think it’s amazing how little it has evolved. Still a grid of icons, with some widgets thrown in, basically. And in fact, some of the early icon designs are more pleasing on the eye. 2013-06-21 9:00 am Troels I agree. Sure, some of the of the screens look dated on the old releases, especially the status bar and the widgets, but the way it works is remarkably unchanged. Not complaining though, i like the Holo look&feel and i think it gets things done easily without much fuss, the only thing that bugs me is the default icons, to me they look like something from Linux in the 90s or early 00s, especially the phone icon. Luckily that was fixable with the right launcher. 2013-06-21 10:22 am Laurence I’ve owned a handset that’s ran pretty much every version of Android (as my main phone as well). So I’ve seen the evolution first hand. And personally I don’t think icons were that bad in real life. But you have to bare in mind the competition back then looked worse (iOS being the exception). What I always hated was the mesh background that sat behind the icons. Even back when Android 1.5 and 1.6 was new, I thought that looked dated. In fact I’d go further and say down right crappy. I didn’t like the graphic for the handle of the icon draw either (though I did like the usability of it). 2013-06-21 9:58 am cfgr I think it’s amazing how little it has evolved. Still a grid of icons, with some widgets thrown in, basically. In the same way that forks today still look the same as forks hundreds of years ago. Some concepts are very hard, if not impossible, to improve. That’s also why I dislike the common discussion about who copied whose layout and who was the first. No-one was, it’s evolution through trial and error. A grid seems to be the best option for organising a bunch of applications: it has the same shape as the screen and it’s easy to find stuff by memory as grids are pretty static and have an extra dimension over lists. That’s probably why the current grid is not scrollable but behaves like pages instead (at least on my Nexus), unlike on older androids. So there’s still some evolution there, just not revolution Sure there are other ways of starting apps such as voice and text search, but none seem to be as efficient or reliable. Edited 2013-06-21 09:59 UTC 2013-06-21 11:02 am peteo Uh, all the awesome launchers show there are better and cooler ways. I’m sure someone will finally “get it” and make a disruptive phone interface (be it a skin or not) 2013-06-21 11:54 am cfgr Cooler does not imply better, often quite the opposite. Which launcher do you use then? Most I’ve seen are just different versions of a grid. 2013-06-21 12:50 pm peteo SPB Shell. And they don’t take it far enough, since you still drop into grid views. Someone needs to take this to the ultimate conclusion. Edited 2013-06-21 12:52 UTC 2013-06-28 11:29 pm zima In the same way that forks today still look the same as forks hundreds of years ago. The ones for hay or the ones for eating? If the latter… they actually changed , forks of the past for eating looked different; kinda like miniature forks for hay. Look up the last episode of Game of Thrones (s03e10), you can see it there. 2013-06-21 3:16 pm orfanum I agree, was immediately just going to post separately that the more 3-D icons look far better. Why do we graphically have to live in a default way as though the Earth is flat, as it were, or we are viewing ancient Egyptian wall paintings? 2013-06-21 10:00 pm WorknMan I think it’s amazing how little it has evolved. Yeah, and in some ways has gone backwards. No SD card support anymore in the stock rom, no CIFS support, and they did something in 4.2 that broke interoperability with some bluetooth game controllers. 2013-06-21 9:27 am wocowboy “It’s just a grid of icons”, now where have I heard that before? It sounds quite familiar. Pundits have been complaining about grids of icons lately, I just can’t quite put my finger on it. 2013-06-21 11:43 am kwan_e I just can’t quite put my finger on it. You have to take it out of your pocket first. 2013-06-21 10:44 am Kochise Same icons ? Icons on a grid ? Why changing everything at each iteration, for God’s sake ? Microsoft tried that with Modern UI, Apple with iOS 7, and now everyone complains because of the change ! You’ll never be satisfied with what you get. “Uho, just an increase of screen resolution, 500 dpi is so useless because it drains the battery” or “Naaah, skeudomorphisms uber aless !” I remember my Atari ST with its barely monochrome desktop and icons, no body complained and had the job done. Sometimes the KISS (Keep It Simple and Stupid) principle is a prerequisite ! Kochise 2013-06-21 11:26 am moondevil I always found Workbench better. 2013-06-21 11:29 am MOS6510 Workbench IS better. 2013-06-21 11:32 am moondevil Sadly I cannot up vote you. 2013-06-21 11:34 am MOS6510 I couldn’t vote you up either because I already had done recently. It’s sometimes rather difficult to cast votes as there are a lot of rules of engagement here. 2013-06-21 12:52 pm Kochise Indeed. It had multitasking, what the Atari’s TOS lacked of. Not to mention the numerous bugs and difficult expandability. But I digress… Kochise 2013-06-21 11:31 am moondevil The way things are, the available set of languages in the official SDK will be frozen ad infinitum. 2013-06-21 1:13 pm jessesmith I don’t own an Android and so it was interesting seeing this collection of images arranged side-by-side for comparison. To my eyes, my first impression is that the interface peaked around version 2.3. The 4.x series looks too low-contrast and transparent for my taste. The 2.x series has a nice, strong contrast and firm colours and that appeals to me. Were I selecting an OS based on looks alone I’d go with Android 2.x. 2013-06-22 5:35 pm stare Spot on. Still using CM7 and not upgrading to 4.x because its definitely a downgrade in terms of visual usability. 2013-06-22 9:42 pm ThomasFuhringer It looks like at some point the prince of darkness took over control of UI design. I keep wondering if it is to save battery consumption or they really think it looks better. 2013-06-21 3:03 pm Yoko_T Reddit user mr03 created a very thorough visual comparison to show just how much Android has changed over the years. No text, just pictures. It’s amazing how dated older releases look. This sucky attitude is exactly how we wound up with crap like Gnome 3,Unity,and Windows 8 Clueless Losers like this guy is actually judging OS by how “Dated” they look? God help us all. 2013-06-21 10:24 pm ricegf Just for the record, while I switched to Mint when Unity first came out, I switched back to Unity at 12.04, and I prefer it now to Cinnamon, Gnome 2, Gnome 3, Win 7 and certainly Win 8. And I’m fond of the phone, tablet, TV and desktop family of interfaces they’ve built around it – optimized per form factor but still logically consistent. But I won’t call you names for disagreeing with me. 😉 2013-06-22 9:38 am stabbyjones Did you use Windows 95 in 1995 or 2005? Hind-sight’s a bitch isn’t it? 2013-06-22 11:25 am dsmogor Is an increasingly important part of modern touch UIs since they switched to 60fps rendering and that’s a part where most innovation happens. This is of course not depicted in that comparison.