It all began in 2009 when Google announced Android 1.6 Donut as an update to the open-source operating system, bringing in support for CDMA phones and larger screen sizes. Donut was followed by Android 2.1 Eclair later that year which brought in support for NFC and session initiation protocol for VoIP calls.
Six months later, came in Froyo, Android's take on the frozen yoghurt, replacing chewy names with something you could sip on. Android 2.2 Froyo was instrumental in bringing in USB tethering and Wi-Fi hotspot functionality to Android phones for the first time. Later in 2010, Google introduced Android 2.3 Gingerbread- the first Android OS version to power a Nexus phone. The Nexus S ran on Gingerbread and came with NFC functionality.
Android Gingerbread was followed by little-known Honeycomb which was basically meant for larger devices, especially tablets. Thanks to the new OS, tablet users could view notifications, widgets and multitask with greater ease. For Android smartphones, Google brought in Ice Cream Sandwich, better known as Android 4.0 in the summer of 2012 which brought in an updated browser, social network integration in contacts and the ability to access camera and music from the lock screen.
The ice, however, didn't really last long and paved the way for Android 4.1 Jelly Bean which was unveiled by Google in June of 2012. Jelly Bean brought in better graphic output, a better powered CPU, performance improvements, ushered in the era of Google Now as a rival to Apple's Siri and powered Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 devices.
Then in 2013 came Android 4.4 KitKat, bringing in better optimization and improved performance in low-level devices and introducing "host card emulation" for near-field communications, allowing apps to emulate smart cards while making contactless payments.
KitKat was followed by Android 5.0 Lollipop in 2014 which still powers 35 per cent of Android smartphones today, even though it is almost two generations old. A number of smartphone makers have continued to launch new devices with Lollipop even though its successor, Android 6.0 Marshmallow, is nearly a year old.
With Android 6.0 Marshmallow which was launched last year, Android phone users could make use of the Now on Tap feature, native support for fingerprint recognition and USB Type-C ports, and powered the popular Huawei Nexus 6P and LG Nexus 5X phones. Later on, premium flagship phones like Samsung Galaxy S7, LG G5 and HTC 10 also arrived with Android 6.0 Marshmallow on-board.