Why Did Google Stop Using Android Dessert Names?
For many years, Android was known for its quirky dessert nicknames. Froyo, Ice Cream Sandwich, Lollipop, Oreo, and more. It was a yearly tradition to find out the new name, but then that came to an end. What happened?
A Brief History of Android Desserts
The first version of Android—Android 1.0—was released in October 2008 on the T-Mobile G1 (a pretty ugly phone). Internally, it was codenamed “Astro Boy,” but there was no public nickname attached to it. A year later, Android 1.1 was codenamed “Petit Four”—a small bite-sized confectionery.
Ryan Gibson, the project manager, came up with the idea of using confectionery-based nicknames for public releases. In April 2009, Android 1.5 was released with “Cupcake” as the public nickname. This got the releases back on the alphabetical track, and kicked off a tradition that would continue for nearly a decade.
In addition to the nicknames, Google also had statues made for each dessert (top of the page). Before each new version was released, Google would unveil the statue. This was often how Google would officially announce the nickname. The statues can still be found at the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California.
Here’s the full list of Android versions (and their release dates) that featured dessert nicknames:
- Android 1.5, Cupcake: April 27, 2009
- Android 1.6, Donut: September 15, 2009
- Android 2.0-2.1, Eclair: October 26, 2009
- Android 2.2-2.2.3, Froyo: May 20, 2010
- Android 2.3-2.3.7, Gingerbread: December 6, 2010
- Android 3.0-3.2.6, Honeycomb: February 22, 2011
- Android 4.0-4.0.4, Ice Cream Sandwich: October 18, 2011
- Android 4.1-4.3.1, Jelly Bean: July 9, 2012
- Android 4.4-4.4.4, KitKat: October 31, 2013
- Android 5.0-5.1.1, Lollipop: November 12, 2014
- Android 6.0-6.0.1, Marshmallow: October 5, 2015
- Android 7.0-7.1.2, Nougat: August 22, 2016
- Android 8.0-8.1, Oreo: August 21, 2017
- Android 9.0, Pie: August 6, 2018
The last version of Android to feature a dessert nickname was Android 9.0 Pie in 2018. Since then, it’s been plain version numbers and no fun nicknames. Why is that?
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In August 2019, Google released Android 10…just 10. After nearly a decade of fun nicknames and cute statues, the tradition came to an end.
It wasn’t that Google couldn’t come up with a dessert for the letter “Q.” In fact, Google VP of Product, Sameer Samat, said the global Android team crowdsourced possibilities like “Queens Cake” and “quindim.” However, the latter demonstrated a problem with the dessert names.
Quindim is a custard dessert popular in Brazil. How many people outside of Brazil are familiar with it? Desserts—like food in general—can be highly regional. There’s also the matter of some words not translating well to other languages, which isn’t a problem with numbers.
“One piece of feedback we’ve gotten from users over the years is that the dessert names are not universally understood in different cultures and different languages. Food tends to sometimes be a local thing.”
At the end of the day, Google wanted a name that would be easy to understand across languages and regions. The result was “Android 10,” and the following versions have been named in the same way.
Dessert Nickname Still Exist, Kinda
Every version of Android has had an internal codename separate from the public name. For example, Android 9 Pie’s codename was “Pistachio Ice Cream.” Those internal codenames have continued past the public nicknames.
Android 10’s internal codename was “Quince Tart.” Android 11 was “Red Velvet Cake.” Android 12 was “Snow Cone.” Android 13 was “Tiramisu.” These codenames were not used publicly after the release of each Android version, but they give us a taste of what could have been.
It’s a little sad that Android phones don’t come with dessert nicknames anymore. It was always fun trying to guess which dessert they would use, and it was exciting when Google would reveal the statue. Android has matured a lot over the years, and so has its branding.