Android (operating system)
Home screen displayed by Samsung Nexus S with Google running Android 2.3 "Gingerbread"
|Company / developer||Google Inc.,
Open Handset Alliance
|Programmed in||C (core), Java (UI)|
|Source model||Free and open source software (3.0 is currently still closed source) |
|Initial release||21 October 2008 (2008-10-21)|
|Latest stable release||Tablets:
2.3.4 (Gingerbread) / 24 February 2011 (2011-02-24)
|Supported platforms||ARM, MIPS, x86|
|Kernel type||Linux kernel|
|Default user interface||Graphical|
|License||Apache 2.0, Linux kernel patches are under GPL v2|
Android is a software stack for mobile devices that includes an operating system, middleware and key applications. Google Inc. purchased the initial developer of the software, Android Inc., in 2005. Android's mobile operating system is based on the Linux kernel. Google and other members of the Open Handset Alliance collaborated on Android's development and release. The Android Open Source Project (AOSP) is tasked with the maintenance and further development of Android. The Android operating system is the world's best-selling Smartphone platform.
Android has a large community of developers writing applications ("apps") that extend the functionality of the devices. There are currently over 200,000 apps available for Android. Android Market is the online app store run by Google, though apps can also be downloaded from third-party sites. Developers write primarily in the Java language, controlling the device via Google-developed Java libraries.
The unveiling of the Android distribution on 5 November 2007 was announced with the founding of the Open Handset Alliance, a consortium of 80 hardware, software, and telecom companies devoted to advancing open standards for mobile devices. Google released most of the Android code under the Apache License, a free software and open source license.
The Android open-source software stack consists of Java applications running on a Java-based, object-oriented application framework on top of Java core libraries running on a Dalvik virtual machine featuring JIT compilation. Libraries written in C include the surface manager, OpenCore media framework, SQLite relational database management system, OpenGL ES 2.0 3D graphics API, WebKit layout engine, SGL graphics engine, SSL, and Bionic libc. The Android operating system, including the Linux kernel, consists of roughly 12 million lines of code including 3 million lines of XML, 2.8 million lines of C, 2.1 million lines of Java, and 1.75 million lines of C++.
 Android Inc. founded in 2003
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 Rubin's words "...smarter mobile devices that are more aware of its owner's location and preferences." Despite the obvious past accomplishments of the founders and early employees, Android Inc. operated secretively, admitting only that it was working on software for mobile phones.
 Android Inc. acquired by Google
Google acquired Android Inc. in August, 2005, making Android Inc. a wholly owned subsidiary of Google Inc. 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.
 Development accelerates
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 premise 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 Google's 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.
 Open Handset Alliance
On the November 5, 2007 the Open Handset Alliance, a consortium of several companies which include Broadcom Corporation, Google, HTC, Intel, LG, Marvell Technology Group, Motorola, Nvidia, Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile and Texas Instruments unveiled itself. The goal of the Open Handset Alliance is to develop open standards for mobile devices. On the same day, the Open Handset Alliance also unveiled their first product, Android, a mobile device platform built on the Linux kernel version 2.6.
On December 9, 2008, 14 new members joined, including ARM Holdings, Atheros Communications, Asustek Computer Inc, Garmin Ltd, PacketVideo, Softbank, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba Corp, and Vodafone Group Plc.
With the exception of brief update periods, Android has been available under a free software/open source license since October, 21 2008. Google published the entire source code (including network and telephony stacks) under an Apache License. Google also keeps the reviewed issues list publicly open for anyone to see and comment.
Even though the software is open-source, device manufacturers can not use Google's Android trademark unless Google certifies that the device complies with their Compatibility Definition Document (CDD). Devices must also meet this definition to be eligible to license Google's closed-source applications, including Android Market.
