Although it arrived to market a year after Apple’s ground-breaking iOS operating system, Android has arguably been even more revolutionary.
The Android ecosystem introduced smartphone users to innovations including predictive typing, mobile payments, turn-by-turn navigation and even voice searches.
As such, each new generation of Android is eagerly anticipated by industry observers, to see what breakthroughs and new features it’ll bring.
And now there’s a new version available…
Android 10 represents the first time a version of Android has been given a number rather than a name.
There are various theories for this, including a lack of desserts starting in Q. Every previous version has been named after a cake or biscuit, such as ice-cream, nougat and Oreo.
Regardless of the reasons for this sudden shift in branding, Android 10 has been in development for over a year.
Over 200,000 people beta-tested it on 26 different devices, and 20,000 separate issues have been acted upon, from glitches and display issues to compatibility problems and crashes.
Google claim the first numerically titled version of Android will be extremely stable from launch, as well as being available on a wider variety of devices than any previous iteration.
But what makes 10 different from its dessert-themed predecessors? And will it be worth upgrading?
The perfect ten?
Android 10 performs a number of new functions, including the tricky challenge of mastering gesture navigation.
Support for foldable screens ensures displays automatically adapt as a device expands or concertinas. There’s also compatibility with 5G, for ultra-fast streaming and browsing.
Alongside a greater focus on security and privacy, there’s also more emphasis on mental wellbeing among users – a nod to growing concepts like mindfulness.
For example, it’ll be possible to ensure apps are paused and greyed out after a certain period of time, or at specific times of day – ideal for avoiding internet rabbit holes late at night.
Developers can take advantage of live captioning, with a dedicated icon enabling subtitles to automatically appear on video and podcasts – including self-made ones.
Geolocation data will be restricted by new settings which let people decide when (and even if) apps can track their location. That’s a step up from today’s binary accept/decline choice.
Consumers will also notice an optional dark theme, designed to optimise battery life and provide a more soothing experience in low light.
Can I have it?
Historically, Google Pixel smartphones have received new versions of Android first, and this is already the case with 10.
However, this time, it’ll be rolled out more quickly to other handsets. Almost 20 third-party devices are scheduled to receive the necessary update by the end of this year.
That’s a response to the (valid) criticism that non-Google phones have historically lagged behind, in terms of offering the latest Android technologies and features.
It’s definitely worth upgrading once 10 becomes available on your own handset.