17
Sep
150_thumb

You know the Android codenames, right? Starting with Android 1.5, they're alphabetical snacks - Cupcake, Donut, Éclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, and Jelly Bean. But what about before 1.5? What were those called? And why did they start with C? We've got real answers from real Googlers.

Wikipedia's Android Version History is a pretty awesome article, but, as of a few days ago, it was erroneously calling 1.0 and 1.1 "Astro" and "Bender." We had never heard of this, and there wasn't a good source attached to it, so we took to G+ to set the record straight. Luckily for us, Android Engineers Jean-Baptiste Queru, Dianne Hackborn, and Romain Guy chimed in with historical accounts of Android's sugary pseudonyms.

As with any historical accounts, stories are going to differ slightly, but everyone agrees that the delicious code names didn't start with Cupcake, Android 1.1 was known as "Petit Four." After hearing that and doing some Googling, you'll find it even says so on the official Android Platform Overview page.

As for 1.0, the answer may be boring, but JBQ says "Android 1.0 didn't have a codename at all." Dianne Hackborn says she doesn't remember the code name of 1.0, and suggests "maybe it was just 'OMG are we going to survive this?'"

Pre-1.0, things start to get less user-friendly, with JBQ saying:

When I started in Nov 2007, the scheme was around "milestone" builds, and milestones m3 and m5 ended up being used for preview SDKs. After that, we had weekly builds (e.g. WB13 was the build for the 13th week of 2008), and after that we had test cycles during which we were incorporating external feedback (e.g. TC3 was the third such cycle).

There were no codenames at any time from where I started until the beginning of the work on post-1.0 tasks.

And, sure enough, if we take a look at the official SDK archives, you'll see versions like "m3-rc20a," "m3-rc37a," "m5-rc14."

CaptureCapture2

Left: m3-rc20a | Right: m5-rc15

These "milestone" builds are all pre-1.0 builds of Android that look nothing like the 1.0 build we saw ship in the G1. M3 looks like a Blackberry OS, and M5 has 4 apps, no app drawer, and no usable desktop.

If you think names like "m3-rc37a" sound hard to keep track of, you aren't the only one who feels that way, with JBQ explaining that this murkiness would later be the impetus for a new build numbering system.

In early 2009, there was a lot of confusion with the build numbers because people didn't use the full build numbers, saying "rc30" without saying whether they were talking about 1.0-rc30 or 1.1-rc30 (and there were many more variants inside Google). That's when we decided to switch to a new scheme for build numbers, the one that we're now using. The first build under that scheme might have been CRA29.

That's when we realized that having C for the third release was a good idea (even though it was really the fourth release as there had actually been two versions of 1.0), and when we decided to pick codenames alphabetically after that.

And there you have the reason they started with "C." It was the third release, so "C" just seemed like a good idea. JBQ also says that "Donut was the first one where the name was made to explicitly start with a letter in alphabetical order." So it sounds like after realizing Cupcake and 3 went together well, they settled on alphabetical snacks.

So what about these "Astro" and "Bender" names from Wikipedia? Romain Guy says of the Wikipedia article "They link to a talk I gave were I mentioned Astro and Bender but I never said they were 1.0 and 1.1" Dianne Hackborn attaches them to the milestone builds, saying:

Astro Boy and Bender were definitely code names that were tagged on some milestones with plans for using a robot theme, but these may have been pre-1.0 milestones, or plans-that-changed for after 1.0.

And in the G+ post for this post (we are getting seriously recursive here), Dianne also adds that:

The early code name was Astro Boy, not Astro.  The plan was to use code names that were fictional robots, and we were going to do them in alphabetical order.  As things went on, plans changed, and those milestones were modified, and at some point we ended up with 1.1 being Petit Four because our PM liked tasty treats.  We then went with that, but went back to doing them in alphabetical order.

