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Understanding Android Versions & How to Find Out what Version of Android you run.

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September 2, 2011


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Understanding Android Versions & How to Find Out what Version of Android you run.

This article is designed to help you understand the different versions of Android Operating System (OS), and how to find out which version you have on your phone or Tablet. This is extremely important when you are planning to purchase and download apps from the Android store, as certain apps only can run on particular versions of the Android OS.

It must seem that every phone and tablet maker runs a different version of Android.  This is partly true, and I’ll explain more about this in a few moments. But to begin I want our readers to remember three key points.

The first key point is that the Android world is now divided into two types of operating systems, one for mobile phones and the other for tablets. The Android Tablet OS will allow you to run almost every Android App designed for mobile phones. However, mobile phones cannot run native Android Tablet Apps; that is, apps designed specifically for the Android Tablet.

The second key point is all the Android device makers (i.e. HTC, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Samsung, etc.) run a core version of the Android OS, and each may add another layer of software on top of the core Android OS that has unique features for that particular device. For example, the Barnes and Noble’s Nook Color runs on Android Tablet OS, but has a custom developed Barnes and Noble interface. Samsung and HTC do the same for many of their Android phones.  While each device maker runs a slightly different version of the OS, in theory, this should not affect your device’s ability to run Apps found on the Android store, if that app is compatible with your core Android OS version.

The third key point is that Google has given each version of the Android OS a code name. For example, Android 3.0 designed for tablets is called “Honeycomb.” Mobile phones run an OS version called “Ginger Bread,” but its version number is 2.3 or 2.4. Just keep this in mind when you read reviews and sales materials for Android Apps. For the sake of simplicity all our App reviews on will list the Android Version number that this App is compatible with at the time of the articles publish date. We normally provide a link directly to either the developer’s website, or the Android Store, so you may get the latest version compatibility.

In our attempt to review Android apps, give tutorials on various subjects, write “how to articles” for each core version of the Android OS, and solve problems our readers might have with their phone or tablet; you might encounter features that are not available on your device, even though it is running the core OS referenced. Again, this is due to the fragmentation of the Android Market, and the various OS add-ons and customizations from your device’s manufacturer.

So with that said, let’s first figure out what version of the Android OS you are running.

How to find out what Android Version your Phone runs:

1)      For Android Phones first touch the menu button. This is the 2nd button from the left.

2)      Click the “Setting” menu.

3)      Scroll down and tap “About Phone”

4)      Scroll down and right under “Android Version,” you will see the Android Version Number your phone runs. (e.g. 2.3.5 or 2.1.2)

5)      If you see the number 2.3.5, your core android OS is Android 2.3.


Android Operating Systems:

Android 3.0: Honeycomb (Latest Tablet OS)

Android 3.0 Honeycomb is designed strictly for Android Tablets. Honeycomb takes advantage of a tablet’s larger screen by introducing a three dimensional desktop, integrating better widgets, and introducing multi pane viewing. Android Phone users will notice right away that the physical buttons that controlled many of the essential phone features such as back and menu are removed.  Honeycomb also supports dual core computing which is essential for supporting the latest generation of mobile CPUs.

Android 2.3/2.4: Gingerbread (Latest Phone OS)

Gingerbread 2.3 is the last Android OS that supports both Phone and Tablet. This version of the OS introduces support for Near Field Communication that allows you to do some cool things such as turning your phone into a credit/debit card. Gingerbread also improved Android’s keyboard response and added some design and layout changes. One of the major improvements is adding support for a front facing camera and video conferencing. Gingerbread also supports more robust hardware, specifically graphical and audio enhancements to improve Android as a mobile gaming platform.

Android 2.2 (Froyo)

Froyo was the first Android OS that supported tablets. However, the most important new feature of this version of Android was the introduced Adobe Flash player support.  Froyo also allows for USB tethering and turning your phone into a WIFI hotspot.

Android 2.0/2.1 (Éclair)

Éclair was the version of the Android OS that made Android popular and a serious competitor to Apple and Blackberry.  Éclair fixed tons of bugs that were prevalent with earlier versions of Android. The biggest improvement Éclair was the introduction of HTML5 support which allowed mobile sites such as YouTube to play on Android as well as a major improvement in hardware for better picture and video quality. Éclair also introduced better photography with support for LED flash and camera zoom.

Android 1.6 (Donut)

This was the first major overhaul of Android and was launched just 6 months after version 1.5. The biggest upgrade with this version was improved OS speed and support for WVGA (800×480) screens.

Android 1.5 (Cupcake)

Launched in 2009, Cupcake was the first version of a keyboard less, touch screen Android. It allowed wireless music streaming (A2DP support) and was the introduction of Android as a competitor to Apple’s dominance.

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