Ever since the release of Android 1.5 Cupcake back in 2009, every subsequent update for the OS has had a tasty dessert name to go along with its numerical position — some of my favorites being Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, Pie, and the classic Froyo.
These dessert names have been a staple of the Android brand for nearly a decade, and leading up to each new release, part of the fun is guessing what treat name Google’s come up with. We’ve been painstakingly brainstorming what in the world Android Q would be called, but last week, Google dropped quite the bombshell with its announcement that Q’s official name would just be “Android 10”. From this point forward, Google and Android are done with the dessert names.
This came as quite a shock, and a lot of longtime Android users are (unsurprisingly) not happy with this decision. While I fully agree that the updated naming scheme isn’t nearly as fun or playful, I also think it’s a big step in the right direction for the public image of Android as a whole.
Everything about the new name is easier to understand.
As soon as Google announced the name-change, the first thing I thought of was updates.
To you and me, it’s obvious that Android Pie is newer than Oreo and that Marshmallow is a few years old at this point. To the average Joe, however, those names mean nothing. How’s a normal person supposed to know the differences between OS updates if they’re classified by dessert names? Oreo to Pie means nothing, but Android 8 to 9 is clear and easy to understand.
Android 10 is this year’s big update, and in the years following, we’ll have Android 11, 12, 13, etc. By all accounts, that’s much clearer than having even more dessert names for people to keep up with.
If we look back at Android Pie, the writing was kind of on the wall for this shift in branding. Prior to the Pie update, Android’s version numbers had an accompanying “point” to go along with them — such as Android 8.0 Oreo, 7.1 Nougat, 4.2 Jelly Bean, and so on. Last year, it was simplified ever-so-slightly to Android 9 Pie — no dot or decimal to be found.
While not nearly as drastic of a change as axing the dessert names, it was a sign that Google was eager to start simplifying how it markets Android.
It’s too early to tell how big of an impact this shift in branding will have for the way “normal” consumers see and understand Android, but at the very least, Google’s making the right steps to help people have a better relationship with the operating system.
With the simplified naming in place, it’s now going to be up to Google to clearly communicate to its users what’s included with new software updates, when they can expect them, etc. This is something Apple does an excellent job with for iOS, and for Pixel devices at least, Google’s now in a position to better copy Apple in these regards.
However, there’s still the matter of OEMs and custom Android interfaces. As shiny as Android 10 and its new logo might be, I don’t envision this having much of an impact on Samsung, LG, Huawei, and other phones with heavily-skinned variants of Android.
That’s a bummer considering Google’s Pixel line holds such a small percentage of the smartphone market, but then again, that’s not something a new logo and name will change — it’s an entirely different can of worms that Google needs to figure out at a later date.
What Android 10 does represent, however, is Google acknowledging Android’s maturity as a platform and making the necessary changes to promote it as a clean, simple, and easy-to-understand operating system. Considering that some people in this world as are so petty as to not date someone due to the phone that they use, anything to give Android a better image is for the better.
Dessert names were fun, but I’m far more excited to see what the next ten years has in store for Android and its new look.