So Astro Boy and Bender were real, but they went with the super-early milestone builds, similar to what's pictured above. The full timeline goes like this:

  • Android milestone builds (with Astro Boy and Bender floating around in here somewhere)
  • Android 1.0 (No codename)
  • Android 1.1 - Petit Four
  • Android 1.5 - Cupcake
  • Android 1.6 - Donut
  • Android 2.0 - Éclair
  • Android 2.1 - Éclair
  • Android 2.2 - Froyo
  • Android 2.3 - Gingerbread
  • Android 3.0 - Honeycomb
  • Android 4.0 - Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Android 4.1 - Jelly Bean

So there you go. An actual codename history, and not this silly "1.0 Astro/1.1 Bender" stuff that people on the internet are endlessly repeating. Don't believe everything you read.

Ron Amadeo
Ron loves everything related to technology, design, and Google. He always wants to talk about "the big picture" and what's next for Android, and he's not afraid to get knee-deep in an APK for some details. Expect a good eye for detail, lots of research, and some lamenting about how something isn't designed well enough.
  • Aaron Douglas Charlong

    I always figured 1.0 was simply A for Android, with 1.1 being some weight B thing.

  • http://btwnworlds.tumblr.com/ Lou G

    That is really cool!

  • http://twitter.com/redbullcat Phil Oakley

    Clears it up. Thanks Ron.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eduaxx Eduardo da Silva

    I start at Eclair. Now i'm in Jelly Bean!
    Android, you're amazing!!
    This yes, it's revolutionary!!

  • Juan Ovalles

    Something funny to read!!! Could anyone propose a whole list names from L to Z? There are a lot of letters that I cant link to desserts...

    • Jaymoon

      Lemon Meringue
      Mint Chocolate Chip
      Neapolitan
      Orange Cream
      Pistachio
      Quiche
      Rhubarb Pie
      Strawberry Short Cake
      Toffee
      Upside Down Cake
      Vanilla Bean
      Whipped Cream
      X-tra Fudge
      Yellow Cake
      Zucchini Bread

      Now I'm hungry :(

    • antinorm

      Luksusowa
      Makers Mark
      Northern Light
      Old Colony
      Patron
      Quadro
      Royal Canadian
      Smirnoff
      Tanqueray
      Ursus
      Van Gogh
      Wild Turkey
      X Rated
      Yukon Jack
      Zodiac

  • http://twitter.com/jerryturnbow Jerry Turnbow

    So Android looked remarkably like BlackBerry--until Eric Schmidt joined the Apple board...

    • Wayne Morrison

      it actually looks a lot more like the T Mobile Dash on Windows Mobile Than it does a BlackBerry.

    • Josh Brown

      Both designs were planned and were done concurrently. Around the m5 point it became pretty clear that the non-touch prototypes wouldn't be viable, but even today Android totally supports non-touch devices (which is partly why there was an emphasis on making sure d-pad navigation works until recently). I'm not certain of this, but I'd imagine the non-touch portion was done earlier since it would be easier to build and test, so I wouldn't be surprised if m3 was predominantly non-touch.

      From the very beginning Android was designed to be very flexible from a hardware standpoint. They wanted to be as future-compatible as possible, and I think Android's resource management system really shows that. I remember reading an article where Diane Hackborn described some of the lessons learned from her time at Palm, where they wanted to change screen sizes and densities, but were very limited in their options. They had to be exactly 2x density to avoid rounding issues, they couldn't change the size without filling that space in legacy apps, etc. (hmm... sound similar to a particular fruity OS?).

      Android was designed to get around all of that. Touch input was already something that had been seen coming (and had already been done with Palm, Windows Mobile, etc), and Android needed to support that even before the iPhone became popular. The only thing that changed was the market. No one wanted non-touch devices anymore, so the focus for manufacturers became touch devices.

    • blunden

      That's a tired argument that doesn't really have that much basis in facts. It is based on just one of the type of prototype devices used and it contradicts what you find if you actually run the pre-1.0 builds that are available.

  • Melvin Blokhuijzen

    Really nice read. Thanks for clearing everything up and for the great article!

  • RedPandaAlex

    Kind of wish they had named them after famous robots, but i know why they might have stopped. I'm sure there would have been trademark issues

    • http://twitter.com/sam1am John Samuel αΩ

      I can't wait for the liquid metal T-2000!

