“The Android platform enables device makers to compete and innovate. App developers can reach huge audiences and build strong businesses. Consumers now have unprecedented choice in devices, at ever-lower prices”— Hiroshi Lockheimer, SVP, Android, Chrome OS & Play
Get familiar with the world’s most popular operating system.
What is Android ?
Android is a mobile operating system based on a modified version of the Linux kernel and other open source software, designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Android is developed by a consortium of developers known as the Open Handset Alliance and commercially sponsored by Google. It was unveiled in November 2007, with the first commercial Android device, the HTC Dream, being launched in September 2008.
An Android phone is a powerful, high-tech smartphone that runs on the Android operating system (OS) developed by Google and is used by a variety of mobile phone manufacturers.
In 2007, Google released the first and the best beta version of the Android Software Development Kit (SDK). On the other hand, in Sept 2008, the first commercial version of Android, Android 1.0, was released.
At the Google I/O conference on June 27, 2012, Google declared the Android version, Jelly Bean 4.1.
It’s an incremental update, with the main aim of enhancing the UI, both in terms of performance and functionality.
Although the initial demonstrations of Android featured a generic QWERTY smartphone and large VGA screen, the operating system was written to run on relatively inexpensive handsets with conventional numeric keypads.
Android Open-Source Project
Android is a widely-adopted open-source project. Google actively develops the Android platform but gives a portion of it for free to hardware manufacturers and phone carriers who want to use Android on their devices. Google only charges manufacturers if they also install the Google apps portion of the OS.
Many (but not all) major devices that use Android also opt for the Google apps portion of the service. One notable exception is Amazon. Although Kindle Fire tablets use Android, they do not use the Google portions, and Amazon maintains a separate Android app store.
Beyond the Phone
Android powers phones and tablets, but Samsung has experimented with Android interfaces on non-phone electronics like cameras and refrigerators. The Android TV is a gaming and streaming platform that uses Android.
Parrot makes a digital photo frame and a car stereo system with Android. Some devices customize the open-source Android without the Google apps, so you may or may not recognize Android when you see it. The list of customizations and applications goes on and on.
Open Handset Alliance
Google formed a group of hardware, software, and telecommunication companies called the Open Handset Alliance with the goal of contributing to Android development. Most members also have the goal of making money from Android, either by selling phones, phone service, or mobile applications.
Google Play (Android Market)
Anyone can download the SDK (software development kit) and write applications for Android phones and start developing for the Google Play store. Developers who sell apps on the Google Play market are charged about 30 percent of their sales price in fees that go to maintain the Google Play market. (A fee model is typical for app distribution markets.)
Some devices do not include support for Google Play and may use an alternative market. Kindles use Amazon’s app market, which means Amazon makes the money off of any app sales.
The iPhone has been very popular, but when it was first introduced, it was exclusive to AT&T. Android is an open platform. Many carriers can potentially offer Android-powered phones, although device manufacturers might have an exclusive agreement with a carrier. This flexibility allowed Android to grow quickly as a platform.
Because Google developed Android, it comes with many Google app services installed right out of the box. Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Maps, and Google Now are pre-installed on most Android phones.
However, because Android can be modified, carriers can choose to change this. Verizon Wireless, for instance, has modified some Android phones to use Bing as the default search engine. You can also remove a Gmail account from most Android phones.
Android supports a touchscreen and is difficult to use without one. You can use a trackball for some navigation, but nearly everything is done through touch. Android also supports multi-touch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom. Still, Android is flexible enough that it could potentially support other input methods, such as joysticks (for the Android TV) or physical keyboards.
The soft keyboard (onscreen keyboard) in most versions of Android supports either tapping keys individually or dragging between letters to spell out words. Android then guesses what you mean and auto-completes the word. This drag-style interaction may seem slower at first, but experienced users find it faster than tap-tap-tapping messages.
Most Android phones offer some level of security, from fingerprint identification to facial recognition features. Most also support two-factor authentication processes and offer lock screen security options such as tracing a pattern over dots or inputting a PIN code or password to keep strangers from accessing a phone. You can also lock apps in different ways.
Android uses ARM for its hardware platform; later versions of Android OS support x86 and x86-64 architectures. Starting in 2012, device manufacturers released Android smartphones and tablets with Intel processors.
The minimum hardware requirements of Android depend on the device’s screen size and CPU type and density. Originally, Google required a 200 MHz processor, 32 MB of storage and 32 MB of RAM.
Google releases documentation with hardware requirements that original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) must meet for a device to be “Google Approved,” which means that it will ship with official Google apps. The open source nature of Android, however, means that it can also run on lesser hardware, and vice versa.
Features of Android
There are numerous features of android. Some of them are listed below:
|Connectivity||Android supports multiple connectivity technologies including GSM/EDGE, IDEN, CDMA, EV-DO, UMTS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, LTE, NFC and WiMAX|
|Storage||SQLite, a lightweight relational database, is used for data storage purposes|
|Media support||Android supports various type of audio/video/still media formats like: H.263, H.264, MPEG-4 SP, AMR, AMR-WB, AAC, HE-AAC, AAC 5.1, MP3, MIDI, Ogg Vorbis, WAV, JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP and WebP|
|Messaging||SMS and MMS are available forms of messaging, it also include threaded text messaging and Android Cloud To Device Messaging (C2DM) and now support the enhanced version of C2DM, Android Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) is also a part of Android Push Messaging services|
|Multi-tasking||Multitasking of applications, with unique handling of memory allocation, is available, using this user can jump from one task to another and at the same time various application can run simultaneously|
|Resizable widgets||Widgets are re-sizable, so users can expand them to show more content or shrink them to save space|
|Multi-touch||Android has native support for multi-touch which was initially made available in handsets such as the HTC Hero|
|Wi-Fi||A technology that lets apps discover and pair directly, over a high-bandwidth peer-to-peer connection.|
|Screen capture||Android supports capturing a screenshot by pressing the power and home-screen buttons at the same time. This features supports after Android 4.0|
|Android Beam||A popular NFC-based technology that lets users instantly share, just by touching two NFC-enabled phones together|
|Multi-Language||Android supports multiple languages, also supports single direction and bi-directional text|
There are so many reasons you should choose Android platform for mobile application development.
