Android, also know as Droid, is an operating system for last generation mobile phones. The OS has been developed by Google and is currently the most spread operating system for smartphones in the world, used by more than 33% of the market. Android also runs on tablets developed by Google Inc. as well.
The purchase of Android by Google happened six years ago, in 2005, and the first time it was distributed was in November 2007. The unveiling was announced with the founding of the Open Handset Alliance, which is a consortium of 80 IT companies working for mobile phones improvements. Most of the code for Android was released by Google under the Apache License, which makes Android licensed as free software.
The OS is based on the Linux kernel and is written with middleware, libraries and APIs in C language, and includes Java-compatible libraries as well. Like the other very popular OS on the market, Apple’s iOS, Android has a large database of third-party applications developed by independent programmers or companies, most of them written in Java. More than 250.000 applications are currently available in the Android Market ran by Google. The applications can also be downloaded from other sites, but it is recommended to use the versions from the official market of the OS.
Android is right now the most popular and best-selling smartphone platform in the world, according to Canalys and comScore. Google’s OS was the best sold in the fourth quarter of 2010.
Since its original release, several updates were made for Android. Each version of Android has a code number and a nickname, and the most recent versions are the following: 2.0 Eclair, 2.1 Eclair, 2.2 Froyo, 2.3 Gingerbread, 3.0 Honeycomb, 3.1 Honeycomb and 3.2 Honeycomb. The 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich version is set to be released in Q4 of 2011, being currently in the development and testing process.
Android is mainly powered up by hardware from the ARM architecture. The Android-x86 project offers support for x86 and Google TV uses a special version of Android, working on x86 as well. The first smartphone to use Android was HTC Dream, released in October 2008. Google collaborated with HTC for its first Android device, Google Nexus One, while the 2010 version was made in collaboration with Samsung: Google Nexus S.
Though it works on the Linux kernel, Android had some security issues over the time. In August 2010, a SMS Trojan infected a large number of devices, while in March 2011 Google found 58 malicious applications in the Android Market, which were downloaded to around 260.000 devices. Most of the applications were hiding Trojans and infected many devices. The latest study made in August 2011 stated that around half a million Android users were infected by malware in the first half of 2011.
Nevertheless, Android still remains one of the most popular operating systems in the world, and the only competitor, Apple’s iOS, is still placed quite at a distance in the ranks.