    • Macrocephalic

      Plus, who would have bought a device controlled by HAL9000?

      • JosephHindy

        Who would have bought a device controlled by HAL9000?
        Everyone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fransarj Francis Arjonillo

    I really think Google chose to skip A and B because they stood for Apple and Blackberry which kinda stood as desserts in themselves. :)

    • Andrew Boyle

      You sir, win the internet

    • Edward Rubio

      I always figured it was Alpha, Beta, then released with Cupcake and the rest.

  • Montygue

    So whats up next? Key Lime Pie?

    • Guest

      ...and then?

      Lemon Meringue
      Mint Chocolate Chip
      Neapolitan
      Orange Cream
      Pistachio
      Quiche
      Rhubarb Pie
      Strawberry Short Cake
      Toffee
      Upside Down Cake
      Vanilla Bean
      Whipped Cream
      X-tra Fudge
      Yellow Cake
      Zucchini Bread

      Now I'm hungry :(

      • Nicholas Loomans

        P has to be Pecan Pie or Pancake.

        • Freak4Dell

          No, Pumpkin Pie, definitely Pumpkin Pie.

          Either way, if it is one of those pies, they should release it right around Thanksgiving.

          Now I'm hungry. :(

          • navjot

            It just so happens that, that particular release will be an end of the year release (like ICS) rather than an Q1/Q2 release (like JB)

      • ari_free

        Quince Tart sounds more desserty than quiche.

  • Asphyx

    Well if K is next I guess we should start looking forward to Krispy Kreme!
    I can't think of any other sweet snack that starts with a K! LOL

    • http://twitter.com/sam1am John Samuel αΩ

      Key Lime Pie!

    • Nicholas Loomans

      Kiwifruit Pie?

    • Storm Walsh

      It's a shame Kool-Aid isn't regarded as a sweet snack. I'd have loved to see the Kool-Aid/Android mash-up on Google's front lawn... ;)

    • Greg Bissell

      Yeah even though there are 10000's of articles that say its Key Lime Pie

    • ari_free

      KitKat?

  • http://twitter.com/sam1am John Samuel αΩ

    I think they should switch to naming the versions after famous robots. It is ANDROID after all.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Like they're going to suddenly break the paradigm after 3-4 years and switch to something different in the middle of the alphabet.

      • http://twitter.com/LV2355 Laurentiu

        Maybe after 8-15 years (1 or 2 versions are released every year) after the alphabet dessert reached Z they could start with alphabet robots.

        • Greg Bissell

          No they can't because they are trademarked

    • ari_free

      Only if they are also tasty.

  • http://twitter.com/spookytay Taylor Oberst

    I always assumed it was alpha and beta, then came the release of cupcake, good article

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000003999549 Mike Harris

    I guess I'm the only one who thought the "A" and "B" stood for "Alpha" and "Beta".

    • Kenny O

      I always thought that too

    • http://www.impulsivestudios.com/ Justin Myers

      My exact thoughts. Haha

    • Hendrick M

      nop that was always my thought

    • Stephen Diniz

      I thought this at one point as well..

    • http://www.google.com/profiles/MetalMessiah78 José Gómez

      I could have sworn I read somewhere that Andy Rubin was asked at one the Google I/O's what A and B stood for, and he answered Alpha and Beta. I wish I remembered where I read it.

  • http://profiles.google.com/giovannicalabrese Giovanni Calabrese

    funny.. you would think that someone would bother to ask me?

  • fadilkarim

    So what's after Z?:o

    • Campan Flaviu

      'a' again?

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        AA, like in Excel. Aardvark Jelly?

    • technohead95

      With Google slowing down releases (and keeping the same name for multiple minor version number updates), I doubt they'll even get to Z. Every company, product or any other big thing, will eventually have it's downfall. Nothing will last forever. Assuming they use one letter per year, then they'd have another 16 years to get to Z. As great as Android is. I doubt it'll last that long.

