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Exclusive: The 10 Greatest Versions of Android, Ranked

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The 10 Greatest Versions of Android, Ranked

#Greatest #Versions #Android #Ranked

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Android, first released in 2008, is still a relatively young operating system. However, with some years seeing multiple updates, there have been plenty of Android versions to look at. Some were better than others, so let’s rank the 10 greatest.

The Ranking Criteria

Ultimately, any “best” list is going to come down to the author’s preference, and this list will be no different.

As a long-time Android user—going all the way back to Android 1.5—I have experience with nearly every version of Android. Android makes things complicated, though. My experience with Android on a Pixel could be very different than someone else’s experience with the same version on a Samsung phone.

I won’t be simply ranking the versions based on which has the best features, as that would skew heavily toward the newest versions. Rather, I’ll be considering the impact that each release had on the platform as a whole.

Will you probably agree with my list entirely? Nope! Let’s begin.

RELATED: What Are Android Skins?

#10: Android 5.0 Lollipop

android lollipop
Android

Let’s start at the bottom of the list with a controversial Android version. Released in 2014, Android 5.0 Lollipop gave us our first taste of “Material Design.” This marked yet another major design revamp for Android, but one that has arguably aged the best.

Beyond aesthetic changes, there were some major things happening under the surface, too. Android switched from Dalvik to ART (Android Runtime), which improved the performance of apps. That’s why most Android apps today support Android 5.0 and above.

While Lollipop looked great on the surface, it was plagued by bugs. Memory management was a mess on many devices, causing apps to be closed in the background too often. There were also many annoyances with the new notification system.

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Lollipop was important for the future of Android, but it had a lot of hiccups.

#9: Android 6.0 Marshmallow

android marshmallow
Joe Fedewa

Speaking of bugs, let’s talk about the version that fixed a lot of Lollipop’s issues. Released in 2015, Android 6.0 Marshmallow didn’t have the fanfare of other releases, but it was sneakily very important.

Marshmallow introduced a major change in how Android handles app permissions. Rather than asking you to grant all permissions at the time of installing the app, you can grant them as needed. That means that you’re only giving an app access to, for example, your files if you specifically do something that requires that permission.

#8: Android 7.0-7.1 Nougat

android nougat
AOSP

Android 7.0 Nougat was released in 2016 and it was another refining update. By this time, Material Design was becoming more polished and fleshed out. Android had a nice, consistent look.

Nougat finally brought split-screen mode to “stock” Android. Before this, phone makers had implemented their own methods for split-screen mode, but Nougat made it a standard feature. This release also made “Doze,” a feature intended to save battery life, work a little better.

Perhaps the biggest thing that Nougat brought was Google Assistant. This was the version of Android that launched on Google’s first Pixel phone, and it was tightly integrated with the operating system. Google Assistant now comes on all Android devices by default.

RELATED: What Is Google Assistant, and What Can It Do?

#7: Android 9 Pie

android pie
Android

When Android 9 Pie was released in 2018, the reception to it was mixed. For the first time, Android didn’t have a Recents/Overview button. The navigation consisted of a pill-shaped home button for gestures and a small contextual back button.

While the half-baked gestures were soon replaced with Android 10, some other features had a more lasting impact. Digital Wellbeing, a suite of tools to help people form better usage habits, was included for the first time. Machine learning-powered battery saving and screen brightness were also introduced.

A big part of Android Pie was privacy. Android got better control over when apps could access your camera and microphone. There were a lot of little things that greatly improved the overall privacy and security of the operating system.

RELATED: Google Digital Wellbeing Review: A Strong Nudge Towards Disconnecting

#6: Android 2.0-2.1 Eclair

android eclair
Android Developers

By far the oldest entry on this list, Android 2.0 Eclair was released in 2009 just six weeks after Android 1.6. This was a monumental update for the operating system at the time.

Eclair introduced many things that we take for granted today: Voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation in Google Maps, live wallpapers, speech-to-text, and even pinch-to-zoom. (Yes, Android didn’t have pinch-to-zoom at first.)

If you were an Android user at this time, Eclair was the update. I still remember when my HTC Eris got the update and I could use the navigation in Google Maps. It was legitimately life-changing. And can you imagine using a phone without pinch-to-zoom?

#5: Android 4.1-4.3 Jelly Bean

android jelly bean
AOSP

Android Jelly Bean contained three updates from 2012 to 2013. Coming from the major design overhaul in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean was all about refinement.

One of the most notable features in Jelly Bean was the introduction of the Quick Settings panel. This is a feature that has become standard on almost all smartphones. It brought several toggles that were buried in the settings out to a more convenient place.

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Jelly Bean was also our first taste of “Google Now,” which has since been abandoned. The concept of predictive information that could help you throughout the day was pretty incredible at the time. It stuck around for a while, but was eventually replaced by Google Assistant.

Another cool feature from Jelly Bean that Google has since abandoned was Lock Screen Widgets. It was neat to have quick access to handy widgets without having to unlock your phone, but maybe not so easy for the average consumer to use.

