Is a Linux-based operating system for mobile devicessuch as smartphones and tablet computers, developed by Google in conjunction with the Open Handset Alliance. 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 advancingopen standards for mobile devices. Google releases theAndroid code as open-source, under the Apache License.The Android Open Source Project (AOSP) is tasked withthe maintenance and further development of Android.
Android has a large community of developers writing applications ("apps") that extend the functionality ofthe devices. Developers write primarily in a customizedversion 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 world’s leading smartphoneplatform at the end of 2010. For the first quarter of 2012, Android had a 59% smartphone market shareworldwide. At the half of 2012, there were 400 million devices activated and 1 million activations per day.
FoundationAndroid, Inc. was founded in October 2003 by Andy Rubin(co-founder of Danger), (co-founder of WildfireCommunications, Inc.), Nick Sears (once VP at T-Mobile),and Chris White (headed design and interfacedevelopment at WebTV) to develop, in Rubins words"...smarter mobile devices that are more aware of itsowners 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. Thatsame year, Rubin ran out of money. Steve Perlman,a close friend of Rubin, brought him $10,000 in cashin an envelope and refused a stake in the company.
Google acquisitionGoogle acquisitionGoogle acquired Android Inc. on August 17, 2005, makingAndroid Inc. a wholly owned subsidiary of Google. Keyemployees of Android Inc., including Andy Rubin, RichMiner and Chris White, stayed at the company after theacquisition. Not much was known about Android Inc. atthe time of the acquisition, but many assumed thatGoogle was planning to enter the mobile phone marketwith this move.
At Google, the team led by Rubin developed a mobiledevice platform powered by the Linux kernel. Googlemarketed the platform to handset makers and carrierson the promise of providing a flexible, upgradablesystem. Google had lined up a series of hardwarecomponent and software partners and signaled tocarriers that it was open to various degrees ofcooperation on their part.
Speculation about Googles intention to enter themobile communications market continued to buildthrough December 2006. Reports from the BBC and TheWall Street Journal noted that Google wanted itssearch and applications on mobile phones and it wasworking hard to deliver that.
Print and online media outlets soon reported rumorsthat Google was developing a Google-branded handset.Some speculated that as Google was defining technicalspecifications, it was showing prototypes to cellphone manufacturers and network operators.
In September 2007, InformationWeekcovered an Evalueserve studyreporting that Google had filedseveral patent applications in thearea of mobile telephony.
Open Handset AllianceOn November 5, 2007, the Open Handset Alliance, aconsortium of several companies which include BroadcomCorporation, Google, HTC, Intel, LG, Marvell TechnologyGroup, Motorola, Nvidia, Qualcomm, SamsungElectronics, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile and Texas Instrumentsunveiled itself
The goal of the Open Handset Alliance is to develop openstandards for mobile devices. On the same day, the OpenHandset Alliance also unveiled its first product,Android, a mobile device platform built on the Linuxkernel version 2.6.
On December 9, 2008, 14 new members joined, includingARM Holdings, Athero Communications, Asustek ComputerInc, Garmin Ltd, Huawei Technologies, PacketVideo,Softback, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba Corp, and Vodafone GroupPlc.
Android Open Source ProjectThe Android Open Source Project (AOSP) is led by Google,and is tasked with the maintenance and development ofAndroid. According to the project "The goal of theAndroid Open Source Project is to create a successfulreal-world product that improves the mobileexperience for end users."
AOSP also maintains the Android Compatibility Program,defining an "Android compatible" device "as one that canrun any application written by third-party developers usingthe Android SDK and NDK", to prevent incompatibleAndroid implementations. The compatibility program is alsooptional and free of charge, with the Compatibility TestSuite also free and open-source.
DesignAndroid consists of a kernel based on the Linux kernel2.6 and Linux Kernel 3.x (Android 4.0 onwards), withmiddleware, libraries and APIs written in C andapplication software running on an applicationframework which includes Java-compatible librariesbased on Apache Harmony. Android uses the Dalvikvirtual machine with just-in-time compilation to runDalvik dex-code (Dalvik Executable), which is usuallytranslated from Java bytecode.
The main hardware platform for Android is the ARMarchitecture. There is support for x86 from theAndroid x86 project, and Google TV uses a special x86version of Android.
LinuxAndroids kernel is based on the Linux kernel and hasfurther architecture changes by Google outside the typicalLinux kernel development cycle. Android does not have anative X Window System by default nor does it support thefull set of standard GNU libraries, and this makes it difficultto port existing Linux applications or libraries to Android.