Know Your Versions: Highlights of Each Android Update

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Before buying an Android phone, you should find out which flavor of the operating system you'll get. Each tastily nicknamed update delivers new features, so it's important to find out what your Android phone will have--and what it might be missing.

Android version 1.5 (Cupcake)
Released April 30, 2009

  • Video capture and playback
  • Direct video upload to YouTube
  • Direct photo upload to Picasa
  • Bluetooth A2DP support
  • Desktop folders and widgets
  • Copy/paste expanded to Web pages
  • Updated software keyboard

Android version 1.6 (Donut)
Released September 15, 2009

  • Gallery allows deletion of multiple photos at once
  • Enhanced Android Marketplace
  • Faster Voice Search with deeper integration in native applications
  • One interface for camera and camcorder gallery
  • Ability to search bookmarks, history, contacts, and the Web from home screen via Search widget
  • Text-to-speech engine

Android version 2.0/2.1 (Éclair)
Released October 26, 2009

  • Spruced-up user interface
  • Animated wallpapers
  • New browser interface with HTML5 support
  • Microsoft Exchange
  • New contact lists
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • Enhanced software keyboard
  • Built-in flash support and digital zoom for camera
  • Better white/black ratio for backgrounds

Android version 2.2 (FroYo)
Released May 20, 2010

  • Overall speed and performance boost
  • Increased Microsoft Exchange Support
  • USB tethering
  • Wi-Fi hotspot functionality
  • Voice dialing and contact sharing over Bluetooth
  • Adobe Flash 10.1 Support

Android version 2.3/2.3.3 (Gingerbread)
Released December 6, 2010

  • Native support for Internet calling
  • Enhanced copy/paste
  • Access multiple cameras on device
  • Native support for gyroscopes and barometers
  • Near Field Communication (NFC)support
  • Updated user interface for simplicity and speed


  • Support for voice or video chat using Google Talk.

Android Version 3.0/3.1 (Honeycomb)
Released February 24, 2011


  • Optimized for tablets with a completely new user interface
  • Systems Bar gives quick access to notifications, status and soft navigation buttons
  • Widgets provide active access to content directly from your home screen or systems barNew multitasking feature lets you see snapshots of the most recently used apps
  • Tabbed Web browsing
  • Two-paned e-mail interface


  • Additional user interface refinements
  • Support for USB devices attached to tablet, so you can use an external keyboard, mouse, joystick, gamepad or storage device
  • Expanded Recent Apps list lets you scroll through recently opened apps
  • Introduced resizable widgets
  • Fixed image rendering problem in Android 3.0

Ice Cream Sandwich
Official release in Q4 2011

Ice Cream Sandwich will be a combination of Gingerbread and Honeycomb into a "one OS that runs everywhere," according to Google. Google showed off a few of the new features of Ice Cream Sandwich at Google I/O 2011 including face-tracking for video calls and enhanced NFC support.

For comprehensive tips about Android and reviews of the best apps and devices to help you get the most out of the mobile operating system, order PCWorld's Android Superguide, on CD-ROM or in a convenient, downloadable PDF file.

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