In September 2010, Skyhook Wireless filed a lawsuit against Google in which they alleged that Google had used the compatibility document to block Skyhook's mobile positioning service (XPS) from Motorola's Android mobile devices. In December 2010 a judge denied Skyhook's motion for preliminary injunction, saying that Google had not closed off the possibility of accepting a revised version of Skyhook's XPS service, and that Motorola had terminated their contract with Skyhook because Skyhook wanted to disable Google's location data collection functions on Motorola's devices, which would have violated Motorola's obligations to Google and its carriers.
 Version history
Android has seen a number of updates since its original release. These updates to the base operating system typically focus on fixing bugs as well as adding new features. Generally each new version of the Android operating system is developed under a code name based on a dessert item. Past updates included Cupcake and Donut. It must also be noted the version names are in alphabetical order (e.g., Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo)
The most recent released versions of Android are:
- 2.0/2.1 (Eclair), which revamped the user interface and introduced HTML5 and Exchange ActiveSync 2.5 support
- 2.3 (Gingerbread), which refined the user interface, improved the soft keyboard and copy/paste features, and added support for Near Field Communication
- 3.0/3.1 (Honeycomb), a tablet-oriented release which supports larger screen devices and introduces many new user interface features, and supports multicore processors and hardware acceleration for graphics. The Honeycomb SDK has been released and the first device featuring this version, the Motorola Xoom tablet, went on sale in February 2011. Google has chosen to withhold the Honeycomb source code, which called into question the "open-ness" of this Android release. Google's Andy Rubin stated that the latest Android source code would be released "when it is ready". The reason for the delay, according to Rubin in an official Android blog post, was because Honeycomb was rushed for production of the Motorola Xoom. Google later confirmed that the Honeycomb source code would not be released until after it was merged with the Gingerbread release in Ice Cream Sandwich.
The upcoming version of Android is:
- Ice Cream Sandwich, a combination of Gingerbread and Honeycomb into a "cohesive whole," with no official release date as of yet. Internet rumor and conjecture puts a release somewhere in Q4 2011.
|Handset layouts||The platform is adaptable to larger, VGA, 2D graphics library, 3D graphics library based on OpenGL ES 2.0 specifications, and traditional smartphone layouts.|
|Storage||SQLite, a lightweight relational database, is used for data storage purposes|
|Connectivity||Android supports connectivity technologies including GSM/EDGE, IDEN, CDMA, EV-DO, UMTS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi (no connections through Proxy server and no Ad hoc wireless network), LTE, NFC and WiMAX.|
|Messaging||SMS and MMS are available forms of messaging, including threaded text messaging and now Android Cloud to Device Messaging Framework (C2DM) is also a part of Android Push Messaging service.|
|Multiple Language Support||Multiple languages are available on Android. The number of languages more than doubled for the platform 2.3 (Gingerbread). Yet Android lacks font rendering of several languages even after official announcements of added support (e.g. Hindi).|
|Java support||While most Android applications are written in Java, there is no Java Virtual Machine in the platform and Java byte code is not executed. Java classes are compiled into Dalvik executables and run on the Dalvik virtual machine. Dalvik is a specialized virtual machine designed specifically for Android and optimized for battery-powered mobile devices with limited memory and CPU. J2ME support can be provided via third-party-applications.|
|Media support||Android supports the following audio/video/still media formats: WebM, H.263, H.264 (in 3GP or MP4 container), MPEG-4 SP, AMR, AMR-WB (in 3GP container), AAC, HE-AAC (in MP4 or 3GP container), MP3, MIDI, Ogg Vorbis, WAV, JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP.|
|Streaming media support||RTP/RTSP streaming (3GPP PSS, ISMA), HTML progressive download (HTML5 <video> tag). Adobe Flash Streaming (RTMP) and HTTP Dynamic Streaming are supported by the Flash 10.1 plugin. Apple HTTP Live Streaming is supported by RealPlayer for Mobile and planned to be supported by the operating system in Android 3.0 (Honeycomb). Microsoft Smooth Streaming is planned to be supported through the awaited port of Silverlight plugin to Android.|
