What is Android

What is Android?

Android is a mobile operating system built on a Linux kernel. It was originally developed by Android, Inc., which was then acquired by Google. Today, the platform is supported and developed by the Open Handset Alliance (OHA), initiated by Google.

The first official version of the system was released in the Fall of 2008. In February of 2022, the Android 13 Developer Preview 1 was released for the Pixel 4 and later models. Android 13 was codenamed Tiramisu (after the famous dessert). The stable version of Android 13 is expected to be released in the fall of 2022.

Each new version of the operating system comes with more useful features while also yielding higher performance indicators and more battery life for the mobile device running it. Plus, Android not only works with smartphones, but also tablets, other “smart” systems, and even devices from different companies.

App developers can take advantage of the following features with the Android system:

  • Java-based applications can control the device using libraries developed by Google
  • Apps created in C and other programming languages can be compiled into ARM code (not officially supported by Google).

Android has the Google Play Store for downloading and installing mobile apps. It usually comes preinstalled on the mobile device. The store features thousands of applications and games conveniently divided into categories, including free, paid, and shareware.

The platform is open source, which has its advantages and drawbacks. On one hand, this provides a wide variety of set-up options for the mobile device, but on the other hand, a user who doesn’t have sufficient knowledge of the system can accidentally break their device by changing its deep settings.

The open source code allows manufacturers to make changes to the interface and functionality of the platform, creating an Android skin.

Advantages of Android

  1. A Simple and Accessible Interface. Figuring out the menu takes little effort by the user. Applications are laid out in an organized way on the device, and only one app store is needed to download them.
  2. Downloadable Third Party Applications. If an app is unavailable in the official app store, the user can download it in an APK file and install it on their device. This capability significantly widens the selection of games and programs.
  3. Multiple Hardware Configurations. Android smartphones are available in a variety of sizes, designs, and feature-sets. Users can choose a device based on the processor, battery capacity, amount of RAM or internal memory, and support for removable drives. The system can adapt to any characteristics.
  4. Storage Expansion. Android supports storage expansion for mobile devices. Memory cards of various sizes can be used for storing photos, videos, and applications. This feature is not available to iOS users.
  5. A Variety of Widgets. Widgets are graphic elements with updatable information (a clock, weather, a calendar, an audio player window, etc.). These can be positioned on the mobile device’s desktop according to the user's preferences. Widgets can be either built-in or third-party, making the design possibilities almost limitless.
  6. Data is Easily Shareable Between Devices. Android devices can be used as removable media, can easily connect to a computer via USB cable, and can exchange information with other devices via Bluetooth.

Disadvantages of Android

  1. Must be Linked to a Google Account. Users must set up a Google account to fully use an Android-based mobile device. Without one, the Google Play Store, Youtube, and many other services are simply inaccessible.
  2. Updates. Unlike Apple, the Android system does not support older mobile devices. Cheaper models may not receive updates at all, and other devices might only receive one or two. Updates can also lead to device slowdowns and errors due to the large number of possible configurations for Android devices, not to mention that manufacturers often use their own skins for the operating system (MIUI for Xiaomi, OneUI for Samsung, etc.).
  3. There is a risk of personal information being leaked to Google servers.

Android Security

Android’s open source code makes it more vulnerable to malware than Apple’s iOS (which is a closed source system). Android mobile devices can be “infected” with a virus to covertly control the device or steal sensitive information.

The operating system’s developers have built in a number of security features, plus the user can control permission settings for apps regarding access to the microphone, camera, the user’s location, and other information.

Android devices have a “safe browsing” mode built into the operating system, which is enabled by default. When using Google Chrome, this feature will alert the user before a suspicious site is opened.

If a user has doubts about their device’s security, they can install antivirus software for Android.

Learn more about selecting a platform for developing your mobile app.

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