Android – The World's Most Popular Operating System

Android, the world's most popular operating systems today, is an extremely powerful Linux-based operating system, including key applications and middleware, engineered by Google and designed primarily for Android devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and tablet computers. Android Inc. was founded in 2003 by Andy Rubin, Rich Miner, Nick Sears, and Chris White, and later acquired by Google in 2005. In 2007, Android was unveiled by Google, and the first Android-powered phones were on the market by 2008.

Android is an open source operating system. This means that the original source code for the software is made freely available and can be redistributed and modified. Google's Android is maintained by approximately 80 companies, developers, and enthusiasts who contribute toward further development of newer, updated versions of the operating system. Being open source allows the Android operating system to be modified in order to become more compatible with a multitude of devices, while also allowing for increased innovation along the way. In addition, manufacturers can modify the Android operating system and add their own unique features in order differentiate their devices from their competitors'.


All of the Android operating system versions, aside from Version 1.1 which was released before the first Android mobile device went to market, have been named after desserts. One of the notable things the first mobile Android operating system could do, Version 1.5 - Cupcake, was allowing for users to upload videos to YouTube and pictures to Picasa. As the years passed and Android became increasingly popular, enhancements were made to the operating system. In late 2009, Android's Version 2.0 - Éclair included HTML5 file support, Microsoft Exchange Server, and Bluetooth 2.1 support. In 2010, Android's Version 2.3 - Gingerbread included 4k resolution support, system-level support for geofencing, Wi-Fi scanning APIs, and Bluetooth Remote Control Profile support. In 2011, Android's Version 4.0 - Ice Cream Sandwich introduced an integrated screenshot capture, a customizable launcher, a built-in photo editor, and Wi-Fi Direct. In 2012, Android's Version 4.1 - Jelly Bean had a smoother user interface, enhanced accessibility, offline voice dictation, and expandable notifications. Android's newest version, Version 4.4 KitKat, has yet to be released. Google is working in collaboration with Nestle and Hershey in order to develop the operating system, and some expected features include public API for developing and managing text messaging clients and the ability to specify a default SMS app.

The Android operating system comes with Google Play (also known as Play Store, and formerly known as Android Market), a digital application distribution platform which is developed and maintained by Google. This is a place where users can select and download applications, games, books, and widgets designed for the Android operating system. All the applications written for Android are written in Java. Once installed on a device, each application is isolated in its own security and has access to only the components it requires to run. Each application is run with a specific set of permissions so that it cannot access other parts of the system. In order for this to take place, all Android applications must adhere to the following:

  • Each application must be a different user.
  • The system sets permissions for all the files in the application so that only the user ID (a unique Linux user ID assigned by the system to the application) assigned to that application can access such permissions.
  • An application's code must run in isolation from other applications.
  • Each application must run its own Linux process.

Due to the fact that the Android operating system is highly-customizable in nature, it is used in other electronic devices beyond smartphones. Today, Android can be found on tablets, laptops, netbooks, cameras, eBook readers, smart TVs, DVD players, satellite navigation systems, portable media players, game consoles, wristwatches, headphones, and even smart glasses. As of March 2013, the Android operating system exists on more than 60% of all smartphones alone. Without a doubt, the Android operating system plays a huge role in the software side of modern technology, and its possibilities for the future seem endless.