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Lesson i – Introduction to Android: History, Features, Versions.

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In this lesson: Introduction to Android, I’m gonna guild you through the History of Android as an OS, Evolution of Android versions, Features/characteristics of Android Android Architecture levels, and Success Factors of Android.

History of Android – Introduction to Android App Development

Android is an operating system for mobile devices based on a modified version of Linux. It was originally developed by a small company, Android Inc, but in 2005 Google bought the right to make it the basic system on which to make its development teamwork in order to provide a reference solution for the market.

android - coding180

Google has decided to release Android in open-source mode, which means 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 by creating, in fact, “customized” versions of Android “calibrated” on the characteristics of their products.

This simple model of development has made Android very attractive in the eyes of some businesses, especially those who have suffered from the success of ‘ iPhone of Apple. Many companies have developed proprietary operating systems for years, but after the release of the iPhone, they found it difficult to compete with it and saw Android as a solution to this problem. In practice, these companies have continued to produce their own hardware devices but have begun to use Android as their operating system, creating the enormous success of this OS.

In addition to smartphones and tablets, it has established itself in various sectors as technological evolution has offered it the chance. In fact, there are more platforms aimed at different devices: 

Wear OS for wearables,

 Android TV for smart televisions,

Android for Cars (Android Auto) for the realization of apps integrated with cars,

 Android Things dedicated to the IoT (Internet of Things), up to the possibility to distribute Android apps on Chrome OS systems like Chromebooks.

It was attributed – and probably rightly so – to the fastest spread mobile operating system. But what are the factors of this success and above all why is this happening to Android? The hypothesized reasons are varied and of various nature. Much of the credit has been given to its strong roots in the open-source world.

The main advantage of Android, from the point of view of us developers, is that it offers a unified approach to application development: developers only need to develop for this system and their applications will be able to run on a variety of different devices, produced by various companies (for example, Samsung, LG, Huawei, Sony, etc.).

Topic: Lesson 1 – Introduction to Android: History, Features, Versions, Success Factors.

Evolution of Android Versions – Introduction to Android

From the first version, several Android updates have been released: from version 1.1, passing through version 4.4 (KitKat) and coming to the current version 10.0 (Android Q). Google’s operating system has made great strides, earning the trust of millions of users in the world and obtaining the record of the most widespread operating system on the planet.

android api level Android Apis levels

As said, the great success of this OS has mainly concerned the smartphone world, however, there have been many optimized versions for tablets: in February 2011, in fact, Google released Android 3.0, an exclusive version for tablets with support for devices widescreen, a new user interface optimized for tablets, advanced multitasking, new features related to the web browser and above all support for multi-core processors (features, later introduced in Android 4.0 smartphone).

Common Features/Characteristics of Android

Since Android is open source and is available for free for producers who want to customize them, there are no pre-set hardware or software configurations. Generally Android supports the following default features:

  • Storage – SQLite is used, a light relational database for data storage and management.
  • Connectivity – GSM / EDGE, IDEN, CDMA, EV-DO, UMTS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, LTE, and WiMAX are supported.
  • Messaging – SMS, and MMS are supported
  • Web browser – Various web browsers such as Opera are supported
  • Multimedia – The most popular formats are supported, including MPEG-4, MP3, MIDI, WAV, JPEG, etc.
  • Hardware – Accelerometer, camera, proximity sensor, digital compass, GPS and multitouch screen are supported
  • Multitasking – Application multitasking is supported

Topic: Lesson 1 – Introduction to Android: History, Features, Versions, Success Factors.

Android levels – Android App Development

Before delving deep into Android Ecosystem, It is interesting to take a look at the various components that made the entire Android Architecture.

android levels - coding180

As we can see, the Android operating system is divided into five sections in four levels:

  • Linux kernel – This is the core on which the operating system is based. This level contains all the low-level drivers for the various hardware components of an Android device.
  • Libraries – Libraries that contain all the code that provides the main features of the operating system. For example, the WebKit library provides functionality for web browsing through the device browser.
  • Android runtime – At the same level as libraries, the runtime provides a set of basic libraries that allow developers to implement 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 – It exposes the potential of the Android operating system to application developers so that they can use them in their own applications.
  • Applications – At the highest level there are applications, both those included in the device, and those installed later.

Android Success Factors – Android App Development

One of the main factors that determine the success of a mobile device platform is the variety of applications it makes available to users. Starting from the end of 2008, Google has made available to users the Android Market (now Google Play ), a sort of “digital market” through which users can install additional applications on their devices. In it are available both free and paid applications.

Another important aspect that has contributed to determining the success of this OS is the presence of a large community of Android developers all over the world, which makes it easier to find solutions to possible problems that a developer may encounter, contributing to fact, to the proliferation of thousands of different applications and, consequently, to the commercial success of the operating system as a whole.


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