Android System

The world has seen a tremendous growth in mobile technology in the last two decades. Starting as an electronic device used to make phone calls, mobiles have now become an indispensible part of our lives. Each day, new features are being added to the mobiles – Camera, Music, Web Browsing and what not. All these features require a strong Operating System as a platform for the various softwares. From the earlier black and white mobiles to the present day smartphones, the mobile Operating System (OS) has indeed come a long way. One of the most successful mobile OS these days is the Android.

What is android?

Android is a Linux based operating system, maintained by Google, used for mobile phones and tablets. It is a bunch of softwares comprising not only the OS but other applications (Apps) also. For any function we wish to perform, we launch an app. There are apps not only for dialling the phone, text messaging and browsing contacts but for several other features like email client, navigation, social networking and other stuff. These apps can be downloaded from the android market online or from other online app stores. They can also be installed manually on the android device. These apps may be free or paid.

Android is an open source OS, i.e. the mobile manufacturers do not have to pay Google for using Android in their devices. They are also allowed to modify it according to their hardware. This provides the flexibility of using Android in low budget small phones as well as high-end handsets. This feature increases the adoptability of Android in major mobile phones.

History of android

Andy Rubin, Rich Miner, Nick Sears and Chris White founded the Android Inc. in Palo Alto, California, United States in October 2003. They were working on softwares for mobile phones to makes smarter phones. Google acquired Android Inc. on august 17, 2005. Android Beta Software Development Kit (SDK) was released on 12th November 2007. It allowed the people to develop an app on their own. HTC Dream (G1) was the first android device featuring Android 1.0 (Cupcake). Since then, there have been a number of updates in Android, each time with the elimination of bugs and addition of features.

Uses

Although Android was designed with mobile phones in mind, but the customizable nature of the open source OS allows it to be used in tablets, laptops, eBook readers and even smart TVs (Google TV). Many companies are planning to use it in gadgets like wristwatches, CD/DVD Players, Game Consoles and Cameras.

Versions of Android

Version

Released On

Features

Android 1.0

23/09/2008

  • The world’s first open source mobile OS
  • It provided creative user-interface designs and apps
  • Advanced Web Browser
  • Multitasking, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

Android 1.5 Cupcake

30/04/2009

  • Onscreen keyboard text prediction
  • Uploading videos and photos on YouTube and Picasa
  • GPS navigation
  • Better Camera start-up and Image Quality

Android 1.6 Donut

15/09/2009

  • Google Maps with turn-by-turn navigation
  • Android Market became friendlier
  • Voice and Universal Search operations became quicker
  • CDMA Support, Battery Usage Indicator and text-t0-speech function

Android 2.0 Éclair

26/10/2010

  • Built-in flash support for Camera
  • Live Wallpaper with animation
  • Multiple email accounts and email synchronisation
  • New Browser User Interface

Android 2.2 Froyo

20/05/2010

  • Video could be watched online with the introduction of Adobe Flash 10.1
  • Improvement in OS Speed
  • USB Tethering and Wi-Fi hotspot support

Android 2.3 Gingerbread

06/12/2010

  • Internet Calling
  • More Accurate typing
  • One touch word selection and copy paste feature
  • Near Field Communication (NFC)

Android 3.0 Honeycomb

02/02/2011

  • Specifically oriented for tablets and devices with large screens
  • Media Transfer Protocol support
  • USB Host Mode for Direct Connection
  • Better Multitasking and Customization

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

19/10/2011

  • Bought Honeycomb Features to smartphones
  • Facial Recognition Unlock
  • Unified Social Networking Contacts
  • Offline email searching
  • Photography enhancements and data sharing using NFC

                                                                                 Popular Android Versions

android version popularity

The market share of different versions of Android can be seen from the above chart. We can clearly see that Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) is the most successful Android version till now.

Latest Android Version

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich comes with a bunch of new features which integrates your Smartphone and tablet experience. Unlike previous versions, it instantly transforms words into text with a much better interface. Based on the NFC technology, it allows users to securely exchange data and media between two smartphones. Since it works on Smartphone and tablet both, thus developers need not create different apps for them. It captures image at ridiculously fast speed and enables the user to use multiple effects on the snap. Easy multi-tasking, rich notifications, customizable homescreen and deep interactivity make this version the best from Android.

Popularity on Android

From the chart below, it is quite clear that Android is the leader in Smartphone OS.
popularity of android

The reasons behind the popularity of Android OS in Smartphones are many. One of them is the Android SDK (Software Development Kit) that has made the development of apps much easier on the Android platform. Since Android OS is open source, hence the apps are available for free or at very low prices. Moreover, Android gives its customers more variety of devices as all giant mobile phone companies (except Apple and Blackberry) are manufacturing Android based devices. To increase its acceptability in the market, Android needs to address the issues discussed below. Only after their solution, Android will overthrow all its competitors and rule the market.

Benefits of Android OS

  • It can run multiple apps simultaneously regardless of whether they are apps from the android market or system apps. Thus Android users can listen to music in the background while writing a message and even receive notifications without causing any function to stop.
  • Android allows the user to customize the homescreen according to his needs. Thus active widgets are easily accessible even without launching the application every time. There are widgets on weather information, playing music or even facebook.
  • Android has a vast and completely open market. The android market is managed totally by its customers and there is no censorship, so its growth is phenomenal.
  • One of the greatest advantages of Android is the wide choice of mobiles. Almost all the major mobile manufacturers are providing Android driven phones, hence the customer has the freedom to choose the hardware without compromising with the Android OS. Android also provides many options to fit the budget of the customer.
  • Since Android is a Google venture, it gives us better social connectivity by integrating email, photos, documents and social networking. Gmail account can be synchronized with the phone; photos from phone can automatically be uploaded to Picasa; phone contacts can be synchronized with Facebook.
  • Android has a better user interface because it functions faster. It allows performing operations like turning on Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS and responding to notifications directly from the homescreen. With the wide variety of widgets available, almost all the major functions can be controlled through the homescreen

Issues that need to be addressed

  • The update process of Android is quite complex. The main reason is that Google does not work with vendor partners to simplify the update process. Thus the customer has to wait for his turn to get an update which is quite tedious most of the times.
  • The android market is not much developer friendly, since the developers of the apps are unable to generate the revenue that they deserve and expect.
  • Since the Android Market is mostly driven by the customers where anyone can develop their app, this poses serious security complications. Recently, Google removed several apps after they were found to contain malware. Several Developers are developing Android Security Apps to address this issue.
  • Android lacks the polish possessed by its greatest competitor Apple. Android is undoubtedly growing at a rapid pace but it cannot be denied that it is not yet on the same level as iOS developed by Apple. It is still not able to deliver the quality that the customers are after and can be said to be a little raw as compared to the iOS.
  • Android might have tasted its bit of success in the field of phones but it is nowhere near success when it comes to tablets. Android based tablets that are available in the market are unable to compete with iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab or Dell Streak. Google will have to think of a way to make Android based tablets more relevant in the market.
  • Because of the frequent updates in the Android version, before the manufacturers are able to deliver a device supporting the current version, a newer one pops up. Also the software developers have to support all the versions while making a new app. Thus Google must reduce the fragmentation of Android to make it more market friendly.