Over the last few years, Android OS has come to dominate the mobile OS landscape with over 86% market share as of 2019. The system provides high-performing and secure usage and comes with regular version updates with new features.

Because of this, many Android users want to know how to check their current Android version and update it to the latest one.

So in this article, we will learn how to figure out which version your smartphone is running and how to install an Android OS update. But before that let’s get a quick overview of the history of Android versions.

A Brief History of the Android Operating System

Google first introduced the revolutionary Android operating system as an alternative to Apple’s iOS in late 2008.

Since it’s existed, Android has had 12 versions since its humble beginning with sometimes even more than one release in a year.

The constant support from Google developers made the system the top OS with almost 3 million apps in the Play Store. This helped switch Android app development from Java to Kotlin and ensured that Android developers were highly paid and quite in demand on the market.

Here I've gathered an abridged listing to demonstrate how the operating system has been changing and evolving to provide users with advanced functionality. For much of its lifetime, the OS version was designated by a number and a codename.

  • Android 1.0 to 1.1 - Google’s original mobile OS offered basic capability with integrated apps like Gmail, Maps, Calendar, and YouTube.
  • Android 1.5 or Cupcake - Released in early 2009, this was the first-named version of the OS. It included an on-screen keyboard and introduced the framework for third-party apps to be run on mobile devices.
  • Android 2.0-2.1 or Eclair - Version 2.0 added real-time traffic information, voice-guided navigation, and pinch-to-zoom capability to the OS.
  • Android 2.3 or Gingerbread - The 2010 release of this OS focused on the black and green interface as Android began to develop a distinctive look.
  • Android 3.0-3.2 or Honeycomb - Released in 2011, this version of the operating system was specifically for tablet devices and introduced on-screen buttons.
  • Android 4.0 or Ice Cream Sandwich - This was a unified OS for phones and tablets all released in 2011 which featured a holographic appearance and made extensive use of swiping when using the system.
  • Android 4.4 or Kit-Kat - Late 2013 saw this update which lightened the interface’s color scheme and introduced the world to “OK, Google” support.
  • Android 5.0-5.1 or Lollipop - Major changes were made with 2014’s upgrade. Google introduced the card-based Material Design standard employed to unify the appearance of items displayed by the OS.
  • Android 6.0 or Marshmallow - This relatively minor update in 2015 was the beginning of Google’s patterns of relaying a new, numbered version every year.
  • Android 7.0-7.1 or Nougat - 2016’s entry in the Android OS lexicon added native split-screen mode and launched Google Assistant.
  • Android 9 or Pie - Google released this last-named version of Android in August of 2018. The most visible updates of this version for users were the large Home and small Back buttons to the user interface and new security features.
  • Android 10 - is the last live version of OS and we will cover it in more detail below.

Main Features of Android 10

Android 10 was released on September 3, 2019. It has many new and improved features that are good reason to upgrade your Android OS if you are still using version 9.

Here are some of the highlights of the current Android version.

  • Live Caption gives users the ability to automatically caption media playing on your device.
  • Smart Reply helps streamline communication by suggesting responses and recommending actions.
  • Sound Amplifier lets you fine-tune the audio settings of your phone to allow you to hear more clearly.
  • Gesture Navigation introduces more intuitive ways to swipe and pull and provides added flexibility to the Android interface.
  • Dark Theme uses true black to save battery power and give your eyes a rest. Some users may prefer it to Android’s normal look.
  • Enhanced security settings let you exert more control over the privacy of your data. You can control how data and location information is shared from the same settings area.
  • Digital Well-being is a tool that strives to help users find the right balance between work and the rest of their lives. It has features that can help you be more productive or unplug for some much-needed relaxation.
  • Focus mode is designed to help users stay focused on specific tasks by minimizing distractions. It lets you temporarily pause apps that may distract you by simply tapping on them.
  • Family Link enables digital ground rules to be set and can help parents guide their children’s online activities. Set limits on screen time, restrict content and manage apps for your family.

If you have recently purchased a new Android comparable device, it probably came with Android 10 installed. If that is not the case, these features might persuade you that you need to update the Android OS on your phone or tablet.

Checking Your Current Android OS and updating to Version 10

When you are preparing to upgrade your mobile device, you need to know what is the latest Android OS version that can run on your machine. Some older devices may be restricted as to the version that they can handle.

Depending on the type of device and its age, the method of obtaining an Android OS download may vary. Newer devices will receive updates more quickly and users of Google devices will get notifications when they are available.

Here’s how to update your Android OS. Some preliminary steps should be taken before performing the actual update.

Check Your Android Version

The exact steps needed to perform a version check will be determined by your type of device. You want to get to the About phone information which is found in the device’s Settings. The model number can also be found here and should be noted before you begin your update.

  1. Go to the Settings and scroll down to find out the System category.

2. In the System Settings section click on About device

3. Here scroll down to the end of list until you see Android version which means the version your mobile is running now.

If you decide to update your OS manually, here are a few tips to keep in mind before that:

Back up your data - You should be backing up your data regularly. Before an operating system upgrade is always a good time for a backup. You never know what might happen, so don’t take chances with your important data. Many backup apps are available. Get one and use it.

Verify your available space - The upgrade will detail how much space is necessary for your upgrade. Make sure you have enough space or move some things off of the device to free up enough for the update.

Updating the OS - If you have received an over-the-air (OTA) notification, you can simply open it up and tap the update button. You can also go to Check for Updates in Settings to initiate the upgrade.

Note: Some users may prefer to root their device to obtain updates as soon as they are available as well as being able to have more control over the device and what apps run on it.

What to Expect in Android 11

Even though there are considerable technical advances in version 10, Google plans to release the newest Android OS according to plan sometime in 2020. As you may have noticed, the company does not like to stand still.

Android 11 will focus on changes to privacy and security, application behavior, and new features including APIs. The operating system will provide support for 5G and foldable devices, positioning it to capitalize on the move to faster networks. Some specific features are:

  • Biometric authentication capabilities to more securely protect your device;
  • Restricts repeatable permission requests to make apps more user-friendly;
  • Allows temporary permission to be given to the camera, microphone, and location services;
  • Apps can automatically run authentication and connect to an available secure WiFi hotspot;
  • Expanded camera support;
  • Chat bubbles can be turned on and off for individual apps.

These are just a few of the new Android 11 features that the users will expect. App designers will also enjoy the extended functionality they can bring to their creations.

Wrapping Up

Except in very rare cases, you should upgrade your Android device when new versions are released. Google consistently provided many useful improvements to the functionality and performance of new Android OS versions. If your device can handle it, you just might want to check it out.