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Android’s Dessert-Style Code names; How it all started

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Most of Android’s releases have had dessert-style code names but the very first version of the OS (1.0) which was publicly released on Sept. 2008 did not have a code name at all. Either internally or publicly.

Sept. 2008 also saw the announcement of the very first Android smartphone, the T-Mobile G1, also known as the HTC Dream in other parts of the world which went on sale in the U.S. Oct. of that year. The phone, with its pop-up 3.2-inch touchscreen combined with a QWERTY physical keyboard, got really bad reviews overall from technology media outlets. I kid you not, it didn’t even have a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack, which unlike today, this was pretty much an important phone feature among Android’s competition.

Android engineer Jean-Baptiste Queru told Android Police in 2012 that Android 1.1, released in Feb. 2009, also didn’t have a public code name. But, it reportedly used the internal name “Petit four” while in development at Google. This is a reference to a French dessert.

The first couple versions of Android may not have had sweet names like we are accustomed to, but Google ended up adopting alphabetically dessert-themed code names for major releases.

A decade ago, the launch of Android 1.5 in April 2009, saw the OS version get its first public code name, “Cupcake.” As much as it was the first version update to use a dessert-themed naming scheme, It was also an important update to the fledgling operating system as it introduced an on-screen keyboard.

Google has steadfastly kept up the convention ever since, but it was always clear the practice couldn’t last forever as the alphabet contains just 26 letters.

Not only would the search giant run out of letters in the alphabet, but in the case of Android Q, there aren’t that many desserts that start with letter Q, this being the next character in line after Android 9.0 Pie. I for one know of quiche, although I don’t know how many would feel about Q being code-named “Android Quiche.” (LOL)

Ryan Gibson, project manager at Google, is the man behind the naming of Android versions after sweet candy and desserts. Although, his specific reasons for using a particular name remain a mystery. 

Officially, when it released Android 4.4 KitKat, Google stated later that the reason for using dessert and treat names for Android versions was simple:

“Since these devices make our lives so sweet, each Android version is named after a dessert.”

The dessert-style naming tradition continued with subsequent Android version launches, with each release getting a name in alphabetical order after Cupcake. Cupcake led to Donut, you’d probably remember fondly the likes of Ice Cream Sandwich, Gingerbread, and of course Kit-Kat, and after a few updates, to Android 9 Pie in 2018.

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Android 1.5 Cupcake

An interesting and fun side to the desserts is that along the way, Google also came up with a tradition of introducing new statues in its Googleplex campus. Whenever Google finally revealed its code name every year, it also placed a new statue with that code name on the lawn in front of the company’s Visitor Center building in Mountain View, California.

Now that Google has decided to no longer use its tasty codenames for Android 10, will they still put up the statues at their campus?

The codenames even included real trademarked treats, such as Android 4.4, which used Nestle’s KitKat candy bar. More recently, Android 8.0 took on the Oreo name for its branding.

From as early as smartphones have been around, Google has named its new Android releases after desserts, but these will be no more as 10 years later, Google is now scrapping the sugary names for its Android version updates starting with Android Q, which will now be called Android 10.

On Thursday, Google announced a number of marketing changes coming to its Android mobile operating system, starting with how it names its releases.

Below is the order of Android’s alphabetical dessert-style code names of its previous updates before Q;

Android version Android code name Android release date
Android 1.0 No code name September 2008
Android 1.1 Petit four (rumored internal code name) February 2009
Android 1.5 Cupcake April 2009
Android 1.6 Donut September 2009
Android 2.0 Eclair October 2009
Android 2.2 Froyo May 2010
Android 2.3 Gingerbread September 2010
Android 3.0 Honeycomb February 2011
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich October 2011
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean June 2012
Android 4.4 KitKat September 2013
Android 5.0 Lollipop October 2014
Android 6.0 Marshmallow October 2015
Android 7.0 Nougat October 2016
Android 8.0 Oreo October 2017
Android 9 Pie August 2018
Android 10 No code name August 2019


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