What is Android?
Google Android OS is Google’s Linux-based open source operating system for mobile devices. Android has been the world’s most widely used smartphone platform as of 2010, with a worldwide smartphone market share of 75%.
Android offers users a “direct manipulation” interface for smart, natural phone use. Android’s open source code and permissive licensing allows device manufacturers, wireless carriers, and developers to adjust, customize, and distribute the platform freely.
Android System Versions: Donut to JellyBean
Android releases a few updated versions of its operating system every year. Android system versions are named with a dessert theme, the original being Donut 1.6 in 2009, and the latest being JellyBean 4.2 in 2012.
Currently there are 10 different Android versions, with Gingerbread being the most popular, running on 44% of devices. Gingerbread, despite being released in 2011, continues to be the most popular Android version due to many lower end devices still being released with it. The next most popular version is Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) with just under 30%
The latest Android update is Android 4.2 JellyBean, featuring a new camera experience, new form of typing, and Google Now.
Android or iPhone: Android for Google Apps
The debate between Android vs. iPhone continues, with enthusiasts from both camps making their cases. While the sleek, visually stunning design of the iPhone wins over many, Android receives the latest Google mobile products, as Google strives to push and challenge the boundaries of mobile devices.
The price point for Android devices, with Android tablets or Android phones, also tends to be lower than Apple devices.
Android Features and Google Products
Google products are designed to work best on Android smartphones and tablets. This means that with an Android phone, users get optimized Google mobile voice search, Google Chrome mobile integration, Google Goggles, Google Shopper, Google Wallet, Google Maps and directions, Google Play Store, YouTube for Android, Google+ Local, and more.
Android lets users customize their smartphones for a unique and tailored experience. Users can add widgets to their home screen, receive notifications of texts, voicemail, and missed calls, and switch between various apps with multi-tasking capabilities.
Apps for Android
There are numerous Android mobile apps, or applications, that extend the functionality of Android devices. The Google Play Store, which serves as the primary Android app market, has over 700,000 Android apps available for purchase or free.