Friday, June 7, 2013

What is Android?

It has been back in September 2008 that a little chubby green robot made it's first public appearance on a mobile touchscreen device. Almost 5 years later, and the Android robot is stronger than ever.  Google's mobile operating system has been incredibly successful in managing to find it's way to almost every smartphone and tablet out there. Still, there are folks who wonder about the green robot, finding themselves in a middle of a little puzzlement, trying to understand what it all means. If you find yourself in this category than consider this article as a crash course in all things Android. Keep on reading and the uncertainty will end here! 

What is Android?

To cut a long story short, Android is the world's most popular mobile operating system and it can be found mostly on smartphones and tablets.
Android is a Linux-based mobile phone operating system that is actively developed and owned by all mighty Google. What differentiate Google's Android operating system from Apple's iOS mobile operating system or Microsoft's Windows Phone is the fact that Google is giving it away for free to different hardware manufacturers like Samsung, Sony, LG, Motorola or HTC to name just a few. This companies can than add their own twist and customization's to the vanilla software provided to them by Google and that is way you will find a galore of Android user interfaces on smartphones. But, at their core, all of them have inside Android's green robots.

Google is constantly developing and updating Android software and this updates normally come out every six to eight months. Android software versions usually arrive with codenames that are named after desserts like Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich and with the latest and greatest  being Jelly Bean. The next Android iteration will be called Key Lime Pie. Hungry for more? Read on!

So, what can i do with an Android phone? 


Mostly, all you can think about. From simple tasks like reading your favorite newspaper, writing an email or diving yourself deep in to social networking, listening music or watching HD videos to more complex tasks like finding your way through the world by using your phones GPS navigation or counting every single calorie that you had burned on that last wild bicycle ride through the woods!

The open nature of the Android mobile operating system offers application developers a lot of room to maneuver. Most of the flagship phones have a plenitude of hardware sensors on their insides and outsides like temperature & humidity sensor, accelerometer, barometer, GPS, proximity sensors and many others ( over 10 sensors are present in some cases ) and by combining this hardware sensors with software wizardry you will be amazed by the ingenuity, resourcefulness  and inventiveness of some application developers.

What are these apps i keep hearing about and where can i get them?


You can  literally find hundreds of thousands of apps and games available in Google Play Store. It is predicted that in June 2013, the one million available application holy grail will be reached and surpassed. Most of them are free for you to download and use (in some cases advertising will be displayed), for others you will have to pay a small fee and lastly, there are a few application with monthly subscription. 

In Google Play Store you can find applications for photo editing, video editing, weather forecast, productivity application like calendars, document editing applications and office surrogates, application for fm or satellite radio listening and music&video players. And this is just the the tip of the iceberg. You can find apps that track your daily calories intake, track you sleeping habits or count your every step you take, application that can tell you how long was your last jogging session, what was your average heart rate or how many calories you have burned.

And of course there are games. Games! Unless you have been living under a rock for the last couple of years, you've probably heard of and played Angry Birds, Temple Run, Diamonds Blaze and many others, the list can go on forever.

As more and more software developers tend to build platform agnostic applications, you can rest assured that you will always find applications that will suit your every need.

 Who makes Android smartphones? Now i really want one!


All the major consumer electronics manufacturers like Samsung, LG and Sony are producing top of the line smartphones. HTC is specialized in producing only smartphones and they are pretty successful at doing just this. Google also is a big player in this market through his own line of products, Nexus, which are manufactured under licence by LG, Samsung or Motorola, the last one being acquired by Google last year. The Chinese are present ( how could they not be?) in this emerging market through their own brands, most notably ZTE and Huawei.

Not every android smartphone is created equal and not one is alike. They come in many different colors, shapes, sizes and specific hardware configurations. Some have dual, quad or even octa cores incredibly fast processors, others have 10 or 12 MPx powerful cameras and most of them have gorgeous big 4' to 5' inch AMOLED or LED touchscreens.

Some of the most popular android smartphones on the market now are Samsung Galaxy S4 (1080p, 4.9' Amoled screen), Google Nexus 4 (720p, 4.7' Lcd screen) and, my favorite, the beautifully and carefully designed HTC One.

Closing words

Google's android ecosystem is constantly growing and expanding enveloping in the process big chunks of smartphones market. Even more than this, android is fast in establishing itself as the #1 player on  tablet market to. So you see, there's really no escaping from Google's green robot embrace. If you plan to become a well informed citizen in all things android, visit this blog regularly and i will do my best to keep you updated with the latest developments and fresh details regarding Google's smartphone&tablet operating system.   

By Aleman Adrian