  • http://www.geeksonhugs.com/ W. Anthony Tanas

    Ha! OMG that was me! I hate to admit this bit I'm the very person who put Astro and Bender in the Wikipedia article! Lol!! :-)

    I stand corrected! :-P

    • RocketScience11

      As the moderator of all Wikipedia, I can confirm this.

      • http://www.geeksonhugs.com/ W. Anthony Tanas

        LOL

  • JG

    Here's another code name question...

    The full timeline goes like this:Android milestone builds (with Astro Boy and Bender floating around in here somewhere)Android 1.0 (No codename)Android 1.1 - Petit FourAndroid 1.5 - CupcakeAndroid 1.6 - DonutAndroid 2.0 - ÉclairAndroid 2.1 - ÉclairAndroid 2.2 - FroyoAndroid 2.3 - GingerbreadAndroid 3.0 - HoneycombAndroid 4.0 - Ice Cream SandwichAndroid 4.1 - Jelly Bean

    So, um... Why did 2.0 and 2.1 share the Éclair designation? Other 0.1 increments were assigned their own name... So, shouldn't my Nexus 7 be running 4.1, Key Lime, and my Droid X be stuck on 2.3, Honeycomb?

    • blunden

      The most likely answer is that 2.0 (and 2.0.1) were released exclusively on the Motorola Droid/Milestone. From what I remember they never really felt finished so I assume they weren't. Google then released the full Eclair with the release of the Nexus One and also pushed it to AOSP.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      Yes. That was weird.True, but weird. 2.1 came out very quickly after 2.0, and didn't have any new user-facing features, so it kept the codename.

      From http://source.android.com/source/overview.html :"The Eclair branch was also used for 2.0 and 2.0.1; however, both of those releases were quickly obsoleted by the version 2.1 Eclair release. As Android 2.1 includes key bug fixes and improvements not present in 2.0/2.0.1, only Android 2.1 should be used for new devices. As there is no compatibility program for 2.0 or 2.0.1, the officially compatible Eclair-based release is Android 2.1"

  • Marko

    I swear that when I got my G1, it had version 0.9 on it. I was excited when it graduated to 1.0!

  • sathish

    Android 1.0 - Apple pieAndroid 1.1 - Banana BreadAndroid 1.5 - CupcakeAndroid 1.6 - DonutAndroid 2.0 - ÉclairAndroid 2.1 - ÉclairAndroid 2.2 - FroyoAndroid 2.3 - GingerbreadAndroid 3.0 - HoneycombAndroid 4.0 - Ice Cream SandwichAndroid 4.1 - Jelly Bean

  • PINJ

    If The m5 Indeed Has No Appdrawer What Will The "All" Link Lead To? The Contacts?

  • http://twitter.com/SLotH13 SLotH

    "Don't believe everything you read."

    Then how do I believe this?

  • CeluGeek

    Sillier than the "Astro" and "Bender" names, is the fact that there are two versions of Android named Éclair. I guess no one had figured out a F-dessert after 2.0 Éclair was released so they had to reuse Éclair.

    • Edward Rubio

      I think that it was such a small update that they werent touting it as an UPDATE. It was basically just bug fixes.

      • Simon Belmont

        This. Android 2.0 was only released on the OG Droid.

        As you said Android 2.1 was just some bug fixes. Cheers.

    • Lawrence D’Oliveiro

      And three versions of Honeycomb (3.0, 3.1, 3.2). And counting API levels, there were two for Gingerbread and two for Ice Cream Sandwich as well.

  • Simon Belmont

    Heh. It would be a cool homage for them to reuse "Petit Four" when they get to 'P' in the alphabet.

    I am not saying it will happen, but I would think it'd be a cool look back in Android's history. My two cents.

  • Zubair

    What happened to 1.2, 1.3 and 1.4?

  • http://cybertron-transformers.blogspot.com/ christina thomas

    Haha - clever stuff. they should have saved c for cloud printing

  • cristian c ?

    I thougth that 1.1 was apple pie

  • coder134

    I wonder if there's anything to the rumor that the reason they moved away from fictional android names was to stay clear of copyright concerns.