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November 6, 2017

Android’s first public beta was released 10 years ago

by John_A

The first beta of the OS we’ve come to know and love turns 10.

Android is now known as the largest smartphone operating system on the market, but a decade ago it was just a public beta. These days it’s easy to get caught up in the small imperfections of popular flagships, but there’s no better way to remember just how far we’ve come in the last 10 years than to watch the original demo video for Android.

In it, we see a 34-year-old Sergey Brin introducing Google’s new open-source project to the world. Steve Horowitz demos a much simpler form of Android than we’re used to today, with a small carousel of apps at the bottom of the screen. He mentions that Google is hopeful its software will lead to the creation of “thousands of G Phones” — it’s probably safe to say that they exceeded that.

The apps demoed, including Google Maps, Quake, and a web browser using the 3G network, were fairly rudimentary, but it’s easy to see elements of Android’s UI that still hold true today, particularly on the touchscreen device. At the end of the video, Brin offers a $10 million incentive to the developers of the best software for Android, which now has the largest app ecosystem through the Google Play Store.

Android didn’t make its way to hands of the public until the release of the HTC-made T-Mobile G1 in 2008, and 10 years later it’s hard to imagine going back to a time without smartphones in every hand and pocket, so it’s interesting to look back at what Android was like in the early days.

The History of Android

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