#4: Android 4.4 KitKat

android kitkat
Android

In 2013, Google released the first branded version of Android, 4.4 KitKat. Previous versions of Android had become dark with neon highlights. KitKat took things in the opposite direction with light backgrounds and muted highlights.

This was the first version of Android that had a transparent status bar at the top of the home screen. It also marked the switch to single-color icons in the status bar, which in this case was white. These small aesthetic changes made the notification area look a lot cleaner.

KitKat was the first version of Android that supported the “OK Google” wake commands. At this time, it only worked with the screen on, but it was an important beginning step for what would eventually become Google Assistant.

Android fans may remember KitKat as the version that launched on the Nexus 5. To this day, the Nexus 5 is arguably the most beloved smartphone that Google has released. It was a great marriage between software and hardware.

#3: Android 10

📸 Android

Android 10, released in 2019, was the first version to drop the dessert nicknames. This signaled that Google was hoping to take Android in a more “mature” direction.

The most noticeable change in Android 10 was the full-screen gesture navigation. Android Pie started the transition away from a navigation bar and buttons, but Android 10 fully realized it. For the first time, Android didn’t have “Home” and “Back” buttons.

Another big addition in Android 10 was the system-wide dark theme. By flipping a switch, you can control the theme of any app that supports the system setting. No more choosing themes on an app-by-app basis (unless you really want to). Android’s base color had slowly become quite white and bright, so this was a very welcomed feature.

Android 10 had many features, but another important one was better control over permissions. Users finally got more control over which apps could access their locations. This is something Google has been working on quite a bit in recent years, and Android 10 was a big step forward.

#2: Android 8.0-8.1 Oreo

android oreo
Android

Released in 2017, Android Oreo didn’t bring a massive design revamp, but it was quietly one of the most stable and refined versions of the operating system. This was the second time that Google went with a brand for the dessert nickname.

Android Oreo wasn’t short on features, though. Picture-in-picture became a native feature, Notification Channels brought tons of customizations to notifications, and even selecting text got new options.

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Perhaps one of the most convenient features to ever come to Android was introduced with Oreo: Password Autofill. Just like in the Chrome browser, Android could remember your login for apps, making it drastically easier to use apps and set up new devices.

Android Oreo also introduced Project Treble, which promised to improve the update situation that has plagued Android for years. Four years later, has it made a difference? Probably not as much as Google had hoped.

Oh, and RIP to the blob emojis.

RELATED: What Are Android Notification Channels?

#1: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

android ICS
Android Developers

Ice Cream Sandwich was released in 2011, and diehard Android fans will remember it as a pretty big deal. This was the first time that Android actually looked like a modern operating system thanks to the newly hired design chief Matias Duarte.

Android 3.0 Honeycomb, which was only for tablets, introduced the neon “Holo UI.” Ice Cream Sandwich (commonly called “ICS”) refined the Holo UI and brought it to phones, unifying the two device categories. Not everyone is a fan of how Google merged tablets and phones, but it was unquestionably a major change for the platform.

Ice Cream Sandwich brought richer notifications that could be swiped away for the first time in Android’s history. Honeycomb’s revamped and more visual Recents menu was brought over. Face Unlock was added as a new security method.

It really can’t be emphasized enough how big of a deal the Holo UI was for Android. Before it, Android didn’t really have a design language. It was very basic and looked like something designed for developers. Ice Cream Sandwich finally made it seem more friendly to use.

Ice Cream Sandwich was launched on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Android nerds drooled over the hype video for the release. This was when it felt like Android finally grew up and Google was taking it seriously as a mainstream operating system.


This was a difficult list to put together, and it could be made in a completely different order with valid arguments. Every Android release has added something important, but some had bigger impacts overall. Hopefully, the next big feature is just around the corner.

RELATED: Android 12’s Dev Preview Promises a Cleaner, Faster, More Immersive Experience


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Exclusive: Toyota Tundra Pickup, BZ4X EV Recalled for Separate Issues – CNET – TalkOfNews.com

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Toyota Tundra Pickup, BZ4X EV Recalled for Separate Issues     - CNET

#Toyota #Tundra #Pickup #BZ4X #Recalled #Separate #Issues #CNET

What’s happening

Toyota issued two voluntary recalls for the Tundra pickup and BZ4X EV, affecting more than 46,000 cars in the US.

Why it matters

Toyota urged BZ4X owners to not drive their cars until recall work is completed.

What’s next

The repair work will be completed free of charge, and owners will be notified in July.

Toyota announced a pair of voluntary safety recalls this week affecting two of its newest products. The 2022 Tundra pickup and 2023 BZ4X electric SUV are the subjects of two separate recalls that cover more than 46,000 vehicles in the US.

The Tundra recall concerns rear axle nuts that can loosen over time and potentially fall off. “If complete separation occurs, this can affect vehicle stability and brake performance, increasing the risk of a crash,” Toyota said in a statement. Owners of the defective trucks will be notified by the end of July, and Toyota says approximately 46,000 Tundras are affected.