|Additional hardware support||Android can use video/still cameras, touchscreens, GPS, accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers, dedicated gaming controls, proximity and pressure sensors, thermometers, accelerated 2D bit blits (with hardware orientation, scaling, pixel format conversion) and accelerated 3D graphics.|
|Development environment||Includes a device emulator, tools for debugging, memory and performance profiling. The integrated development environment (IDE) is Eclipse (currently 3.4 or greater) using the Android Development Tools (ADT) Plugin. The programming languages are Java and C/C++.|
|Market||The Android Market is a catalog of applications that can be downloaded and installed to Android devices over-the-air, without the use of a PC.|
|Multi-touch||Android has native support for multi-touch which was initially made available in handsets such as the HTC Hero. The feature was originally disabled at the kernel level (possibly to avoid infringing Apple's patents on touch-screen technology at the time). Google has since released an update for the Nexus One and the Motorola Droid which enables multi-touch natively.|
|Bluetooth||Supports A2DP, AVRCP, sending files (OPP), accessing the phone book (PBAP), voice dialing and sending contacts between phones. Keyboard, mouse and joystick (HID) support is available through manufacturer customizations and third-party applications. Full HID support is planned for Android 3.0 (Honeycomb).|
|Video calling||The mainstream Android version does not support video calling, but some handsets have a customized version of the operating system which supports it, either via UMTS network (like the Samsung Galaxy S) or over IP. Video calling through Google Talk is planned for Android 3.0 (Honeycomb). Android 2.3.4 has added Video calling through Google Talk.|
|Multitasking||Multitasking of applications is available.|
|Voice based features||Google search through voice has been available since initial release. Voice actions for calling, texting, navigation, etc. are supported on Android 2.2 onwards.|
|Tethering||Android supports tethering, which allows a phone to be used as a wireless/wired hotspot. Prior to Android 2.2 this was supported by third-party applications or manufacturer customizations.|
 Hardware running Android
The first commercially available phone to run the Android operating system was the HTC Dream, released on 22 October 2008. In early 2010 Google collaborated with HTC to launch its flagship Android device, the Nexus One. This was followed later in 2010 with the Samsung-made Nexus S.
 Android Market
Android Market is the online software store developed by Google for Android devices. An application program ("app") called "Market" is preinstalled on most Android devices and allows users to browse and download apps published by third-party developers, hosted on Android Market. As of December 2010[update] there were about 200,000 games, applications and widgets available on the Android Market. In April 2011 Google said there had been over 3 billion Android apps installed.
Only devices that comply with Google's compatibility requirements are allowed to preinstall Google's closed-source Android Market app and access the Market. The Market filters the list of applications presented by the Market app to those that are compatible with the user's device, and developers may restrict their applications to particular carriers or countries for business reasons. 
Google announced the Android Market on 28 August 2008, and it was available to users on 22 October 2008. Support for paid applications was available from 13 February 2009 for US and UK developers, with additional support from 29 countries on 30 September 2010. In February 2011, the Android Market was made fully accessible on the web, allowing users to browse and pick up applications using their PCs, send them to their mobile phone and make comments on them. All this functionality was previously accessible only from mobile phone devices.
Users can install apps directly using APK files, or from alternative app markets. Unlike Apple, Google allows independent app stores to operate for Android.
 Google applications
Google has also participated in the Android Market by offering several applications for its services. These applications include Google Voice for the Google Voice service, Sky Map for watching stars, Finance for their finance service, Maps Editor for their MyMaps service, Places Directory for their Local Search, Google Goggles that searches by image, Gesture Search for using finger-written letters and numbers to search the contents of the phone, Google Translate, Google Shopper, Listen for podcasts and My Tracks, a jogging application.
In August 2010, Google launched "Voice Actions for Android," which allows users to search, write messages, and initiate calls by voice.
