Mobile app developers have a favorite pastime: complaining about fragmentation in the world of Android. “So many screen sizes! So many version numbers! Why can’t Google be more like Apple and make it simple?”

Developers tend to be a whiny lot. 

Yet, it can be hard to keep track of the ever-evolving Android platform. Since 2008, there have been 39 updates to Android among nine major system versions. From Cupcake version 1.5 to Jelly bean version 4.2.2, there have been thousands of design changes, feature additions, security updates and general improvements to Android. Only the most dedicated of developers can tell you precisely what is different in each version of Android. Add all of the major and minor tweaks Google has added to Android with devices from the likes of Samsung, HTC, Motorola, LG and others and it becomes a complicated environment in which to build an app.

Boston-based mobile cloud services company Kinvey understands developers’ pain. It has created a handy infographic that maps the major changes to Android from inception to the latest build and even speculates on what might be coming next with the so-called Android 5.0, Key Lime Pie, which Google will likely announce at its I/O developers conference in May. Some highlights:

Android 1.0 – Inception

  • Google Maps, Search & Talk
  • Camera Support
  • Custom notifications and wallpapers

Android 1.5 – Cupcake

  • Widget support
  • Copy & paste in the browser
  • Auto-rotate

Android 1.6 – Donut

  • Quick search box
  • New framework APIs
  • Text-to-speech engine

Android 2.0 – Éclair

  • Turn-by-turn navigation
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • Live wallpapers

Android 2.2 – Froyo

  • Wi-Fi hotspot functionality
  • Adobe Flash support
  • Dedicated shortcuts on the homescreen

Android 2.3 – Gingerbread

  • Near Field Communications (NFC)
  • Video chat in Google Talk
  • Extra Large screen sizes supported (for Google TV)

Android 3.0 – Honeycomb

  • Dedicated tablet support
  • Virtual and holographic user interface
  • New Action Bar

Android 4.0 – Ice Cream Sandwich

  • Google Chrome for Android browser
  • Swipe to dismiss notifications
  • Resizable Widgets

Android 4.1 – Jelly Bean

  • Google Now
  • Project Butter improves user experience
  • Google Cloud Messaging

Check out the infographic from Kinvey below. What do you think has been the best improvement to Android since Cupcake? Let us know in the comments.