The HTC G1. A white plastic slider phone with a physical QWERTY keyboard and a trackball for navigation. Back, home and menu buttons that weve grown to love (or hate) sit under a relatively small touchscreen display. Its 2008. Its the first commercially available phone to ever run Android.
One billion activations and five years later, Android is massively popular, and is virtually unrecognisable from the days when it would cower under the iPhone and Microsofts measly attempts involving Windows Mobile 6. Android 4.4 KitKat, the next major version, now sits on the horizon, and we wait for greatly-anticipated app redesigns and an accompanying new Nexus phone.
While the G1 – with a 320x480 display, 528 MHz processor and 192 MB of RAM – was the first commercially available Android phone, its worth noting that the software was in development for some time prior to this announcement. Originally planned to be software for a digital camera, Android was written over a span of five years, notably after Google acquired the company in 2005.
Since then, the platform has suffered some controversy, whether over the amount of malware found in apps available on the Play Store, or the fact that in its early years, the software was slow and far off the competition. With Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, Google redesigned the software and brought it in line with the iPhone and other competitors; later they removed most signs of lag in 4.1 Jelly Bean.
Nevertheless, the issue of fragmentation has remained: Less than 40 percent of phones run Jelly Bean, and a whole 30 percent are still running Gingerbread, a 3-year-old version. In comparison, iOS 7 is currently installed on 58 percent of Apple devices, less than a week after launch. In addition, skins such as Samsungs TouchWiz have arguably damaged Androids reputation, as they remove much of the design initiative that Google have spent so long working on.
But remember: Android is big and successful. In its stock form, it is a fantastic mobile OS, and we cannot wait to see what Google have in store in the future.
Image: Hexmar on Flickr