 Software development
Applications are usually developed in the Java language using the Android Software Development Kit, but other development tools are available, including a Native Development Kit for applications or extensions in C or C++, and Google App Inventor, a visual environment for novice programmers.
In March 2011, Google pulled 58 malicious apps from the Android Market, but not before the 58 apps were downloaded to around 260,000 devices. These apps were malicious applications in the Android Market which contained trojans hidden in pirated versions of legitimate apps. The malware (called DroidDream) exploited a bug which was present in versions of Android older than 2.2.2. Android device manufacturers and carriers work in tandem to distribute Android based updates and had not uniformly issued patches to their customers for the DroidDream exploit, leaving users vulnerable. Google said the exploit allowed the apps to gather device specific information, as well as personal information. The exploit also allowed the apps to download additional code that could be run on the device. Within days, Google remotely wiped the apps from infected users and rolled out an update that would negate the exploits that allowed the apps to view information. They also announced that they would be resolving the issue to ensure that events like this did not occur again. Security firms such as AVG Technologies and Symantec have released antivirus software for Android devices.
In August 2010, an SMS Trojan called Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.FakePlayer.a infected a number of mobile devices, according to security firm Kaspersky Lab. Disguised as a harmless media player application, the trojan, once installed sends out SMS text messages without the users knowledge or consent. According to Denis Maslennikov, Senior Malware Researcher at Kaspersky Lab, there's not an exact number of infected devices available at present, but the outbreak is currently regional. For now, only Russian Android users can actually lose money after installing the Trojan, but anyone can be infected. Android users were advised not to use the Android web browser until Google issues a security patch. The Android Security Team responded and developed a fix on February 5 and patched Open Source Android two days later.
 Privacy concerns
It is reported that Google uses Android smartphone to report the location of Wi-Fi access points it encounter as phone users move around to build vast databases containing physical location of hundreds million of such access points. These databases form electronic maps to locate smartphones, allowing them to run apps like FourSquare and companies like Google to deliver location-based ads.
In 2010, Google had to admit vehicles it used to gather photographs for its Street View service had scooped up data from unsecured home and business Wi-Fi networks in the U.S. and other countries. According to a company executive, Google's decision to stop using Street View vehicles to map Wi-Fi networks after the privacy breach had made smartphone data all the more crucial to its location database. The company had used Street View vehicles and phone data to map Wi-Fi access points since 2007, and by 2010, it had logged the location of more than 300 million of them, enabling the company to pinpoint a smartphone user with an accuracy of within 98 feet. Location data is collected through Android phones when users give permission "[a]llow[ing] Google's location service to collect anonymous location data. Collection will occur even when no applications are running" when a new phone is set up.
Android Green is the color of the Android Robot that represents the Android operating system. The print color is PMS 376C and the RGB color value in hexadecimal is #A4C639, as specified by the Android Brand Guidelines. The custom typeface of Android is called Norad. It is only used in the text logo.
Research company Canalys estimated in Q2 2009 that Android had a 2.8% share of worldwide smartphone shipments. By Q4 2010 this had grown to 33% of the market, becoming the top-selling smartphone platform. This estimate includes the Tapas and OMS variants of Android.
In February 2010 ComScore said the Android platform had 9.0% of the U.S. smartphone market, as measured by current mobile subscribers. This figure was up from an earlier estimate of 5.2% in November 2009. By the end of Q3 2010 Android's U.S. market share had grown to 21.4 percent.
In May 2010, Android's first quarter U.S. sales surpassed that of the rival iPhone platform. According to a report by the NPD group, Android achieved 25% smartphone sales in the US market, up 8% from the December quarter. In the second quarter, Apple's iOS was up by 11%, indicating that Android is taking market share mainly from RIM, and still has to compete with heavy consumer demand for new competitor offerings. Furthermore, analysts pointed to advantages that Android has as a multi-channel, multi-carrier OS, which allowed it to duplicate the quick success of Microsoft's Windows Mobile.
