One of the first questions I get asked when Android is talked about is ‘What gives with the dessert names then?’ and I guess that’s understandable as most people would ‘get’ Android 2.0, Android 2.1 etc. Well, the folks at Google (the creators of the Android operating system) must have a sense of humour I reckon.
‘Cupcake’ was the first version named after a dessert, released back in April 2009 and since then we’ve had Donut, Eclair, Froyo (short for frozen yoghurt, go figure), Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich and the current version, Jelly Bean. It’s been rumoured that the next will be called ‘Key Lime’ but Google tends to keep things tightly under wraps until the date of release.
So, how does this affect ordinary users?
Not a great deal really. New features and improvements are included with every new release, for example Honeycomb was released to improve the user experience on tablet devices which were using what was essentially software intended for small screen phones. Some features require better or faster hardware (the ‘gut’s of the phone or tablet) so the first question I would ask when looking at a phone or tablet that is running a version older than the current version (or one version prior) is – why?
As at the time of writing this, new tablets are being sold with both Jelly Bean (current) and Ice Cream Sandwich, but there are also, usually cheaper, tablets on the market that are running Honeycomb. To be fair, some like Lenovo’s ThinkPad will get an Ice Cream Sandwich update soon, but many made by less well-known brands will never get an update.
When buying an Android tablet, as with any purchase, buy the best you can afford but also ensure that it is running the latest Android version, or if not the latest at least the version prior. Tablets using older technology will often not be capable of running the latest versions, so if you keep this in mind when buying you won’t go far wrong.