EVOLUTION OF THE ANDROID  OS  –  A Technology Report Guest Post

By Charlie O’Hay

Released in September 2008, the Android OS has gone through an abundance of incarnations—ever increasing its functionality and flexibility—though not all of the transitional versions were made commercially available.  Here, we’ll trace the Android OS timeline and define the features and advantages of each version available to consumers.

Version 1.0

Released in September 2008, this version was designed for the HTC Dream / T-Mobile G1, but ended up not being used on any commercially available device.

Version 1.1

This version tweaked 1.0 and was commercially released exclusively for the HTC Dream (T-Mobile G1) in October, 2008. Adjustments resolved some of the bugs experienced with version 1.0. Features included web browser, Gmail synchronization (with app), Google Search, Google Maps, Google Calendar, Google Contacts, Google Talk, instant messaging, text messaging, and media player.


Version 1.5

Released in April 2009 and codenamed “Cupcake” by Google, this version was the first major release to be made available in a range of devices. Features included camcorder support to record and watch videos, easy upload of images and videos to websites like Picasa and Youtube, Bluetooth enhancements, animation on screen transitions, and an on-screen keyboard with predictive text.

Version 1.6

Nicknamed “Donut,” this September 2009 release included new camera, camcorder, and photo gallery interfaces, improved voice search technology, Google navigation, text-to-speech engine, multi-touch gesture support, and Virtual Private Network support.

Versions 2.0 and 2.1

Version 2.0 (October 2009) was quickly followed in January 2010 by Version 2.1, consequently 2.0 appears in few devices. Version 2.1 (nicknamed “Éclair”) has proven quite successful, owing largely to its improved user interface, enhanced speed, improved virtual keyboard, Contact and Account improvements, and an array of camera enhancements—including flash, digital zoom, white balance, scene modes, and macro zoom.

Version 2.2

Nicknamed “FroYo” and released in November 2010, version 2.2 allowed tethering to as many as eight WiFi “hot spots” or connection via USB. Other enhancements included camera improvements, multi-lingual keyboard support, quicker app access and faster browsing, Bluetooth improvements, and Microsoft Exchange.

Version 2.3

“Gingerbread,” as it was called, was released in December 2010 and offered an improved user interface, a faster and more intuitive virtual keyboard, copy/paste capability, improved power usage status and power management, internet phone calling, Near-Field Communication support and tagging, new download manager, front and rear cameras, and support for barometer, gravity, gyroscope, linear acceleration, and rotation.

Version 3.0

Released in February 2011, “Honeycomb” was the first Android OS to target the large-screen tablet devices. Features geared to tablet users included a new system bar, action bar, a customizable home screen, and a list of recently used/downloaded apps. The keyboard was again streamlined and the copy, cut, and paste functionality improved. Other features included Bluetooth tethering, support for physical keyboards, multi-core processor support, 2D and 3D graphics support, and applications for larger screens including browser, camera, gallery, contact and email.

Version 3.1

This June 2011 update retained the nickname “Honeycomb” included improvements for tablet users—including navigation and animation improvements essential for entertainment purposes and playing Android games. USB support for a more varied array of accessories (including keyboard, mouse, and digital camera), support for joysticks and gamepads, improved WiFi networking stability, expanded recent apps list and updated set of standard apps (browser, gallery calendar, contacts, and email).

Version 3.2

Still called “Honeycomb,” this July 2011 version continued to provide enhancements for tablet users—including compatibility zoom for fixed-sized applications, direct application access to SD card file system, and extended ability to handle different screen sizes.

Version 4.0

Released in October 2011, “Ice Cream Sandwich” merged the phone-based design of the second generation with the tab-centered design of the tablet-friendly third generation.  The user interface and apps selection were again redesigned, and users could now save often used items in home folders and a favorites tray. Other improvements included resizable widgets, lock screen, network data control, and faster call response. Users also benefitted from camera/camcorder improvements (including image stabilization, the ability to take still shots during video, and photo editing). The browser could now deliver full-sized web page appearance, and this version featured improved email, NFC-based sharing, and WiFi-direct suppotrt.

Version 4.1

Released in July 2012, “Jellybean,” as it was called, included even more user interface enhancements (including improved touch response and transitions; expandable, actionable notifications; and adaptive keyboard). Other popular features included the ability to instantly review photos, external Braille input and output via USB, enhanced voice search capability, photo sharing, USB audio, and Google Wallet.

Version 4.2

The most recent Android OS version to date maintains the “Jellybean” name and allows multiple users for tablets, a PhotoSphere feature that allows 360º images, keyboard gesture typing, Daydream feature to display info while a user’s device is isle or docked, and the ability to beam photos or videos to another device.

This is a guest post by Charlie O’Hay, a tech expert & Big Fish Android games enthusiast.


CES 2012 Press Releases

CES 2012 Press Releases

Is BigDeal a Big Deal? Nope, it’s more like gambling

BigDeal.com is a strange website that really begs for more explanation from the founders about their motivation, though I think it can be summed up as a way to try to disguise gambling as shopping.

My first reaction to the site was to be impressed – at first glance BigDeal is along the lines of an “auction” where participants bid on items as a clock ticks down.     Adding 30 seconds to the clock for bids near the end of the timeout period seemed to make it more fair, allowing others  to participate.

The incredibly low pricing on things like iPads seemed too good to be true and alas as with most things internet … it was not only too good to be true, it almost seems too bad to be legal.

Participation in this auction is the junky part of BigDeal, because *it costs to bid*, and it can cost a lot.  Participants purchase “bid tokens” for  0.75 per token.     Since auctions can have an unlimited number of bids the low prices the products finally sell for are not very relevant – bidders may have spent even more than the *full price* on the item simply getting in their bids.     BigDeal mitigates this disadvantage to some degree by offering some bidders credits on bid tokens to then purchase items for full price, but I think an average item fetches them a remarkable amount in bid revenue – sometimes far more than the full value of the item.

So Big Deal is not so much shopping as it is gambling.    Bidding is betting here, and your odds of winding up with a “big deal” … do not appear to be good at all.

Update:  Here’s an January article from TechCrunch that addresses the issues very well in my opinion.

No Touch Computing via 3D Sensors

The San Jose Mercury News has a summary today of the advent of “no touch” computing that will be coming fairly soon thanks to three dimensional sensors that represent the world to the machine in a much richer fashion than simple flat, 2 dimensional models.     3D sensors will allow people to interact with many devices in a much more natural way – for example via simply looking at a screen and moving your hands you could have dramatic control over a gaming environment.

The Mercury News seems to be suggesting that useful applications are about 5 years out but I’d guess we’ll have robust no touch devices within 3 years and high quality direct brain control within a decade.    Braingate is already using brain control and  Emotiv has developed a commercial version brain control device that uses theta waves that are read froma sensory “cap” with about 16 sensors.      The Emotiv headset will be available to consumers this year.

Mercury News article

Onlive online gaming coming to a cloud near you.

Onlive, in stealth development for the past seven years, launched as a beta today at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.     We’ve not done any testing but the claims of this service are quite extraordinary and unless they fail to deliver on the promises this could actually become something of the  gaming revolution Onlive claims to be as they plan to move console users off their expensive devices and into the cloud and compete very directly with the shrinkwrapped video game market, providing instant streaming and downloads of the latest major games.    Onlive allows users to access most popular console video games, download and play them over broadband on a computer or TV using a special adapter.

Historically console games have had perceived advantages over PC based games but Onlive suggests they’ve bridged that gap and that their massive server infrastructure combine with special coding of the applications such that a normal computer equipped with broadband will see outstanding game play.