20 Things You Might Not Know About Android

By Spencer Hart on at

We love a new Nexus release, it's a chance for Google to showcase the optimum compromise of decent specs and an affordable price. Of course, it also means we get to see Android, our favourite mobile operating system (well, Google didn't call the bailiffs on us, did they?) in its purest form. No TouchWiz, or Sense UI, just vanilla Android.

As we all prepare for a new Nexus release later this afternoon, let's take an in-depth look at Android with 20 things you may not know about the mobile OS.

1.) Android was initially developed for digital cameras

In an interview with PC World, Andy Rubin said the original concept of Android was for 'a camera platform with a cloud portion for storing images online'. This was pitched to investors in 2004. The concept had changed by 2005, as the growth in digital cameras was slowing down, but the interest in smartphones intensified.

[Image Credit: Samsung]

2.) The first Android prototype was more BlackBerry than iPhone

Before the iPhone was announced the prototype Android device HTC was working on resembled a BlackBerry headset, QWERTY keyboard and all. Thankfully HTC saw the light, and released the G1 instead.

[Image Credit: Gizmodo US]

3.) Android got Google’s CEO kicked off the Apple board

Eric Schmidt joined Steve Jobs on stage during the first iPhone announcement, Google was a major part of the iOS experience (in search, maps and advertising). But as Google began to step on Apple’s toes, first with smartphones, then with tablets, a rift began to open between the companies.

[Image Credit: Gizmodo US]

4.) The Android mascot is named Bugdroid

The Android mascot doesn't have an official name but the team of Google developers call him Bugdroid. Maybe because they’re always chasing down bugs? A graphic designer by the name of Irina Blok was tasked with designing him, with just a few days to complete the little green character; she apparently got inspiration from the figures on toilet doors.

[Image Credit: K12 Blueprint]

5.) The word 'android' refers to a male robot with a human appearance. A gynoid is a female-looking robot

The first robots were all male in appearance, due to the fact that a female body form posed too many problems (hmm, where have we heard that before?, such as being too slender for the hardware.

[Image Credit: Tony Gentilcore]

6.) Android 1.1 was called Bender

I’m sure you all know every major iteration of Android OS will receive a sugary, alphabetical name. The most recent is Marshmallow, before that it was Lollipop. Going back further was Kit-Kat, Jelly Bean, Ice-Cream Sandwich and so on.

But there are two exceptions to that naming tradition: Android 1.0 was called Astroboy, and 1.1 was Bender. Two names of famous robots, get it?

[Image Credit: Futurama Wikia]

7.) It’s not just in phones

Mention Android and smartphones will instantly come to mind, but thanks to the adaptability of the platform it is also found doing its thing in televisions, cars, watches, cameras, games consoles, and landlines.

[Image Credit: techradar]

8.) Over a billion people use Android every month

At Google's I/O developer conference in 2014, the company announced there were over one billion active monthly Android users. The OS dominates the smartphone market with an 82.8 per cent share.

[Image Credit: Pixabay]

9. The first Android device didn’t even have a virtual keyboard (or 3.5mm headset jack)

Remember the first Android headset, the classic HTC G1 (also known as the HTC Dream), exclusive to T-Mobile in the UK? It had a funky fold out screen which revealed a QWERTY keyboard. That was the only keyboard option you had – and clearly personal music listening was a big no-no. Still, it was a great phone.

[Image Credit: Gizmodo US]

10.) Oracle tried to sue Google for $6.1 billion for infringing patents

According to phone-maker Oracle, Android infringed on 37 Java patents. They decided Google should pay the equivalent of £4 billion for the breaches of copyright.

After a lengthy legal battle in the Supreme Court, both parties agreed that no money was to be paid out (that’s some poor bargaining on Oracle’s part).

[Image Credit: Pixabay]

11.) The Android statues had a dog, but it was stolen

I’m not going to insult you by suggesting you didn’t know that when every time a new version of Android is announced, a statue pops up on Google’s lawn.

What you may not have known is that these statutes also had a statue dog. It was named Puppy, and made by artist Eero Aarnio. It was nicked in 2009 and it's whereabouts have never since become known.

[Image Credit: Stone Butterfly]

12.) A single jelly bean has also been stolen

A similar incident happened in 2012, when high temperatures caused the Jelly Bean Android statue's head to pop off. One crafty opportunist pilfered the oversized statuesque sweet, which is probably now on their bedroom wall.

[Image Credit: YouTube]

13.) Google did not create Android

Android Inc. was founded in 2003 by Andy Rubin, Rich Miner, Nick Sears and Chris White. The company was bought by Google two years later, in 2005, for at least $50 million – a piddling little sum when you think what the brand has become in the intervening decade.

[Image Credit: Google Blog]

14.) Android Wear has had over five million app installations

Android Wear (and every other smartwatch platform) still needs a bit of work, but it’s managed to pass the impressive milestone of five million app downloads.

[Image Credit: techradar]

15.) Android 3.0 is the only version to never run on phones

Android 3.0, also known as Honeycomb, was a tablet-only OS. The next version, Ice Cream Sandwich, worked across both tablets and smartphones.

[Image Credit: techradar]

16.) Android was the nickname given to Andy Rubin when he worked at Apple

Andy Rubin loves robots, for that reason his Apple co-workers gave him the nickname ‘Android’ back in 1989. He took this name with him when setting up Android Inc. in 2003. To that end, Android.com was Andy’s personal website until 2008.

[Image Credit: Wikipedia]

17.) NASA used Android to make space robots

Somewhere 62 miles above your head there are robots floating around powered by Nexus S handsets running Android Gingerbread.

[Image Credit: Wikimedia]

18.) Many critics felt Android would fail miserably

Always one to be the cynics, some tech journalists didn’t think Android would take off. Instead, they put their money on Web OS and the Palm Pre.

We’ll just pretend that didn’t happen, shall we?

[Image Credit: Splash Phone]

19.) In 2013, Samsung owned 63.3 per cent of the Android market share

That’s an impressive market share, for sure, but its dominance is waning.

[Image Credit: O2]

20.) Android is still growing thanks to budget Chinese brands

While the Galaxy S6 didn’t sell as well as Samsung had hoped, Android is still growing thanks to the budget Chinese brands such as Huawei, Xiaomi and ZTE.

[Image Credit: Huawei]

Top image credit: Asif Islam / Shutterstock.com