The Name Game

Giving interesting names and code names to operating systems has been an old game in the computing industry. Right from the days of UNIX, on to PCs, the Mac series, Linux (especially Ubuntu’s series of code names) and others, giving interesting names to an OS and weaving those names into stories, back stories, inside jokes or building a series with the names have all been part of this rather interesting ‘game’.

tab1Google, when they came out with the first of their Android mobile phone system and Tablet Phone, kept up this playful tradition.

Android Names – A quick revisit

After the first couple of releases of the android system done internally by Google in collaboration with the Open Handsets Alliance (OHA), came the first two pre-commercial releases called Android Alpha and Android Beta. The 5th of November 2007, when Android Beta was released publicly and soon followed by the software development kit (that which allows others to link their software to the system), is still regarded as the ‘birthday’ of Android.

Then under the aegis of project manager Ryan Gibson began the famous series of names based on well-known confections. And as of now we have the following major Android releases with us

• Cupcake
• Donut
• Eclair
• FroYo (Short for Frozen Yoghurt)
• Gingerbread
• Honeycomb
• Ice Cream Sandwich
• Jelly Bean
• Kit Kat

Needless to say, the names are both immensely popular and their declaration prior to each release is eagerly awaited and speculated upon by users, programmers, enthusiasts and experts alike.

Alphabetical Order

What is however less noticed or reported and talked about, except maybe in android communities and fandoms, is the second aspect of the naming series – that of their alphabetical order. Let us lay the names out in a row

Alpha, Beta, Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, FroYo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, Kit Kat

The starting letter of the names form the series of alphabets from A through K.

The Guessing Game

Ever since after the release of the fifth system – the Ice Cream Sandwich – the guessing game heated up and bloggers and technical writers took the discussion to the public domain and began speculating about it.

Many even guessed it, or should one say predicted it, correctly and the name Jelly Bean (starting with a ‘J’ after Ice Cream sandwich’s ‘I’) was what the new system, released at the Google I/O conference in the June of 2012, was christened.

Thereafter the naming series has followed both the conventions – that of being named after a dessert and following the alphabetical order.

tab2Exceptions and Gray Areas

Google officially however, does not entirely confirm this news.

In an interview given to CNN’s John D. Stutter in 2011, Google’s spokesperson Randall Sarafa, declined to confirm entirely if the names were based on confections and the alphabetical order or on some other considerations. Google continues to maintain a sort of silence and inscrutability on this matter.

Though it is noted above that Alpha and Beta fit into the series and Cupcake takes over with ‘C’, Google has till date not confirmed if there were other names given to the two releases.

Also bucking the alphabetical order was the fact that Android phone systems 2.0 and 2.1 were both named Eclair.