Introduction to Android: history, characteristics and success factors
Android is a mobile operating system based on a modified version of Linux. It was originally developed by a small company, the Android Inc , but in 2005 Google has bought the rights to make the basic system on which to work his development team in order to provide a reference solution for the market, then in the launch phase, the mobile devices (smartphones and tablets).
Google has decided to release Android in ways open source , meaning that anyone who wants to use this system can do so by downloading the entire source code. However, hardware manufacturers can modify some features of the system in order to differentiate their products from those of others creating, in effect, the “Customized” Android “tuned” versions on the characteristics of its products.
This simple model of development has made it very attractive Android in the eyes of some businesses, especially those who have suffered from the success of ‘ iPhone of Apple . Many companies for years now, have developed proprietary operating systems, but after the release of the iPhone have found themselves struggling to compete with it and have seen Android as a solution to this problem. In practice, these companies have continued to produce their own hardware devices, but have begun to use as the Android operating system, giving rise to the enormous success of this OS.
Created to provide an answer to the smartphone market, Android devices today are of different shapes and sizes and include, in addition to tablets and smartphones, e-readers, netbooks, MP4 players, Internet TV and wearable devices.
The main advantage of Android, from the point of view of us developers, is that it provides a unified approach to application development: Developers need only develop for this system and their applications will be able to run on a variety of different devices, produced by various companies (including, for example, Samsung, LG, Huawei, Sony, etc.).
Different versions of Android
From the first version were released several updates of Android from version 1.1 through version 4.4 (KitKat) and reaching the current version 6.0.1 (Marshmallow), the operating system made in Google has made great strides, earning the trust of millions of users around the world and getting the most popular operating system supremacy on the planet.
As mentioned, the great success of this OS has mainly covered the world of smartphones, but there have been versions optimized for the tablet: in February 2011, in fact, Google released Android 3.0, an exclusive version for tablet equipped with the device support widescreen, a new user interface optimized for the tablet, an advanced multitasking, new features related to web browsers and especially the support for processors to multi-core (characteristics, later also introduced in Android 4.0 designs in the market smartphone).
Common Features of Android
Since Android is open source and is available free for manufacturers who want effettuarne customizations, there are no hardware or software pre-established. Indicatively Android supports the following features by default :
- Storage – Used SQLite, a lightweight relational database for storing and managing data.
- Connectivity – Provides support GSM / EDGE, IDEN, CDMA, EV-DO, UMTS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, WiMAX and LTE.
- Messaging – SMS and MMS are supported
- Web Browser – Provides support for several web browsers like Opera
- Multimedia – Provides support for popular formats, including MPEG-4, MP3, MIDI, WAV, JPEG, etc.
- Hardware – are supported accelerometer, camera, proximity sensor, digital compass, GPS and multi-touch screen
- Multitasking – E ‘supported multitasking applications
The levels of Android
Before delving into the Android operation it is interesting to look at the different levels of this operating system.
As we can see, the Android operating system is divided into five sections on four levels:
- Linux kernel – is the core on which the operating system. This level contains all of the low-level drivers for the various hardware components of an Android device.
- Libraries – libraries that contain all the code that provides the core functionality of the operating system. For example, the WebKit library provides functionality for web browsing through the browser on your device.
- Android runtime – the same level of the libraries, the runtime provides a set of core libraries that allow developers to deploy Android applications using the Java programming language. This section also includes the Dalvik virtual machine, which allows each application to be executed in its own process, with its own instance of the virtual machine.
- Application framework – Exposes the potential of the Android operating system to application developers so that they can use in their own applications.
- Applications – At the highest level there are applications, both those included in the device, which those installed later.
Factors of success of Android
One of the main factors that determine the success of a platform for mobile devices is the variety of applications that it provides to users. Since the end of 2008, Google has made available to the users’ Android Market (now Google Play ), a kind of “digital marketplace” through which users can install additional applications on their devices. In it are available as free apps and paid.
Another important aspect that has contributed to the success of this OS, is the presence of a large community of Android developers worldwide, which allows for easier solutions to potential problems that a developer can meet, contributing to Indeed, the proliferation of thousands of different applications and, consequently, the commercial success of the operating system as a whole.
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