Android is a Linux-based operating system for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers, developed by Google in conjunction with the Open Handset Alliance. The first Android- powered smartphones were sold in Q1 2009, and has since grown to become the biggest smartphone operating system. Android was initially developed by Android Inc, whom Google financially backed and later purchased in 2005.The unveiling of the Android distribution in 2007 was announced with the founding of the Open Handset Alliance, a consortium of 86 hardware, software, and telecommunication companies devoted to advancing open standards for mobile devices. Google releases the Android code as open-source, under the Apache License.The Android Open Source Project (AOSP) is tasked with the maintenance and further development of Android.
Android has a large community of developers writing applications ("apps") that extend the functionality of the devices. Developers write primarily in a customized version of Java,and apps can be downloaded from online stores such as Google Play (formerly Android Market), the app store run by Google, or third-party sites. In June 2012, there were more than 600,000 apps available for Android, and the estimated number of applications downloaded from Google Play was 20 billion. Android became the worlds leading smartphone platform at the end of 2010. For the first quarter of 2012, Android had a 59% smartphone market share worldwide. As of third quarter 2012, there were 480 million devices activated and 1.3 million activations per day.
Foundation Android, Inc. was founded in Palo Alto, California, United States in October 2003 by Andy Rubin (co-founder of Danger), Rich Miner(co-founder of Wildfire Communications, Inc.),Nick Sears(once VP at T-Mobile),and Chris White (headed design and interface development at WebTV) to develop, in Rubins words "...smarter mobile devices that are more aware of its owners location and preferences".Despite the obvious past accomplishments of the founders and early employees, Android Inc. operated secretly, revealing only that it was working on software for mobile phones. That same year, Rubin ran out of money. Steve Perlman, a close friend of Rubin, brought him $10,000 in cash in an envelope and refused a stake in the company.
Home screen displayed by Samsung Galaxy Nexus,running Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean"
Google acquired Android Inc. on August 17, 2005, making Android Inc. a wholly owned subsidiary of Google. Key employees of Android Inc., including Andy Rubin, Rich Miner and Chris White, stayed at the company after the acquisition. Not much was known about Android Inc. at the time of the acquisition, but many assumed that Google was planning to enter the mobile phone market with this move. At Google, the team led by Rubin developed a mobile device platform powered by the Linux kernel. Google marketed the platform to handset makers and carriers on the promise of providing a flexible, upgradable system. Google had lined up a series of hardware component and software partners and signaled to carriers that it was open to various degrees of cooperation on their part. Speculation about Googles intention to enter the mobile communications market continued to build through December 2006.Reports from the BBC and The Wall Street Journal noted that Google wanted its search and applications on mobile phones and it was working hard to deliver that. Print and online media outlets soon reported rumors that Google was developing a Google-branded handset. Some speculated that as Google was defining technical specifications, it was showing prototypes to cell phone manufacturers and network operators.
Android consists of a kernel based on the Linux kernel2.6 and Linux Kernel 3.x (Android 4.0 onwards), with middleware, libraries and APIs written in C and application software running on an application framework which includes Java- compatible libraries based on Apache Harmony. Android uses the Dalvik virtual machine with just-in- time compilation to run Dalvik dex-code (Dalvik Executable), which is usually translated from Java bytecode. The main hardware platform for Android is the ARM architecture. There is support for x86 from the Android x86 project, and Google TV uses a special x86 version of Android.
Google Play is an online software store developed by Google for Android devices. An application program ("app") called "Play Store" is preinstalled on most Android devices and allows users to browse and download apps published by third-party developers, hosted on Google Play. As of June 2012, there were more than 600,000 apps available for Android, and the estimated number of applications downloaded from the Play Store exceeded 20 billion. The operating system itself is installed on 400 million total devices. Only devices that comply with Googles compatibility requirements are allowed to preinstall and access the Play Store. The app filters the list of available applications to those that are compatible with the users device, and developers may restrict their applications to particular carriers or countries for business reasons.
Android applications run in a sandbox, an isolated area of the operating system that does not have access to the rest of the systems resources, unless access permissions are granted by the user when the application is installed. Before installing an application, the Play Store displays all required permissions. A game may need to enable vibration, for example, but should not need to read messages or access the phonebook. After reviewing these permissions, the user can decide whether to install the application. The sandboxing and permissions system weakens the impact of vulnerabilities and bugs in applications, but developer confusion and limited documentation has resulted in applications routinely requesting unnecessary permissions, reducing its effectiveness.The complexity of inter-application communication implies Android may have opportunities to run unauthorized code.
Android smartphones have the ability to report the location of Wi-Fi access points, encountered as phone users move around, to build databases containing the physical locations of hundreds of millions of such access points. These databases form electronic maps to locate smartphones, allowing them to run apps like Foursquare, Latitude, Places, and to deliver location-based ads. Third party monitoring software such as TaintDroid, an academic research-funded project, can, in some cases, detect when personal information is being sent from applications to remote servers.
Both Android and Android phone manufacturers have been the target of numerous patent lawsuits. On August 12, 2010, Oracle sued Google over claimed infringement of copyrights and patents related to the Java programming language. Oracle originally sought damages up to $6.1 billion,but this valuation was rejected by a federal judge who asked Oracle to revise the estimate. In response, Google submitted multiple lines of defense, counterclaiming that Android did not infringe on Oracles patents or copyright, that Oracles patents were invalid, and several other defenses. They said that Android is based on Apache Harmony, a clean room implementation of the Java class libraries, and an independently developed virtual machine called Dalvik. In May 2012 the jury in this case found that Google did not infringe on Oracles patents, and the trial judge ruled that the structure of the Java APIs used by Google was not copyrightable.
Top 10 Android PhonesAndroid phones come in a variety of forms andflavors. Here are the best smartphones running Googles innovative mobile platform.
The HTC One S is the ultimate multimedia phone, fromgaming to musicto snapping high quality photos.
The best Androidphone to date, the Galaxy Nexus dazzles with its curved display,sleek design, fastperformance, and, of course, the Ice Cream Sandwich update.
If you can deal with subpar battery life, the HTC Rezound is an excellent phone that wont feel outdated anytime soon.
The MyTouch 4G Slide has one ofthe best camerasweve ever tested- -and the rest of the phone ispretty amazing as well.
The Droid RazrMaxx packs in a dual-coreprocessor, largebattery and LTE in a very thin frame.
The slim andspeedy SamsungEpic Touch 4G is excellent for gaming, Web browsing and watching video,but the plastickydesign feels a bit on the cheap side.
The thin andelegant Motorola Droid Razr is smoking when it comes to data speeds andperformance, butthe short battery life is adisappointment.
The long- awaited DroidBionic is blazing fast and has a slew of great entertainment and business features, but the high pricemight make it a hard sell.
Like the restof the GalaxyS II series, theGalaxy S II on T-Mobile is one of the best phones currently available, hands down.
Uneven callquality doesntstop the Evo 3D from being the best phone currently available on Sprint.