What Is Android?

Android is a mobile operating system that is based on a modified version of Linux. It was originally developed by a startup of the same name, Android, Inc. In 2005, as part of its strategy to enter the mobile space, Google purchased Android, Inc. and took over its development work (as well as its development team).

Google wanted the Android OS to be open and free, so most of the Android code was released  under the open source Apache License. That means anyone who wants to use Android can do so by downloading the full Android source code. Moreover, vendors (typically hardware manufacturers) can add their own proprietary extensions to Android and customize Android to differentiate their products from others. This development model makes Android very attractive to vendors, especially those companies affected by the phenomenon of Apple’s iPhone, which was a hugely successful product that revolutionized the smartphone industry. When the iPhone was launched, many smart- phone manufacturers had to scramble to find new ways of revitalizing their products. These manu- facturers saw Android as a solution, meaning they will continue to design their own hardware and use Android as the operating system that powers it. Some companies that have taken advantage of Android’s open source policy include Motorola and Sony Ericsson, which have been developing their own mobile operating systems for many years.

The main advantage to adopting Android is that it offers a unified approach to application develop- ment. Developers need only develop for Android in general, and their applications should be able to run on numerous different devices, as long as the devices are powered using Android. In the world of smartphones, applications are the most important part of the success chain.

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