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Android: Updating Your Operating System

Updating Your Operating System

Many Android users hear little bits of information about different versions of the Android OS (Operating System) and they hear terms like "Cupcake" and "FroYo." What does all of that mean? Here is a brief decoding of the basics on Android OS and what you need to know to stay up-to-date.

Android versions released to the public (note that all sweet, sugary nicknames are alphabetical):
 Android Version Number  
 Release Date
 1.0 [none] 9-23-08
 1.1 [none] 2-9-09
 1.5 Cupcake 4-30-09
 1.6 Donut 9-15-09
 2.0/2.1 Eclair 10-26-09/1-2-10 
 2.2/2.2.2 Froyo (frozen yogurt)    5-2-10/1-21-11
 2.3 Gingerbread 12-6-10
 3.0 Honeycomb 1-26-11
 [none] Ice Cream Sandwich 


Important note: Not all versions of Android are available to all devices. For example, Honeycomb is said to have been designed primarily for tablets, not cell phones. According to the Android Developers website, more than half of Android devices currently use Froyo and almost a third are running Éclair. Yet less than one percent have Gingerbread. Why? Gingerbread hasn’t been offered to most devices yet. Despite two months passing since Gingerbread’s release, many phone companies are undecided as to whether they will provide the update to existing phones or reserve it for future releases.

What You Need to Know:

  • Find out what version of Android your phone is running right now.
  • From the home screen, press the menu button, and tap on “Settings” in the menu that pops us.
  • Scroll down to “About Phone” and select that menu item.
  • Scroll down to “Firmware Version” to find your current version of Android. (For reference, you can compare the number of the version to the chart above.)
  • If you are not yet running Android 2.2, first find out if you are eligible for the update, then decide whether you’re interested in upgrading.
  • ComputerWorld has compiled a list of which devices are and are not eligible for the Froyo upgrade here. You will need to know the brand (HTC, LG, Samsung, etc.) and model of your phone.
  • If you are eligible for the upgrade, do a little research. As with any updated OS (whether for a computer, cell phone, video game, or other device), there will be new features designed to improve the system but not everything will be perfect. It’s always good to read up on pros and cons of a new OS before making the switch. Gizmodo gives a pretty comprehensive review here. Be an informed consumer because, after all, your phone goes everywhere with you.
  • If you decide to upgrade, perform an internet search for “Update Android [name of your device].” For example, “update android samsung vibrant” or “update android EVO.” It should not be difficult to find instructions for updating your device.

Think About This...

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