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What is Google Android OS?

Updated on March 3, 2014
Google Android Open Sourced is a key factor underlying its development.
Google Android Open Sourced is a key factor underlying its development.

Google Android OS: World leading Mobile Operating System

The Google Android OS is a Linux based Operating System owned by Google Inc. As at the time of this review, Google Android OS is the World leading Mobile Operating System accounting for over 74% as at the fourth quarter of 2012 and still leading as at the time of this review , followed by the Apple iOS. Google Android as it is otherwise called is an open sourced Operating System which analysts on this subject see as the reason for its huge market success and also elicited its large community of Application developers.

Open sourced in this sense means developers and Original Equipment Manufacturers(OEM) are free to modify the Operating System to suit their preference which is not obtainable in some of its competitor’s platform like the Apple iOS .

Although Google Android is primarily designed for touched screen Smartphone and tablets, the Open Source nature has made it customisable to run on Laptops, TVs, Wrist watches, Google Glass etc. Companies like Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Barnes and Nobles, Amazon and more have made a great fortune with this Operating System. Samsung Galaxy S3 ( Android based Smartphone) from Samsung Electronics led the Smartphone Market as at the last quarter of 2012 and first and second quarter of 2013 with a number of awards. As at the end of 2013, Android based Smartphones led the market.

A brief History of Google Android OS

Android OS was initially developed by Android incorporated, put together by four co-founders namely: Andy Robin, Rich Miner, Nick Sears and Chris White, with Google only being a financial partner then. Android Incorporated was acquired by Google in the month of August, 2005.

After approximately three years, the first Google Android OS phone was released by HTC, called HTC Dream in October,2008 under the auspices and collaborating platform of the Open Handset Alliance, a consortium jointly set up by Some Original Equipment manufacturers like Samsung and HTC. Technology Companies like Google, Wireless carriers such as T-Mobile and Chipset manufacturers such as Qualcomm and Texas Instruments.

This Consortium was formed under the agreement to allow Open Standards for Mobile gadgets on which any of these collaborative efforts are driven. This is the underlying trust that guilds Google and its alliances and it have paid off. It was under this understanding that the first Google based device was launched.

Since then Google Android OS has undergone a number of developments and upgrades. The first commercial version in these series was Android version 1.0. Android have a peculiar way of nick naming its versions(code name). Each version is named alphabetically and after a delicious treat since 2009. The version 1.5 was nicknamed cupcake and Android 4.2.1 is nicknamed Jelly Bean.

Google was initially driven towards providing OS(Operating System) for Original equipment Manufacturers like HTC, Samsung, Motorola and Sony under the Apache License 2.0 until 2010 when Google in collaboration with hardware manufacturers commenced the production of Google Nexus series. Nexus one was released in January 2010 manufactured in collaboration with HTC Corporation. It was launched with Android Version 1.0

The Nexus series is Google flagship device with which it showcases latest developments in its Operating System before making the source code available to Developers and Hardware manufacturers.

Nexus 10 Tablet with Android Operating System
Nexus 10 Tablet with Android Operating System

Basic Features of Google Android OS

Let highlight and discuss features and peculiarities that distinguishes the Google Android. However this represents a summary that gives a vivid picture of the Android experience.

1. Open Sourced: Google Android Source Code is made available to Applications’ developers and Original Equipment Manufacturers through the Open Handset Alliance License. No restriction but Specifications standard has to be met. By implication third party applications are allowed with a lot of ease.

2. Multi-task touch screen technology: Android is based primarily on Multi-touch screen technology that is quick and fluid, a high ease of navigation by swiping from one application to the other effortlessly. Greater responsive interface as obtainable in Version 4.2. Jelly Bean.

The home screen displays applications and widgets which are highly customisable to suit individual developer needs. A number of applications can run concurrently on the screen interface just by minimising one to exit to another.

3. Upgradable User Interface: The entire OS gets upgraded within six to nine months and possibly twice in a year. This is the beauty of Android based devices being amenable to changes that add value to the user. This upgrade can be done over the air via Google play.

4. Security: High level of device and data encryption. Google Android employ the Sandbox in running its applications isolated from direct interaction from the rest of the system except with permission by Application developers. The essence of this if for scrutiny and forestalling a situation of malicious invasion.

