New York City, Tuesday, September 23, 2008. CEOs of HTC, Google, T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom took to the stage to introduce Android 1.0, a brand new mobile operating system, and G1 , the first smartphone to run this platform. It was clear that they had a vision for the future of Android.
Company representatives have spent a lot of time talking about the “openness” of the operating system and see this as an incentive for third parties to develop applications for Android. They said, “We want to provide a range of new devices, apps and services for people to tap into the worldwide mobile internet trend.”
Larry Page and Sergey Brin, co-CEOs of Google at the time, showed up. Brin demonstrated the first app he’s written for Android, which calculates how long the G1 stays in the air when it’s thrown up and down. The two are clearly enamored with the new platform and talk about its potential.
Together, the software and hardware shown that day laid the foundation for Android as we know it today.
But what is Android 1.0 really like? What features does it have? What features does it lack? To celebrate Android 1.0’s 13th anniversary, here’s what we remember about Android’s first steps into the world.
Android 1.0: An experience both familiar and strange
There were a lot of mobile operating systems that competed in the fall of 2008. Apple’s iOS was only a year old and fell short of the leading BlackBerry OS and Symbian operating systems in terms of scale. Windows Mobile and Palm OS are also still available. Google and its Android developers picked a few elements for Android from established platforms but also introduced a bunch of new ideas that are still part of Android.
Android 1.0 has three home screens. The central home screen contains pre-loaded apps and widgets. You can swipe left or right to add more apps/widgets to other screens if you want – something you can still do with Android today. Android’s implementation of widgets was quite novel at the time. While platforms of those days like Windows Mobile included widgets, they weren’t as customizable or as diverse as on Android.
Android 1.0 includes an app drawer, which is accessed by tapping a virtual button at the bottom of the home screen. However, the basic functionality remains the same today. Android 1.0’s settings menu is laid out in a way similar to what we have in modern Android, but the quick settings menu doesn’t exist yet. iOS 2 on the 2008 iPhone doesn’t have an app drawer, but Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices have comparable features.
Android at this time still focuses on physical keys. Anyone who has used Android since the early days will probably remember all the buttons to control the operating system. Important keys like the back, home and menu buttons are needed to perform some navigation and actions. There’s not even a virtual keyboard; The G1 requires you to use a physical QWERTY keyboard. Physical Menu button for users to access to change wallpaper, notifications, settings, search, …
Of course, the platform is now fully touch-enabled, and gestures will perform the same actions. Out of all the platforms available in 2008, only the iPhone was fully touch-enabled. BlackBerry, Symbian, and Windows all rely heavily on physical buttons.
Android 1.0’s notification handling was a strength of the platform and something we still believe in to this day. The way notifications pop up quickly in the status bar has been followed by other platforms.
A Google search bar was integrated from the beginning and still exists today. Even the first version of this search engine included text autocomplete to help people perform searches faster.
You can create a pattern to unlock the device, which is still available on Android today.
Apple introduced the App Store with iOS 2 in July 2008, just before Android launched. At the time, generic app stores on devices were rare. Most of the applications in the machine are available directly from the manufacturer or from online distributors that do not guarantee. Thankfully, Google has followed Apple’s model.
The early Android 1.0 apps were rudimentary but fully functional. Google’s own Gmail, calendar, calculator, Maps, and YouTube were among the earliest available. Third-party apps can be downloaded from the Android Market, the original version of the Google Play store. Android Market 1.0 is very basic and very few applications. It’s mostly a text-based experience with few images.
In particular, Gmail in this period supported push, IMAP/POP and SMTP, giving it an edge on some platforms. YouTube, on the other hand, offers a bad experience. The browser at the time wasn’t even called Chrome. It is based on WebKit, but does not initially support Flash.
The camera app isn’t impressive at all. For example, every time you take a photo, you’ll see a pop-up asking if you want to save, place, share, or delete the photo. This window appears every time which makes the user very uncomfortable. The camera app can’t record videos either, and there’s no photo mode or feature either.
Google Maps is a huge advantage. While Google Maps is already available for other platforms, such as BlackBerry OS, Maps for Android is a big step forward. It includes a lively Street View mode, which helps you navigate around the map so you can identify landmarks before you start your journey.
Setting the stage for the future of Android
There’s no doubt that Android 1.0 has been strong from the start. It brings together a wide range of ideas under one platform and makes bold promises. At the time, it was still not as popular a choice as it is today. At the time, only T-Mobile in the US offered the G1. The G1 didn’t reach other markets until early 2009. In general, Android devices didn’t sell in large numbers until Verizon Wireless launched the Motorola Droid in the fall of 2009 – a year after its launch. this platform. And then we were on Android 2.0.
But those early days were crucial to building the foundation for Android. Google was quick to talk about future versions of the platform, including Cupcake and Donut, which the company promises will add features and fix bugs over time. This helped build expectations from users. Moreover, Android quickly gained favor with developers and the modding community, as it opened in a way that BlackBerry OS, iOS, PalmOS and Symbian did not. Finally, we have the popular Android it is today.