Android Tablets – Hardware Components and the Software Stack
Android tablets are tablet computers that run the Android operating system, which is owned by Google. This operating system is similar to the operating system used on Android smartphones. While Google is responsible for the Android operating system, there are actually many different companies which produce the hardware (tablet) which runs the Android software. Android tablets are very thin and very small, they have touch screens which allow users to navigate with their fingers, and they do not need external devices (such as a keyboard or mouse) plugged into them in order to operate. Since Android tablets are produced by a variety of manufacturers, the hardware components within the tablets differ. They typically have the following:
- A processor
- Memory chips
- An internal storage chip
- A battery
- A sound processor and speakers
- A graphics processor
- Sensors, such as accelerometers, for touch screen capabilities
- An antenna for Wi-Fi internet and/or a mobile network A camera
- A Bluetooth chip
All Android tablets are built around the same foundation of layers. Each layer is well-defined and stacked in such a way that they sit upon each other, so to speak. The stack begins with the hardware directly at the bottom, made up of physical components, such as the hardware components mentioned above. Above this stack is the kernel, also called firmware, which is made up of software that instructs the Android device on how to interpret changes. Above this layer is Java Virtual Machine, which are libraries needed to create a virtual operating environment. The next layer is where the application framework is. This framework is the foundation for all the applications on an Android tablet. Finally, the elements at the top layer of the stack include the software which the user sees when using the tablet, also known as the user interface and all the apps.
Android tablets come in all shapes and sizes. Presently, the most popular Android tablet is the Google Nexus 7. Released in 2013, this tablet has an impressive battery life, an upgraded CPU, updated GPU, and one of the best screens available on the market. Another popular Android tablet is the Sony Xperia, which is waterproof and very lightweight. Three other popular Android tablets in the market today include Google's Nexus 10, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0, and the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity.