All posts in “Mobile”

The best iPhone XS Max screen protectors to safeguard that huge screen

If you’ve got a craving for the biggest screen available, then you won’t find many larger than the display on the Apple iPhone XS Max. The 6.5-inch display is the largest that Apple’s ever put on an iPhone, and it’s sumptuously gorgeous to boot, thanks to the Super Retina AMOLED tech powering it. Throw in Apple’s A12 Bionic processor and you’ve got yourself a powerful, beautiful, media-crunching beast of a smartphone.

But none of that will cut the mustard if your new phone’s screen cracks after a drop onto concrete. Grabbing an iPhone XS Max case is a great start, but what about making it even more secure with a screen protector? There are many options available, but we’ve sifted through the piles in order to highlight some of the best iPhone XS Max screen protectors that will keep your massive display protected.

Belkin ScreenForce InvisiGlass ($40)

best iphone xs max screen protectors belkin

If you’re looking for Apple accessories, Belkin is the first stop for many. Belkin’s ScreenForce InvisiGlass screen protector might be a mouthful to pronounce, but it also piles a lot of protection into a small package. It’s made from chemically strengthened tempered glass that Belkin claims is able to provide the highest possible level of scratch-resistance. Thanks to that added strength, Belkin’s also been able to make this protector very thin — just 0.29 mm thick. It’s case compatible, so there shouldn’t any issues with most cases, and an easy installation should be possible with the supplied installation tray. Best of all, buyers in the U.S. and Canada get Belkin’s limited lifetime warranty for easy replacements.

Buy it now from:

Belkin Amazon

Bodyguardz Ultratough ScreenGuardz ($20)

best iphone xs max screen protectors bodyguardz

Bodyguardz isn’t yet as well-known as some of the bigger names in the business, but with the quality it’s been pumping out, it’s only a matter of time before it is. This screen protector is made from a clear urethane film, and has been treated with an antimicrobial coating that helps to keep bacteria off your screen. It also has self-healing properties that help close up more minor scratches. It covers your phone’s display from edge-to-edge, folding around the curves. Since it’s film and not glass, it won’t take the hit for your screen if the worst happens, and won’t be as protective — but it’s still great scratch protection that’s easy to forget once it’s applied.

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Bodyguardz

InvisibleShield Sapphire Defense ($50)

best iphone xs max screen protectors invisibleshield

InvisibleShield offers a large range of screen protectors, so it means something when it touts the Sapphire Defense as the world’s most advanced screen protector. It’s made from tempered glass that’s been infused with sapphire to increase scratch-resistance. InvisibleShield claims that this infusion means the Sapphire Defense gives seven times more protection against shattering, drop damage, and scratches than having an unprotected screen. Not only that, but this protector is also boasts “aerospace-grade” self-healing properties that remove minor scratches. However, premium protection comes with a premium price, and that may put some people off. Regardless, this is an easy-to-apply and strong protector for your iPhone.

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InvisibleShield

Tech Armor Ballistic Glass Triple Pack ($9)

best iphone xs max screen protectors tech armor

We go from one of the most expensive protectors on our list to one of the cheapest. But don’t let that put you off — Tech Armor has a solid reputation. Each of the protectors in this triple pack is made from high-quality glass with a 9H hardness that boasts a 99 percent clarity rating. There’s also an oleophobic coating that resists smudges and fingerprints. The screen protectors come with a 2.5D edge that prevents chipping by curving away at the edges, and are case-friendly. Tech Armor includes an easy installation tray so you can get the fit right every time, and at just 0.3 mm thick, you should be able to forget them once they’re applied. However, they only protect the flat parts of the XS Max’s screen, and will not cover the curved edges. Still, at this price, it’s a great deal.

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Amazon

Spigen Glas.TR Slim HD ($30)

best iphone xs max screen protectors spigen

Another great glass option from a trusted name, Spigen’s Glas.TR is made from tempered glass with a 9H hardness that should be able to handle most of the hazards posed by everyday life. It has an oleophobic coating that helps to reduce fingerprints and smears, and Spigen boasts it’s just as clear as the iPhone’s original screen. Most importantly, this protector is fully compatible with Spigen’s huge range of cases, making this a great choice if you’re already rocking a Spigen case. It’s on the expensive side when compared to some of the other options on this list, so you’ll have to decide whether the Spigen name is worth the price for you.

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Spigen

Skinomi TechSkin Case Compatible Twin Pack ($8)

best iphone xs max screen protectors skinomi

Film protectors aren’t the best at dealing with drops, but they are great at handling scratches. Skinomi claims that its TechSkin is the toughest clear film protector on the market, and says the same material is often used to protect luxury cars, military aircraft, and NASA space shuttles. Whether that’s true or not, the TechSkin provides good protection against everyday wear and tear, and comes with a self-healing layer and anti-yellowing properties that keep your protector from looking old as it ages. It uses a wet installation method, so there’s a physical medium between the protector and the screen, which reduces any loss of touch sensitivity. Best of all, it comes in a twin pack, giving you great value for money.

Buy it now from:

Amazon

Laut Prime Privacy ($25)

best iphone xs max screen protectors laut

Privacy can be hard to come by in this day and age, but at the very least you can expect to keep yourself to yourself on the train with the assistance of Laut’s Prime Privacy protector. This protector is made from shatter-resistant tempered glass that should provide great resistance to scratches and other damage, while also providinf protection against drops and falls. The real magic here is the privacy filter laid over the top of the glass. Look straight on at your phone and everything’s normal, but try to view it at an angle and the filter fades the screen to black, stopping prying eyes from reading over your shoulder. It comes with an oleophobic coating and it’s not a bad price, but keep in mind this’ll make it harder to share videos with other people.

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Laut

Armorsuit Matte Protector ($14)

best iphone xs max screen protectors armorsuit

Tired of light reflecting from your screen and making it hard to read anything? You’re not alone — but there are ways to cut down on bothersome glare. This film protector from Armorsuit comes with a matte finish that cuts down on glare significantly, making it easier to see your phone in direct sunlight. It’s resistant to scratches with a self-healing layer, and comes with an oleophobic coating, but don’t expect it to be as strong as a glass protector against drops and bumps. That doesn’t mean it’s not tough — Armorsuit claims it’s made from the same material used to protect military vehicles, so it should hold up well over time. It’s great choice if you have a problem with glare, but people looking for drop protection should look elsewhere.

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Amazon

Zizo Lightning Shield ($20)

best iphone xs max screen protectors zizo

Edge-to-edge protection can be tough to come by when phones have curved edges, but that’s not the case with Zizo’s Lightning Shield. Like many others on this list, it’s made from tempered glass and is resistant to scratches, drops, and other hazards. It covers the phone completely, and the edges of the protector gently curve down to prevent chipping over time. It’s just 0.33 mm thick, so you should be able to forget it’s there, and it also comes with an oleophobic coating to resist greasy fingerprints. At $20, it’s cheap for a full glass protector, and it’s not hard to install either.

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Zizo Mobile Fun

IQ Shield Full Bodyskin Protector ($8)

best iphone xs max screen protectors iq shield

We’ve highlighted a lot of screen protectors on this list that work well with cases, but what if you’re not getting a case, but still want some protection? This combination of front and back protection from IQ Shield allows you to install some protection on your XS Max, while still letting your phone’s beauty to shine through the protective film. The film includes a variety of layers to add UV and other protection to your phone, and it also comes with a wet installation method that’ll ensure the adhesive stays strong. Thin film won’t do much to protect against drops and falls, but if you’re worried about scratches, then this is a great all-over solution.

Buy it now from:

Amazon

Editors’ Recommendations

From Android 1.0 to Android 9.0, here’s how Google’s OS evolved over a decade

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads android
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The smartphone has come a long way since the first iPhone launched in 2007. While Apple’s iOS is arguably the world’s first smartphone operating system, Google’s Android is by far the most popular. Android has evolved significantly since its inception, first being released on an HTC-made T-Mobile device back in 2008. Some might not know, however, that Android’s history dates back before it was available on smartphones.  In fact, Android was first created in 2003 by Andy Rubin, who first started developing the OS for digital cameras. Soon, he realized that the market for digital camera operating systems perhaps wasn’t all that big, and Android, Inc. diverted its attention toward smartphones.

It wasn’t until 2005 that Google purchased Android, Inc., and while not much about Android was known at the time, many took it as a signal that Google would use the platform to enter the phone business. Eventually, Google did enter the smartphone business — but not as a hardware manufacturer. Instead, it marketed Android to other manufacturers, first catching the eye of HTC, who used the platform for the first Android phone, the HTC Dream, in 2008.

Beginning with that initial version of the operating system running on the HTC Dream, join us as we take a look at how Android has changed in the past decade.

Android 1.0 — Android Market, widgets, and notifications (2008)

htc-dream-thumb

Android 1.0 was obviously far less developed than the operating system we know and love today, but there are a few similarities. For example, most agreed that Android pretty much nailed how to deal with notifications, and it included the pull-down notification window that blew the notification system in iOS out of the water.

Another groundbreaking innovation in Android is the Google Play Store, which, at the time, was called the Market. While Apple beat it to the punch by launching the App Store on the iPhone a few months earlier, the fact is that together they kick-started the idea of a centralized place to get all your apps — something that’s hard to imagine not having now.

Apart from the Market, Android 1.0 also boasted the ability to use home screen widgets, a feature that iOS did not have. In fact, iOS still doesn’t let you put widgets on your home screen. Unfortunately, developers couldn’t create their own widgets at the time. That changed in later versions. Last but not least, the first version of Android had deep integration with Gmail, a service that had already taken off at the time.

Android 1.5 Cupcake — Third-party widgets, on-screen keyboard, and a sugary name (2009)

cupcake-24

The first major update to Android not only got a new version number, but it was the first to use Google’s naming scheme, too. Cupcake was significant for a number of reasons, but the most important is probably that it was the first version of Android to have an on-screen keyboard — before that, manufacturers had to include physical keyboards on their devices.

Next up is widgets. While widgets were supported in earlier versions of Android, third-party developers couldn’t create and implement then. Starting with Cupcake, Google opened the widgets SDK to third-party developers, which was an important move. Now, many developers bundle at least one widget with their app.

Can you imagine a world without video? Before Cupcake, Android did not support video capture, so users with earlier versions of Android could only capture photos. That all (thankfully) changed with Cupcake.

Android 1.6 Donut — CDMA, quick search box, and different screen sizes (2009)

android-donut

Android Donut gave users a pretty big update — a much bigger update than the 0.1 version number increase suggests. For example, Donut brought Android to millions of people by adding support for CDMA networks such as Verizon, Sprint, and a number of big networks in Asia.

Donut was really targeted at making Android more user-friendly, but some of the biggest updates were under the hood. For example, Donut was the first version of Android to support different screen sizes, meaning that manufacturers could create devices with the display sizes they wanted and still run Android.

Back to user-friendliness, though. Donut was the first version of Android to include what’s now considered an Android staple — the quick search box. This basically allowed users to quickly search the web, local files, contacts, and more directly from the home screen without having to open any apps.

Donut also introduced a few aesthetic changes to Android, such as a redesigned Android Market, which offered more curation over top free and paid apps.

Android 2.0 Eclair — Google Maps navigation, HTML5 browser support, and new lock screen (2009)

android-eclair

While the updates to Android so far were important, they were still incremental refinements of the same operating system. Around a year after Android was first released, Android 2.0 Eclair made its debut, bringing some massive changes to the operating system, many of which are still around today.

Eclair was the first device to feature Google Maps navigation, for instance, kicking off what soon became the death of the in-car GPS unit. While Maps has changed a lot since then, a few important features showed up in the service that are still present today, such as turn-by-turn navigation and voice guidance. There were turn-by-turn navigation apps at that time, but they were expensive, meaning Google’s move to offer Maps for free was pretty disruptive.

The internet browser in Android Eclair also got revamped for the new operating system. Google added HTML5 support to the browser and the ability to play videos, putting Eclair on par with the ultimate mobile internet machine at the time — aka the iPhone. Last but not least was the lock screen, which got a major refresh and allowed users to swipe to unlock — just like on the iPhone. From the lock screen, users could also change the phone’s mute mode.

Android 2.2 Froyo (2010)

android-froyo

Android Froyo was first released in 2010, and proved why it was an advantage to have a Nexus phone. The Nexus One, which was the first Nexus phone to be released, was also the first phone to get the Android Froyo update. Froyo was  aimed more at refining the Android experience, offering users five home screen panels instead of three, and showing off a redesigned Gallery app.

There were, however, a few under-the-hood improvements. For example, Froyo was the first version of Android to bring mobile hot spot support. Users also finally got the PIN lock screen, which was perfect for those who didn’t really like the pattern lock screen that was previously offered in Android.

Android 2.3 Gingerbread (2010)

android-gingerbread

The Nexus program was finally coming into its own, and the release of Gingerbread confirmed that. Google chose the Samsung-built Nexus S for this one, however, a phone that was derived from Samsung’s highly-successful Galaxy S. Gingerbread was another big Android refinement, and it saw a redesign of Android’s stock widgets and home screen.

Gingerbread also came with an improved keyboard, which offered new coloration for the keys, as well as improved multitouch support, which allowed users to press multiple keys to access a secondary keyboard. Last but not least is that Gingerbread added support for the front-facing camera — what would us selfie-lovers do without that?

Android 3.0 Honeycomb (2011)

android-honeycomb

Google had been making waves in the smartphone industry for a few years now, which made Honeycomb a very interesting release purely because it was targeted at tablets. It was even first showcased on a Motorola device that would eventually become the Xoom.

Honeycomb provided a few design cues as to what would appear in future versions of Android. Instead of accenting the operating system with the classic green Android color, for example, Google switched to blue accents. On top of that, instead of users having to choose home screen widgets from a simple list, where they couldn’t see what the widgets looked like, previews were offered for individual widgets. Perhaps the biggest move in Honeycomb was the fact that it removed the need for the physical button, Instead, the home, back, and menu buttons were all included in the software as virtual buttons, meaning they could be hidden or shown based on the application.

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (2011)

android-ice-cream-sandwich

The Nexus S was a great phone, but it wasn’t the be all and end all of Google’s partnership with Samsung. The two paired up once again for the release of the Galaxy Nexus, which showcased Ice Cream Sandwich, an operating system that brought many of Honeycomb’s features over to the smartphone.

For example, the operating system brought over the aforementioned virtual buttons, as well as the tweaked and refined interface that made use of the blue highlights. Other small features, such as face unlock, data usage analysis, and new apps for mail and calendar, were also included in the update.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean (2012)

android-jelly-bean

Android Jelly Beam signaled a new era for the operating system, even if the OS seemed more or less the same as its predecessor. If you dug a little deeper, you would have seen some very important changes. The most important of which was Google Now, which could be accessed with a quick swipe from the home screen and brought information — i.e. calendar events, emails, weather reports — all to a single screen. The feature was really Google’s first major stab at a digital assistant, and it laid the groundwork for future versions of digital assistants, including Google Assistant.

Apart from Google Now, a number of other important additions were implemented in Jelly Bean, such as Project Butter, which was aimed at drastically improving Android’s touch performance by tripling buffering graphics. This eliminated a lot of the stutter in Android and made it a much smoother experience overall. Refreshed font, expandable notifications, greater widget flexibility, and other features were also added in Jelly Bean, rendering it one of the biggest updates to Android so far.

Android 4.4 KitKat (2013)

android-kitkat

The launch of Android 4.4 KitKat coincided with the launch of the Nexus 5, and it came with a number of great features. For example, KitKat represented one of the biggest aesthetic changes to the operating system to date, modernizing the look of Android. The blue accents found in Ice Cream Sandwich and Jellybean were replaced with a more refined white accent, and a number of the stock apps that came with Android were redesigned to show lighter color schemes.

Apart from a new look, KitKat also brought things like the “OK, Google” search command, which allowed the user to access Google Now at any time. It also brought a new phone dialer, full-screen apps, and a new Hangouts app, which offered SMS support along with support for the Hangouts messaging platform.

Android 5.0 Lollipop (2014)

android-lollipop

Android Lollipop, which debuted alongside the Nexus 6, was the first to feature Google’s “Material Design” philosophy. The updates, however, weren’t purely aesthetic — the operating system also exhibited a few major updates under the hood.

Google replaced the aging Dalvik VM with Android Runtime, for example, which boasted ahead-of-time compilation. This essentially meant that part of the processing power required for apps could be conducted before said apps were ever opened. On top of that, we saw a number of notification upgrades, the addition of RAW image support, and a host of other refinements.

Android 5.0 also saw the addition of another version of Android, dubbed Android TV, which brought Android to the big screen and is still in use on plenty of TVs today.

Android 6.0 Marshmallow (2015)

android-marshmallow

Android Marshmallow brought about both design changes and changes under the hood. Most notably, the app menu almost completely changed. Google used a white background instead of black, for instance, and added a search bar to help users quickly find the app they need. Android Marshmallow also brought the addition of the memory manager, which allowed you to check the memory usage of any app used within the past 3, 6, 12, or 24 hours.

Next up are the volume controls. In Marshmallow, you’ll get access to a more comprehensive set of volume controls, allowing you to change the volume for the device, media, and alarms. Security also got a pretty big boost within the operating system. Android officially supported fingerprint sensors beginning with Marshmallow, and permissions got a significant revamp. Instead of apps requesting all permissions upfront when downloaded, permissions are requested on a per-permission basis when they’re required.

Android 7.0 Nougat (2016)

Google Pixel XL
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Android 7.0 Nougat arguably marked one of the biggest upgrades to Android in its 10 years — largely because of how smart the operating system got. In fact, perhaps the biggest change to Android in Nougat is that Google Now was replaced with the now much-respected Google Assistant.

Along with Assistant, Nougat brought an improved notifications system, which tweaked how notifications looked and acted within the OS. Notifications were presented from screen to screen, and unlike previous iterations of Android, they could be grouped together for easy management. Multitasking also got a boost with Nougat. Whether you’re using a phone or a tablet, you’ll be able to use split-screen mode, allowing you to use two apps at once without having to exit out of each app every few minutes.

Android 8.0 Oreo (2017)

android version history

Android Oreo brought the Android platform to version 8.0, and in particular got a ton of multitasking features. Picture-in-picture and native split-screen both made their debuts in Android Oreo, meaning you could continue watching your favorite show on Netflix while browsing the web.

Android Oreo also gave us a whole lot more control over notifications. With Oreo, users were given the ability to turn notification channels on or off, meaning you could get super granular with which notifications show up and what happens when they appear. In particular, notification channels allowed users to sort notifications based on importance. Also notification-related, Oreo brought notification dots, and the ability to snooze notifications.

A few other smaller features showed up in Oreo, too. For example, Google did away with the blob style for emojis, replacing them with emojis that were a little more in line with other platforms. Oreo also gave us auto-enable Wi-Fi, a smart text selector, and so on.

Android 9.0 Pie (2018)

android 9 pie app swticher
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Now, ten years after the launch of Android on smartphones, we’re at Android 9.0 Pie. Android Pie brings with it a number of visual changes — so much so that from a visual perspective, it’s the biggest change to Android in a few years.

Most notably, Android 9.0 Pie does away with the three-button setup that has existed in Android for years, replacing it with a single pill-shaped button and gestures for controlling things like multitasking. Android 9.0 Pie also brings with it some changes to notifications, including extra control over the types of notifications that show up and where they show up, as well as Google’s new “Digital Wellbeing,” a feature that essentially tells you how often you use your phone, the apps that you use the most, and so on. The feature is aimed at helping users better manage their digital lives and curb smartphone addiction.

Other features include adaptive battery, which limits how much battery background apps can use, as well as “App Actions,” which are deep-links to certain app features that show up straight from the app drawer.

That’s a brief history of Android to date. The mobile operating system just hit its 10-year anniversary, despite the current version being called Android 9.0 Pie.

Editors’ Recommendations

Snap, then shop? Snapchat’s camera will soon buy stuff from Amazon

snapchat camera shop on amazon visual search
Snapchat

Snapchat’s camera is good for more than puppy dog ears and augmented reality games. Soon, the social media platform will shop for you, too. On Monday, September 24, Snap Inc. announced the ability to shop on Amazon with your Snapchat camera. The feature is in early testing and will roll out slowly to more users, Snap says.

The feature is a hidden one without any changes to the icons displayed in the Snapchat camera. To search for a product, after pointing the camera at whatever that object is, tap and hold the object. An Amazon card pops up on the screen with the top link, including an option to see more results by leaving the Snapchat app and going directly to Amazon, using either the app (if it’s installed) or the website. Along with using object recognition to search for products, the feature will also search via barcode, Snap says.

Snap says the feature is a faster way to shop and the camera option is easy to use. The lack of a physical icon on the screen could make the tool one of Snapchat’s lesser-known features, like the option to Shazam a song from inside Snapchat that uses the same process of tapping and holding on the screen. On the flipside, the touch control also keeps the interface from looking too cluttered.

The feature was first discovered by an app researcher breaking down the code, but details at the time didn’t confirm Amazon as the retailer for finding those products.

Shopping by camera isn’t new — the Amazon app has a camera mode that will also search using object recognition and barcodes alongside “trying” a product using augmented reality. By integrating into the Snapchat app, avid Snapchatters can skip a step if they want to buy something they see while snapping photos for Stories or Snapchatting friends.

Visual shopping is becoming increasingly available across multiple platforms, including Pinterest Lens and Google Lens. The tools can help when searching for a jacket won’t do — you want to find that particular jacket in a certain style and color. Besides fashion, other artificial intelligence-powered visual shopping searches can dig up home decor, books, and more.

The Amazon visual search isn’t Snapchat’s first dive into integrating shopping on the social network either; Snapchat also has shoppable AR filters and Stickers. The feature, for now, is only a test and Snap didn’t clarify when that slow rollout will happen.

Editors’ Recommendations

Google Feed is now known as ‘Discover,’ will be available on mobile browsers

google feed personalization update

As part of its 20th anniversary, Google unveiled its plans to improve Search — starting with its Google Feed. Now known as Discover, the update brings along a redesign complete with features to help you find content that aligns with your interests.

Originally introduced in December 2016, the Google Feed has gone through its fair share of changes throughout the years. Located in the Google app, the feed was organized into two sections — a feed that kept you up to date on your interests like sports, entertainment, and news, while the second feed was dedicated to personal information like appointments and flights. Over time, Google allowed for more customizability, giving users the ability to pick and choose content they wanted to see on their feed.

With Discover, Google aims to help you uncover content that is not only timely but that also aligns with your interests. While scrolling through, you will see topic headers that provide an explanation for why you’re seeing a specific card in Discover. Next to the topic name is a Discover icon, which you’ll also start seeing in Search. If there is a topic that interests you, tapping on the icon will bring you to more content along with the ability to tap “Follow” it — which will add it to your feed.

While the new feature sets out on bringing you fresh content, Discover will also provide you with evergreen content that is relevant to you even if the article isn’t new. If you’re planning a road trip across the country or taking some time off in Europe, Discover might show you an article with the best restaurants in that area or suggested places to visit.

Google also introduced Topic Layer, which analyzes content on the web for a specific topic and develops subtopics around it. Using this new tool, Discover will be able to pinpoint the level of expertise someone has on a specific topic and then provide content around it. For example, if you’re learning to play the piano, Discover might show you content for beginners. If you have been playing the piano for years, you’ll see more advanced content appear.

Customizability is still alive and well even with the new update. Now, you can tap on the control icon in Discover to indicate whether you want to see more or less content on a specific topic. As for news, Google says that it will use the same technology used in its redesigned News app known as Full Coverage, which paints a complete picture of a story from a variety of different perspectives.

Discover will be available in multiple languages starting with support for English and Spanish in the U.S., and expanding to other languages and countries in the future. In addition to the Google app, Discover is also coming to mobile browsers and will be rolling out over the next few weeks. That way, even when you use Google on your browser, you still have access to the new tool underneath the Search bar.

Editors’ Recommendations

From Android 1.0 to Android 9.0, here’s how Google’s OS has evolved over a decade

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads android
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The smartphone has come a long way since the first iPhone launched in 2007. While Apple’s iOS is arguably the world’s first smartphone operating system, Google’s Android is by far the most popular. Android has evolved significantly since its inception, first being released on an HTC-made T-Mobile device back in 2008. Some might not know, however, that Android’s history dates back before it was available on smartphones.  In fact, Android was first created in 2003 by Andy Rubin, who first started developing the OS for digital cameras. Soon, he realized that the market for digital camera operating systems perhaps wasn’t all that big, and Android, Inc. diverted its attention toward smartphones.

It wasn’t until 2005 that Google purchased Android, Inc., and while not much about Android was known at the time, many took it as a signal that Google would use the platform to enter the phone business. Eventually, Google did enter the smartphone business — but not as a hardware manufacturer. Instead, it marketed Android to other manufacturers, first catching the eye of HTC, who used the platform for the first Android phone, the HTC Dream, in 2008.

Beginning with that initial version of the operating system running on the HTC Dream, join us as we take a look at how Android has changed in the past decade.

Android 1.0 — Android Market, widgets, and notifications (2008)

htc-dream-thumb

Android 1.0 was obviously far less developed than the operating system we know and love today, but there are a few similarities. For example, most agreed that Android pretty much nailed how to deal with notifications, and it included the pull-down notification window that blew the notification system in iOS out of the water.

Another groundbreaking innovation in Android is the Google Play Store, which, at the time, was called the Market. While Apple beat it to the punch by launching the App Store on the iPhone a few months earlier, the fact is that together they kick-started the idea of a centralized place to get all your apps — something that’s hard to imagine not having now.

Apart from the Market, Android 1.0 also boasted the ability to use home screen widgets, a feature that iOS did not have. In fact, iOS still doesn’t let you put widgets on your home screen. Unfortunately, developers couldn’t create their own widgets at the time. That changed in later versions. Last but not least, the first version of Android had deep integration with Gmail, a service that had already taken off at the time.

Android 1.5 Cupcake — Third-party widgets, on-screen keyboard, and a sugary name (2009)

cupcake-24

The first major update to Android not only got a new version number, but it was the first to use Google’s naming scheme, too. Cupcake was significant for a number of reasons, but the most important is probably that it was the first version of Android to have an on-screen keyboard — before that, manufacturers had to include physical keyboards on their devices.

Next up is widgets. While widgets were supported in earlier versions of Android, third-party developers couldn’t create and implement then. Starting with Cupcake, Google opened the widgets SDK to third-party developers, which was an important move. Now, many developers bundle at least one widget with their app.

Can you imagine a world without video? Before Cupcake, Android did not support video capture, so users with earlier versions of Android could only capture photos. That all (thankfully) changed with Cupcake.

Android 1.6 Donut — CDMA, quick search box, and different screen sizes (2009)

android-donut

Android Donut gave users a pretty big update — a much bigger update than the 0.1 version number increase suggests. For example, Donut brought Android to millions of people by adding support for CDMA networks such as Verizon, Sprint, and a number of big networks in Asia.

Donut was really targeted at making Android more user-friendly, but some of the biggest updates were under the hood. For example, Donut was the first version of Android to support different screen sizes, meaning that manufacturers could create devices with the display sizes they wanted and still run Android. Back to user-friendliness, though. Donut was the first version of Android to include what’s now considered an Android staple — the quick search box. This basically allowed users to quickly search the web, local files, contacts, and more directly from the home screen without having to open any apps.

Donut also introduced a few aesthetic changes to Android, such as a redesigned Android Market, which offered more curation over top free and paid apps.

Android 2.0 Eclair — Google Maps navigation, HTML5 browser support, and new lock screen (2009)

android-eclair

While the updates to Android so far were important, they were still incremental refinements of the same operating system. Around a year after Android was first released, Android 2.0 Eclair made its debut, bringing some massive changes to the operating system, many of which are still around today.

Eclair was the first device to feature Google Maps navigation, for instance, kicking off what soon became the death of the in-car GPS unit. While Maps has changed a lot since then, a few important features showed up in the service that are still present today, such as turn-by-turn navigation and voice guidance. There were turn-by-turn navigation apps at that time, but they were expensive, meaning Google’s move to offer Maps for free was pretty disruptive.

The internet browser in Android Eclair also got revamped for the new operating system. Google added HTML5 support to the browser and the ability to play videos, putting Eclair on par with the ultimate mobile internet machine at the time — aka the iPhone. Last but not least was the lock-screen, which got a major refresh and allowed users to swipe to unlock — just like on the iPhone. From the lock screen, users could also change the phone’s mute mode.

Android 2.2 Froyo (2010)

android-froyo

Android Froyo was first released in 2010, and proved why it was an advantage to have a Nexus phone. The Nexus One, which was the first Nexus phone to be released, was also the first phone to get the Android Froyo update. Froyo was more aimed at refining the Android experience, offering users five home screen panels instead of three, and showing off a redesigned Gallery app.

There were, however, a few under-the-hood improvements. For example, Froyo was the first version of Android to bring mobile hotspot support. Users also finally got the PIN lock screen, which was perfect for those that didn’t really like the pattern lock screen that was previously offered in Android.

Android 2.3 Gingerbread (2010)

android-gingerbread

The Nexus program was finally coming into its own, and the release of Gingerbread confirmed that. Google chose the Samsung-built Nexus S for this one, however, a phone that was derived from Samsung’s highly-successful Galaxy S. Gingerbread was another big Android refinement, and it saw a redesign of Android’s stock widgets and home screen.

Gingerbread also came with an improved keyboard, which offered new coloration for the keys, as well as improved multitouch support, which allowed users to press multiple keys to access a secondary keyboard. Last but not least is that Gingerbread added support for the front-facing camera — what would us selfie-lovers do without that?

Android 3.0 Honeycomb (2011)

android-honeycomb

Google had been making waves in the smartphone industry for a few years now, which made Honeycomb a very interesting release purely because it was targeted at tablets. It was even first showcased on a Motorola device that would eventually become the Xoom.

Honeycomb provided a few design cues as to what would appear in future versions of Android. Instead of accenting the operating system with the classic green Android color, for example, Google switched to blue accents. On top of that, instead of users having to choose home screen widgets from a simple list, where they couldn’t see what the widgets looked like, previews were offered for individual widgets. Perhaps the biggest move in Honeycomb was the fact that it removed the need for the physical button, Instead, the home, back, and menu buttons were all included in the software as virtual buttons, meaning they could be hidden or shown based on the application.

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (2011)

android-ice-cream-sandwich

The Nexus S was a great phone, but it wasn’t the be all and end all of Google’s partnership with Samsung. The two paired up once again for the release of the Galaxy Nexus, which showcased Ice Cream Sandwich, an operating system that brought many of Honeycomb’s features over to the smartphone.

For example, the operating system brought over the aforementioned virtual buttons, as well as the tweaked and refined interface that made use of the blue highlights. Other small features, such as face unlock, data usage analysis, and new apps for mail and calendar, were also included in the update.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean (2012)

android-jelly-bean

Android Jelly Beam signaled a new era for the operating system, even if the OS seemed more or less the same as its predecessor. If you dug a little deeper, you would have seen some very important changes. The most important of which was Google Now, which could be accessed with a quick swipe from the home screen and brought information — i.e. calendar events, emails, weather reports — all to a single screen. The feature was really Google’s first major stab at a digital assistant, and it laid the groundwork for future versions of digital assistants, including Google Assistant.

Apart from Google Now, a number of other important additions were implemented in Jelly Bean, such as Project Butter, which was aimed at drastically improving Android’s touch performance by tripling buffering graphics. This eliminated a lot of the stutter in Android and made it a much smoother experience overall. Refreshed font, expandable notifications, greater widget flexibility, and other features were also added in Jelly Bean, rendering it one of the biggest updates to Android so far.

Android 4.4 KitKat (2013)

android-kitkat

The launch of Android 4.4 KitKat coincided with the launch of the Nexus 5, and it came with a number of great features. For example, KitKat represented one of the biggest aesthetic changes to the operating system to date, modernizing the look of Android. The blue accents found in Ice Cream Sandwich and Jellybean were replaced with a more refined white accent, and a number of the stock apps that came with Android were redesigned to show lighter color schemes.

Apart from a new look, KitKat also brought things like the “OK, Google” search command, which allowed the user to access Google Now at any time. It also brought a new phone dialer, full-screen apps, and a new Hangouts app, which offered SMS support along with support for the Hangouts messaging platform.

Android 5.0 Lollipop (2014)

android-lollipop

Android Lollipop, which debuted alongside the Nexus 6,was the first to feature Google’s “Material Design” philosophy. The updates, however, weren’t purely aesthetic — the operating system also exhibited a few major updates under the hood.

Google replaced the aging Dalvik VM with Android Runtime, for example, which boasted ahead-of-time compilation. This essentially meant that part of the processing power required for apps could be conducted before said apps were ever opened. On top of that, we saw a number of notification upgrades, the addition of RAW image support, and a host of other refinements.

Android 5.0 also saw the addition of another version of Android, dubbed Android TV, which brought Android to the big screen and is still in use on plenty of TVs today.

Android 6.0 Marshmallow (2015)

android-marshmallow

Android Marshmallow brought about both design changes and those under the hood. Most notably, the app menu almost completely changed. Google used a white background instead of black, for instance, and added a search bar to help users quickly find the app they need. Android Marshmallow also brought the addition of the memory manager, which allowed you to check the memory usage of any app used within the past 3, 6, 12, or 24 hours.

Next up are the volume controls. In Marshmallow, you’ll get access to a more comprehensive set of volume controls, allowing you to change the volume for the device, media, and alarms. Security also got a pretty big boost within the operating system. Android officially supported fingerprint sensors beginning with Marshmallow, and permissions got a significant revamp. Instead of apps requesting all permissions upfront when downloaded, permissions are requested on a per-permission basis when they’re required.

Android 7.0 Nougat (2016)

Google Pixel XL
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Android 7.0 Nougat arguably marked one of the biggest upgrades to Android in its 10 years — largely because of how smart the operating system got. In fact, perhaps the biggest change to Android in Nougat is that Google Now was replaced with the now much-respected Google Assistant.

Along with Assistant, Nougat brought an improved notifications system, which tweaked how notifications looked and acted within the OS. Notifications were presented from screen to screen, and unlike previous iterations of Android, they could be grouped together for easy management. Multitasking also got a boost with Nougat. Whether you’re using a phone or a tablet, you’ll be able to use split-screen mode, allowing you to use two apps at once without having to exit out of each app every few minutes.

Android 8.0 Oreo (2017)

android version history

Android Oreo brought the Android platform to version 8.0, and in particular got a ton of multitasking features. Picture-in-picture and native split-screen both made their debuts in Android Oreo, meaning you could continue watching your favorite show on Netflix while browsing the web.

Android Oreo also gave us a whole lot more control over notifications. With Oreo, users were given the ability to turn on or off notification channels, meaning you could get super granular with which notifications show up and what happens when they appear. In particular, notification channels allowed users to sort notifications based on importance. Also notification-related, Oreo brought notification dots, and the ability to snooze notifications.

A few other smaller features showed up in Oreo too. For example, Google did away with the blob style for emojis, replacing them with emojis  a little more in line with other platforms. Oreo also gave us auto-enable Wi-Fi, a smart text selector, and so on.

Android 9.0 Pie (2018)

android 9 pie app swticher
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Now, ten years after the launch of Android on smartphones, we’re at Android 9.0 Pie. Android Pie brings with it a number of visual changes — so much so, that from a visual perspective, it’s the biggest change to Android in a few years.

Most notably, Android 9.0 Pie does away with the three button setup that has existed in Android for years, replacing it with a single pill-shaped button and gestures for controlling things like multitasking. Android 9.0 Pie also brings with it some changes to notifications, including extra control over the types of notifications that show up and where they show up, as well as Google’s new “Digital Wellbeing,” a feature that essentially tells you how often you use your phone, the apps that you use the most, and so on. The feature is aimed at helping users better manage their digital lives and curb smartphone addiction.

Other features include adaptive battery, which limits how much battery background apps can use, as well as “App Actions,” which are deep-links to certain app features that show up straight from the app drawer.

That’s a brief history of Android to date. The mobile operating system just hit its 10-year anniversary, despite the current version being called Android 9.0 Pie.

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