In early October 2010, Google added 20 countries to its list of approved submitters. By mid-October, purchasing apps will be available in a total of 32 countries. For a complete list of countries that are allowed to sell apps and those able to buy them see Android Market.
Data collected during two weeks ending on May 2, 2011
|Android Honeycomb 3.0||11||0.3%|
|Android Gingerbread 2.3.3||10||3.0%|
|Android Gingerbread 2.3||9||1.0%|
|Android Froyo 2.2.x||8||65.9%|
|Android Eclair 2.0.x/2.1.x||7||24.5%|
|Android Donut 1.6||4||3.0%|
|Android Cupcake 1.5||3||2.3%|
 Linux compatibility
Android's kernel is derived from Linux but has included architecture changes by Google outside the typical Linux kernel development cycle. Android does not have a native X Window System nor does it support the full set of standard GNU libraries, and this makes it difficult to port existing GNU/Linux applications or libraries to Android. However, support for the X Window System is possible. Google no longer maintains the code they previously contributed to the Linux kernel as part of their Android effort, creating a separate version or fork of Linux. This was due to a disagreement about new features Google felt were necessary (some related to security of mobile applications). The code which is no longer maintained was deleted in January 2010 from the Linux codebase.
Google announced in April 2010 that they will hire two employees to work with the Linux kernel community.
However, as of May 2011, points of contention still exist between Google and the Linux kernel team: Google tried to push upstream some Android-specific power management code in 2009, which is still rejected today.
Furthermore, Greg Kroah-Hartman, the current Linux kernel maintainer for the -stable branch, said in December 2010 that he was concerned that Google was no longer trying to get their code changes included in mainstream Linux. Some Google Android developers hinted that "the Android team was getting fed up with the process," because they were a small team and had more urgent work to do on Android.
 Claimed infringement of copyrights and patents
On 12 August 2010, Oracle, owner of Java since it acquired Sun Microsystems in April 2009, sued Google over claimed infringement of copyrights and patents. The lawsuit claims that, "In developing Android, Google knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle's Java-related intellectual property."
Specifically the patent infringement claim references seven patents including United States Patent No. 5,966,702, entitled "Method And Apparatus For Preprocessing And Packaging Class Files," and United States Patent No. 6,910,205, entitled "Interpreting Functions Utilizing A Hybrid Of Virtual And Native Machine Instructions." It also references United States Patent No. RE38,104, ("the '104 patent") entitled “Method And Apparatus For Resolving Data References In Generated Code” authored by James Gosling, best known as the father of the Java programming language, and currently a Google employee.
In response Google submitted multiple lines of defense, saying that Android did not infringe on Oracle's patents or copyright, that Oracle's 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.
The Free Software Foundation has called this suit a "clear attack against someone's freedom to use, share, modify, and redistribute software." However, the FSF also criticized Google, saying that Google could have avoided the suit by building Android on top of IcedTea, whose GPL license provides some protection against patents, instead of implementing it independently under the Apache License. The FSF wrote "It's sad to see that Google apparently shunned those protections in order to make proprietary software development easier on Android." and remarked that Google had not taken any clear position or action against software patents.
 See also
- Android Market
- Android version history
- Chromium OS
- Google Chrome OS
- List of Android devices
- List of Android OS-related topics
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- ^ [Updated] Google Acknowledges DroidDream: Remotely Wiping Apps, Removing Exploit, Making Changes To Prevent It From Happening Again | Android News, Reviews, Apps, Games, P...
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|Wikinews has related news: Google Android smartphone sales triple in the UK this year|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Android (operating system)|
- Official website
- Sergey Brin introduces the Android platform on YouTube
- Android: Building a Mobile Platform to Change the Industry — lecture given by Google Mobile Platforms Manager, Richard Miner at Stanford University (video archive).
- Android (operating system) at the Open Directory Project