5. Share and Customise User Interface: This a multi-user support application that can allocates spaces for different users allowing each user to have individual home screen, applications ,photos and more with each user having an interface customised to suit personal likings. Up to eight users can share the same tablet. A good example Google Nexus 10.

6. Google Now: This innovation received Popular Science award as the innovation of the year 2012 . Google Now just like Siri on Apple devices is an intelligent personal assistant that can give direction to places of interest like the best Restaurant in the city, favourite games score, time of special events, hotel reservations and bookings and more.

Google Now displays notifications in the form of Cards on the home screen (perhaps right time to check out of the Hotel room) and can translate a number of written languages.

7. Google Search: Gives in-depth searches with faster and precise results with a voiced feedback option if activated.

8. Google Play: A platform that showcases Android and developers prowess in applications for viewing and downloading such as music, e-book reader, games, videos, magazines, TV programs etc. This is also an avenue through which new upgrade in Android OS can be accessed.

9. Google+ Hangout: Make room for video chatting with friends and family members and the like of Nexus 10 can allow up to nine simultaneous video chatting with high display resolution.

10. Camera and Photo Editor: Photo Editor allows easy customisation of photos stylishly .Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) came with a superior camera application with better snap shots that is able to capture a wide angle objects with the ability to zoom and size objects as desired . Also able to access camera directly from the lock screen.

11. Google Chrome: Faster than ever in web browsing and high ease of navigation from one page to the other. Enjoy greater benefits by signing into Chrome and so you can access bookmarked pages, easily access sites opened with high confidence of internet security, read pages opened even when offline. This new development commenced with Google Android OS 4.2(Jelly Bean).

12. Google Earth: Take you on a tour to desire and favourite Cities with a clear 3D view, historic monuments, names of streets , Cities, events centres etc.

13. YouTube: Now have a better application interface with a faster and intuitive streaming of videos, TV channels, music etc.

14. Gmail: A direct interface for accessing your e-mail via the fastest e-mailing platform with easy readability. Photo Video messages can be sent via Gmail account with viewing at the receiving end clearer as it can be zoomed optimally with the latest Android OS.

15. Calendar: There is a great improvement in Calendar application with a better notification interface for upcoming events. You can now assign each event a colour and such colours will be displayed as a reminder on the home screen as time of such events approaches.

16. Android Beam: Android Beam makes possible Photo and Video sharing via Near Field Communication (NFC) Technology between compatible Android gadgets.

17. Accessibility: There is a Screen reader application via the gesture mode for those with impaired vision . The text traversal audibly read applications assisting to navigate through pages, words and characters.

Challenges of Google Android OS

The source of Google Android OS challenges is also the source of its greatest strength. Its flexibility and Open Sourced phenomenon create a very big platform, an expanse spectrum for showcasing its prowess among hardware manufacturers, Applications developers and its own Nexus series. This in a great deal put it ahead of its competitors.

However, this same phenomenon possesses a number of challenges. Because of this aforementioned flexibility, hardware manufacturers who uses the Google Android OS modifies it to suit their preferences therefore, you find different Android characteristics with different Carriers and manufacturers.

It is difficult and it takes longer time to upgrade such devices directly in line with any latest Google Android version apart from the Nexus series than runs the Android OS unmodified. As a result, some of these manufacturers in most cases will prefer to launch new gadgets with any new major upgrade or version of the Operating System. This step appears more profitable.

The second major challenge for Google Android OS is the tendency for Application Piracy which is also as a result of its high degree of flexibility. Some Application developers can bypass Google play and other highly regulated application store thereby parading substandard and pirated paid applications which they can achieve through third party Application store.

Malicious code designers can also take advantage of security flaws in sensitive partitions of the OS to install virus into devices that eventually go into the hands of unsuspecting public. This is further fuelled as most third party Android players lack after sales services.

Well, Google is aware of this and this informed the security measures it has further taken in as subsequent versions are released. With time Android Phones users will know which carrier or hardware manufacturers are more susceptible to this sort of manipulations as a result of over simplification and customisation of the Android OS in their devices.

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