The BZ4X recall is significantly smaller; Toyota says roughly 260 vehicles are involved. This one is far more serious, however. “After low-mileage use, all of the hub bolts on the wheel can loosen to the point where the wheel can detach from the vehicle,” Toyota said. It’s pretty obvious why this is not good.

In fact, Toyota says the affected BZ4X SUVs should not be driven until a fix is performed. However, “no remedy is available at this time,” Toyota said. “Until the remedy is available, any authorized Toyota dealer will pick up the vehicle and provide a loaner vehicle free of charge to the owner.”

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This recall also applies to the BZ4X’s kissin’ cousin, the Subaru Solterra. According to Reuters, about 2,600 Solterras are affected globally, though a US spokesperson said none of the EVs have been delivered to customers.

To check if your car is affected by this or any other recall, visit CNET’s how-to guide.

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Exclusive: Instagram testing methods for age verification with video selfies, AI & social vouching – TalkOfNews.com

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Instagram testing methods for age verification with video selfies, AI & social vouching

#Instagram #testing #methods #age #verification #video #selfies #amp #social #vouching

Verifying a user’s age is one of the biggest challenges that social media platforms face today. To counter that, Meta-owned Instagram is now testing a number of new methods for age verification, including having the user upload a video selfie and then letting their own piece of AI software judge their age.

At present, some users when they update their date of birth on the platform to reflect that they are over 18, are required to show upload an ID. Because Instagram has encountered several cases where teenagers have used fake IDs, they had to come up with a new way to verify their age. Instagram also had to face concerned parents and patrons over the fact that people had to upload IDs, given Meta’s coloured history with collecting a user’s data.

While the ID-based system will stay on for the time being, Instagram is developing a number of other ways to verify the age of a user. In a test run, they are asking users to get three mutual friends who can verify their age. They are calling this “social vouching,” although clearly, there is a lot of potential for abuse here.

The most interesting way that they are going about this age verification business is by using AI. Instagram is asking some users to shoot a selfie video and submit it for verification. An AI bot will then study the footage and check for a number of parameters, and then “judge” whether one is indeed over the age of 18 years.

Instagram is using the services of an online verification company called Yoti, a company that uses AI to verify the user’s age.

Instagram will now test age verification via video selfies, Artificial Intelligence and social vouching

Instagram says that Yoti trains its AI on “anonymous images of diverse people from around the world who have transparently allowed Yoti to use their data and who can ask Yoti to delete their data at any time.” And for people under the age of 13, Yoti collected data with parents or guardians giving explicit consent.

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Instagram says that once you upload a video selfie and Yoti uses it to confirm your age, the image isn’t used for anything else, and is deleted after your age has been confirmed. However, given Instagram’s parent company Meta’s history of misusing user data, one should be cautious to take this approach.


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Exclusive: Here’s Google’s letter saying employees can relocate to states with abortion rights – TalkOfNews.com

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Here’s Google’s letter saying employees can relocate to states with abortion rights

#Heres #Googles #letter #employees #relocate #states #abortion #rights

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade, Google’s chief people officer Fiona Cicconi sent a staff-wide email to employees on Friday informing them of Google’s response to the ruling. Among other things, the email states that Googlers that they can “apply for relocation without justification,” and that people in charge of the relocation process “will be aware of the situation” in assessing their requests.

The Supreme Court’s ruling does not make abortion illegal throughout the US — instead, it leaves the decision up to individual states. A number of states have immediately restricted abortion rights, including Louisiana, Missouri and Kentucky. Other states, including California, where Google is headquartered, have vowed to protect abortion rights within their borders.

Here’s the letter in full:

Hi everyone,

This morning the US Supreme Court issued a ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that rolls back Roe v. Wade.

This is a profound change for the country that deeply affects so many of us, especially women. Everyone will respond in their own way, whether that’s wanting space and time to process, speaking up, volunteering outside of work, not wanting to discuss it at all, or something else entirely. Please be mindful of what your co-workers may be feeling and, as always, treat each other with respect.

Equity is extraordinarily important to us as a company, and we share concerns about the impact this ruling will have on people’s health, lives, and careers. We will keep working to make information on reproductive healthcare accessible across our products and continue our work to protect user privacy.

To support Googlers and their dependents, our US benefits plan and health insurance covers out-of-state medical procedures that are not available where an employee lives and works. Googlers can also apply for relocation without justification, and those overseeing this process will be aware of the situation. If you need additional support, please connect 1:1 with a People Consultant via [link to internal tool redacted].

We will be arranging support sessions for Googlers in the US in the coming days. These will be posted to Googler News.

Please don’t hesitate to lean on your Google community in the days ahead and continue to take good care of yourselves and each other.

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The Verge has reached out to Google to clarify whether the relocation policy is new, or if it’s be changed due to the Supreme Court’s decision. We will update this story if we hear back.

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