What is Android?

Android is an open source platform created by Google in collaboration with Open Handset Alliance (OHA). It is first open source operating system for cellular phones, tablet PCs and notebooks. It was developed by Android Inc who was financially supported by Google and later in 2005 Google purchased it from them when it was almost ready to be launched on 17th August 2005. The Open Handset Alliance is a business alliance of 78 firms for developing open standards for mobile phones. This alliance’s primary objective is to offer android mobile phone user with richer, cheaper and better mobile phone experience. The members of this alliance consist of operators, software corporations, commercial companies and handset manufacturers. There are some big names in Open Handset Firms like T-Mobile, Vodafone, Orange, China Unicom, Telecom Italia, eBay, Google, SkyPop, Teleca, Intel Corp, Nevada Corp, ARM, LG, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, Motorola, HTC, Huawei Tech, Toshiba, Acer and Asus.

The source code of Android operating system is open source that means it is freely available to anyone. One must not be confused thinking that Android is a hardware platform, it is a software platform. All the applications of android are not meant to run on all the mobile phones using the Android OS. Android is though open source but there are few applications in android which are closed source like Google applications (Gtalk, Gmail, Maps, etc.).

Android is an operating system running Linux parameters. Though it is based on Linux, it should not be confused both being the same or closely same. It relies on Linux v2.6 for its basic system functionalities. These functionalities include functions like memory management, process management, security, driver model and network stack. The major reason for choosing Linux was the fact that it is already open source and it supports shared libraries which are used in android. Source code of open source applications can be easily acquired from source.android.com/download.

The first version of android was named Android 1.1 which was made available in February 2009. After that there was series of versions releases like Android Cupcake 1.5 in April 2009, Android 1.6 Donut on September 2009, Android 2.0 Éclair in October 2009, most awaited and rumored edition Android 2.2 Froyo (WI-fi hotspot functionality introduced) in May 2010, Android 2.3 Gingerbread in December 2010 and Android 3.0 Honeycomb (video talk introduced) in May 2011. One must note that android development can be only done on Ubuntu and MacOS X. All the applications are programmed in Java language. The first publically available was the snake game.

HTC G1 was the first retail android phone launched on October 22nd 2008. And just within two years Android became the world’s most popular smart phone’s platform. It sets the new records by capturing the 59% of the Smartphone market share in January 2012. Currently there are 675,000 apps in the Google Play (Android Market) and it has reached the milestone of total 25 billion downloads. There are total 500 million androids devices active and 1.3 million devices are being activated every day.