Android is an operating system intended for mobile devices such as smart phones and tablet computers and more recently used in car other electronic devices such as media players, VOIP phones, Car dashboards and even refrigerators and Micro Waves. It is developed by the Open Handset Alliance led by Google.
In the beginning:
Before 2007, Android would have meant a completely different topic, a robot built in the image of humans.
Google purchased the initial developer of the software, Android Inc., in 2005. The Open handset alliance led by Google itself consisting of major tech companies was created to further the OS.
The first commercial product was the T-Mobile G1 smartphone manufactured by HTC. It was released October 2008 for T-mobile. It had the Android OS platform version 1.0. The OS lacked many of the refinements that the current day versions have. In fact the phone saw a major improvement in performance when it was updated with OS version 1.5 (Cupcake).
The 1.5 update brought in many enhancements like automatic screen orientation using the accelerometer and improved Bluetooth functionality.
The phone got mixed reviews. Cnet commented that the Phone was not really suitable for mainstream consumers and business users.
Android from then and now has evolved into a much refined platform for mobile devices. Due to the open source nature of the OS, It has been used as the OS of choice for various electronic instruments.
There have been many releases of the OS, some bringing incremental updates to functionality and stability and other like 3.x versions which were released for devices with huge screen sizes a.k.a tablets.
Below are the versions (source: Wikipedia)
2.0 Eclair included a new web browser, with a new user interface and support for HTML5 and the W3C Geolocation API. It also included an enhanced camera app with features like digital zoom, flash, color effects,
2.1 Eclair included support for voice controls throughout the entire OS. It also included a new launcher, with 5 home screens instead of 3, animated backgrounds, and a button to open the menu (instead of a slider). It also included a new weather app, and improved functionality in the Email and Phonebook apps.
2.3 Gingerbread refined the user interface, improved the soft keyboard and copy/paste features, SIP support (VoIP calls), and added support for Near Field Communication
3.0 Honeycomb was a tablet-oriented release which supports larger screen devices and introduces many new user interface features, and supports multi-core processors and hardware acceleration for graphics. The Honeycomb SDK has been released and the first device featuring this version, the Motorola Xoom tablet, went on sale in February 2011.
3.1 Honeycomb was announced at the 2011 Google I/O on 10 May 2011. One feature focuses on allowing Honeycomb devices to directly transfer content from USB devices.
3.2 Honeycomb released at July 15 2011, is "an incremental release that adds several new capabilities for users and developers". Highlights include optimization for a broader range of screen sizes; new "zoom-to-fill" screen compatibility mode; capability to load media files directly from the SD card; and an extended screen support API, providing developers with more precise control over the UI.
Current status :
As of JULY 2011, android was clocking 550,000 device activation's per day. At this rate, in a couple of years, the number of android phones can well be larger than the total population.
It could well be to the tune of 1,000,000 devices per day by the end of the year. There are now 99 Million android devices active.
More android phones are being sold than the number of iPhones now. Android being open source, it is the choice of the open source community and a lot a device manufacturers.
The tight integration of other popular Google services like search, Google maps, Navigation etc are added benefits for the consumer.
Android Apps Ecosystem:
The large number of android devices has ensured a large developer community for the Android platform. Android applications also called as apps SDK has enabled easy development of applications and publishing them to the android market.
As of July 2011, there are more than 250,000 applications in the Android market.
Free applications are mostly powered by the in app advertisements that provide sustenance for the multitude of developers.
As a result of this, there had been more than 6 Billion app installs from the market.
