It’s been 15 years since the first version of the Android operating system with Android Market (now Google Play) debuted on the T-Mobile G1. That’s a lot of phones, statues, desserts and events.
All that fun aside, our mission has always been to bring computing to everyone -- and at the end of the day, the fact that over 3 billion people in the world rely on Android every day is the most satisfying and fulfilling part of our work.
To commemorate this milestone, I asked my colleagues to share some of their favorite memories from over the years. Here's what they said:
An (exactly) eight-minute demo
“On Android, we are always giving demos because we believe it’s always better to show rather than tell. I remember the first demo and developer talk that I gave about Android. It was in 2007 at a "Future of Mobile" event held at an IMAX theater in London. I live coded a simple web browser — a textbox with a WebView. I told folks usually it takes me 10 minutes, but at Google we give engineers large monitors to improve productivity. Since I was on an 80-foot IMAX screen, I reckoned I could do it in 8 minutes. I started a timer. When I finished, the timer showed exactly 8 minutes, 0 seconds. The crowd erupted in applause.” –Dave Burke, VP of Engineering
Statues for every new Android release
Statues in Google’s Mountain View campus commemorate each Android release, which took inspiration from baked goods.
“We always celebrate each Android release with a statue. I remember them arriving by truck to the Mountain View office, and Tracey Cole (Android’s first administrative assistant) would send a message to everyone in the building asking for help to unload it. Then the next year, we’d add another statue and continue to just find space on the lawn. Pretty quickly it got crowded and we didn't know what to do with all these statues! I'm happy to report we've now found a good home for them in Mountain View, and that we have continued our tradition of statue unveilings with each release.” –Elyse Seigle, Program Manager (and Android’s second administrative assistant)
Our most recent Android 14 statue in Google’s Mountain View campus.
When our desks were full of KitKats and Oreos
“My favorite releases are the fun and timely ones! For example with Android K, someone on the team called KitKat’s parent company to see if they'd be interested in partnering, and they were! A few months later, Android’s bugdroid was printed on millions of KitKat wrappers around the world. Another that comes to mind was Android O and when we realized it would fall on the same date as the Great American Eclipse, and that the eclipsing sun in the sky would look exactly like...an Oreo. So we built an Android Oreo super hero, embodied it with all of the superpowers packed into the latest release and timed it (and Android Oreo's reveal) to be the exact moment of the eclipse in New York City.” –Christopher Katsaros, Head of Android Developer Marketing
Design straight from a white board
Whiteboard drawing of an early Android tablet UI.
“It's funny to look back at some of our early work, and how fast we moved to build and get things done. One of the early projects that I have some amusing evidence of was our early tablet work: we just had a very small design team at that point, and they hadn’t had time to develop any artwork for the brand-new tablet UI. So I just walked to the end of the building in the Cambridge office, where we had a very large whiteboard, and just drew a bunch of rough icons and widgets, just as placeholders. I took a photo with a Nexus One, cut the image up into assets, and threw them into the work-in-progress code. Our product development and review processes are quite a bit more structured now! But we still approach how we design, code and iterate with the same creative, ‘let’s work it out on a whiteboard’ mentality.” –Dan Sandler, Engineering Director
More time at the drawing board
A few early Android IDE sketches and iterations.
“We launched Android Studio at I/O 2013, an integrated development environment (IDE) built for Android. We went through many rounds of product names... for example: Android Coding Environment (ACE), Android Developer Environment (ADE), Android Omicron (that would've been interesting post-pandemic!), and Android Maker. We settled on Android Studio and scribbled an icon days before the launch. No one could have predicted that Android Studio would go on to become the best and most widely used IDE for developing Android apps. It’s remarkable that what started out as a sketch has gone on to make a huge difference in developing the vibrant app ecosystem that makes Android what it is today.” –Patricia Correa, Senior Director, Global Developer Marketing
Today’s Android Studio icon.
The great Cheeseburger snafu
Before and after photos of the cheeseburger emoji.
“In 2017, some of our favorite edible emoji began trending for missing the mark on Android! The cheese on the cheeseburger lay at the bottom of the bun (setting off quite the internet debate), the foam on beer sat at the top of the glass rather than the beer, and the holes on a wedge of cheese had the wrong shadowing. Sundar Pichai tweeted that it would be a top priority for the team to get this right. The emoji team came together quickly, incorporated the feedback – and all was made right in the edible emoji world again.” –Lily Lin, VP of Communications
Honoring the values of Android — and having fun, too
Refreshed brand identity honors Android’s values.
"With the Android brand, we never took ourselves too seriously, and that personality brought joy and a unique sense of inclusion to Android users around the world. This year, when we began the challenge of modernizing the brand's identity, our goal was to ensure what Android stood for remained at the center of our work. This allowed us to bring the dimensionality of our brand personality, reflect the diverse communities we serve all over the world, and still not take ourselves too seriously. (After all, our bugdroids can have mohawks.)" –Adrienne Lofton, VP of Integrated Marketing for Platforms and Ecosystems
A way for families to connect
“In April 2020, we partnered with the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) to help get Android tablets in hospital rooms. It was powerful to see our technology be used to help families manage care and stay connected to loved ones that were being treated in intensive care units for COVID.” –Liesl Schumacher, Chief of Staff
My journey with Android
This whole journey has been nothing short of unpredictable. When I first joined the team, Dianne Hackborn, one of the earliest engineers on the project, let me know she'd been asked to write a chapter on Android for the 4th edition of the Modern Operating Systems book by Andrew S. Tannenbaum. Many of you that studied computer science will remember that book – edition 2 still sits on my shelf at home. At this moment, I realized what an honor and privilege it is to work on something that has had such an impact on the world.
Happy 15th birthday to the whole Android ecosystem and thanks for all the support over years. Together, I'm sure we'll make the next 15 years even more memorable.