- Zero/negligible development cost The development tools like Android SDK, JDK, and Eclipse IDE etc. are free to download for the android mobile application development. Also Google distribute your mobile app on the Android Market.
- Open Source The Android OS is an open-source platform based on the Linux kernel and multiple open-source libraries. In this way developers are free to contribute or extend the platform as necessary for building mobile apps which run on Android devices.
- Multi-Platform Support In market, there are a wide range of hardware devices powered by the Android OS, including many different phones and tablet. Even development of android mobile apps can occur on Windows, Mac OS or Linux.
- Multi-Carrier Support World wide a large number of telecom carriers like Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, AT&T Mobility, BSNL etc. are supporting Android-powered phones.
- Open Distribution Model Android Market place (Google Play store) has very few restrictions on the content or functionality of an android app. So the developer can distribute theirs app through the Google Play store and as well other distribution channels like Amazon’s app store.
Android Versions, Name, and API level
|Code name||Version numbers||API level||Release date|
|No codename||1.0||1||September 23, 2008|
|No codename||1.1||2||February 9, 2009|
|Cupcake||1.5||3||April 27, 2009|
|Donut||1.6||4||September 15, 2009|
|Eclair||2.0 – 2.1||5 – 7||October 26, 2009|
|Froyo||2.2 – 2.2.3||8||May 20, 2010|
|Gingerbread||2.3 – 2.3.7||9 – 10||December 6, 2010|
|Honeycomb||3.0 – 3.2.6||11 – 13||February 22, 2011|
|Ice Cream Sandwich||4.0 – 4.0.4||14 – 15||October 18, 2011|
|Jelly Bean||4.1 – 4.3.1||16 – 18||July 9, 2012|
|KitKat||4.4 – 4.4.4||19 – 20||October 31, 2013|
|Lollipop||5.0 – 5.1.1||21- 22||November 12, 2014|
|Marshmallow||6.0 – 6.0.1||23||October 5, 2015|
|Nougat||7.0||24||August 22, 2016|
|Nougat||7.1.0 – 7.1.2||25||October 4, 2016|
|Oreo||8.0||26||August 21, 2017|
|Oreo||8.1||27||December 5, 2017|
|Pie||9.0||28||August 6, 2018|
|Android 10 Quince Tart||10.0||29||September 3, 2019|
|Android 11 Red Velvet Cake||11||30||September 8, 2020|
|Android 12 Snow Cone||12||35||October 4, 2021|
Advantages of Android
The main advantage of Android is that the user has so many choices. There are thousands of different devices that run Android as its operating system. On the other hand, if you want the iOS, you need to buy an iPhone. The user also has many choices when it comes to Android’s software. It is incredibly easy for users to customize how their phone works and looks with Android. There are also many quality apps on the Android store, thanks to the many Android app development companies out there. Android’s app stores tend to be less controlled than Apple’s app store, which encourages Android app developers to focus on Android app development.
What is Google Play / Play Store?
The Google Play Store refers to a marketplace where users can buy games, apps made by an Android app development company, books, movies, music, and more. This Play Store is a huge advantage of having an Android device. All the content you purchase will be connected with your Google account. That way, you will be able to access the content on any Android device logged into the Google account.
Undoubtedly, Android is not going away any time soon. Android has come a long way from its days in the early 2000’s. For more information about the Android operating system and Android app development, feel free to contact us.
Here are some Android terms you should know
Here is a glossary of terms you can refer back to as you continue in our series. Have a read through them right now to get a brief overview.
ADB: Stands for Android Debug Bridge, a tool that is used primarily by developers to send commands from a computer to Android. It works as a client-server and gives you tools for the devices for debugging.
Application: An application or app is something you use to perform functions on the phone. These range from simple to incredibly complex.
Backup: To keep your data in a safe place in case of a problem where you lose your important information.
Brick: When the device does not start and becomes unusable due to a configuration error after making a change.
Download Mode: Used to install or replace the firmware of your device or a new ROM.
Factory Reset: Restoring the device to the original settings.
KIES: Samsung application that allows you to update and synchronize the data from your smartphone or tablet.
Launcher: Responsible for customizing the device by modifying the user interface.
MicroSD: Removable memory card format. Smaller than MiniSD, it’s used for mobile devices.
ODIN: Program to flash your device.
OTA: Stands for ‘Over The Air’ and refers to updates that are made from your device without using cords or other connectors.
QR: Abbreviation for ‘Quick Response’ and is a black and white code that can be scanned with your device to open a link or application.
Root: The act of unlocking the Android OS to gain complete control over the device through which you can access hidden files, change the ROM or install certain special apps.
Soft Reset: The act of rebooting your phone, intentionally or not. It has the same effect as when you remove your battery.
Wipe: Formatting the device. Deletes the external data from the device.
Windows: In Android apps, they are objects that specify the look and feel of the content.