First-ever Android device; had quirky design elements like the swing-out keyboard
T-Mobile MyTouch 3G
First device with 1.5; debuted with Exchange support
First CDMA Android phone; offered HTC Sense interface
First Android handset with a slider design; lacked camera-editing options
Debut of MotoBlur interface; first Motorola Android phone
First Verizon Android device, and first appearance of Eclair
HTC Droid Eris
One of the earliest phones to offer pinch-to-zoom multitouch; first under $100 price point
Samsung Behold II
Used Samsung's TouchWiz interface and offered new media player; not upgradable past OS 1.6
HTC Nexus One
Sold unlocked through Google's direct sales channel; first Android 2.1 phone
First device that debuted with Donut; called the Droid's "little brother"
First AT&T Android phone; had awkward design with "Backtrack" feature on rear side
Motorola Cliq XT
Upgrade to the Cliq; replaced physical keyboard with virtual keyboard and Swype
HTC Droid Incredible
"Blazingly fast" processor and loaded feature set; won CNET's Editors' Choice Award
LG's Android debut in the United States; included LG Socialite app
HTC Evo 4G
First 4G phone in the United States; offers a mobile hot-spot feature and HDMI port
MyTouch 3G Slide
Update to original MyTouch 3G; featured T-Mobile's custom interface
Robust GPS integration; much improved over its G60 predecessor
Based on HD Mini design; like most AT&T Android phones, it didn't permit third-party app downloads
Motorola Droid X
Offered broad multimedia features and revamped MotoBlur interface
First Android device with iDEN, and first handset with a prepaid carrier
Part of the Samsung Galaxy S series; came with a full-length copy of "Avatar"
Second Galaxy S phone; AT&T's best Android offering to date
First Android device for U.S. Cellular; positioned as a budget model
Not compatible with Sprint's 4G network; positioned as a budget model
Motorola Droid 2
Similar to the Droid X but with a physical keyboard; first device to ship with Froyo
Samsung Epic 4G
Only Galaxy S phone to have physical keyboard; featured Samsung's TouchWiz 3.0 interface
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10
Sony Ericsson's first Android phone; featured company's Timescape feature and UXP interface
Based on the Nexus One design; second U.S. Cellular phone
First Android device for Sanyo/Kyocera and first for Cricket Wireless
Featured a square design with a roomy keybaord but a small, crowded display
Last Galaxy S series phone for "big four" carriers; features Bing search and maps
Dell's first Android phone, but that's about it
Update to original G1; first T-Mobile phone built for carrier's HSPA+ network
First handset with Sprint ID feature
First Android device for Sanyo/Kyocera; features Sprint ID
First Virgin Mobile Android phone
Square design with swivel opening
Entry-level device with bargain price
Part of the Galaxy S series; featured Samsung's TouchWiz 3.0 interface
T-Mobile MyTouch 4G
Next in MyTouch series; supports T-Mobile's HSPA+ network
LG Optimus T
First handset in LG's entry-level Optimus series
Rugged design; features revamped MotoBlur interface
LG Optimus S
Sprint's Optimus model; features Sprint ID
Motorola Droid Pro
Offers enhanced security features for business users and a mobile hot spot
Part of the Galaxy S series; features a second "ticker" display
Part of the Optimus series; features Bing search and maps
A beginner Android devices; features Bing search and maps
Includes DLNA support; features revamped MotoBlur interface
Slider design with physical keyboard; features revamped MotoBlur interface
Free with a two-year contract; available with prepaid plans
Motorola Droid 2 Global
Similar to Droid 2, but with world-roaming capabilities
Similar to Verizon's LG Ally; has a full physical keyboard
LG Optimus M
First Android device for MetroPCS; part of the Optimus series
LG Optimus U
Free with a two-year contract; part of the Optimus series
Samsung Nexus S
Follow-up to Nexus One; delivers stock Android interface; sold unlocked; first device with Gingerbread
HTC Evo Shift 4G
Follow-up to the HTC Evo 4G; compact design but includes a physical keyboard; cheaper than Sprint's previous 4G phones
Motorola Cliq 2
Update to the first Cliq; has a larger displayand a redesigned keyboard
LG Optimus V
Yet another model in the Optimus line; competitively priced without a contract
HTC Inspire 4G
Offers a mobile hot spot and an excellent 8-megapixel camera; runs on the carrier's HSPA+ network
Samsung Galaxy Indulge
Part of the Samsung Galaxy series; first Android phone for MetroPCS' LTE network
Samsung Galaxy S 4G
Update to Samsung Vibrant but with a larger battery; supports T-Mobile's HSPA+ network
Motorola Atrix 4G
Has a dual-core processor and support for the carrier's HSPA+ network; compatible with the Motorola Laptop Dock
Supports Verizon's 4G LTE network for incredible fast data speeds; can deliver simultaneous voice and data
Has two screens that can combine to form one 4.7-inch display
Budget device with a compact design
Samsung Sidekick 4G
Reinvents the Sidekick line with a familiar design and features; supports T-Mobile's HSPA+ network
Samsung Galaxy Prevail
Boost Mobile's second Android phone; minimal features in an agreeable design
CNET Editor's Choice winner; has a dual-core processor; HSPA+ support and a sharp display
HTC Droid Incredible 2
Update to Droid Incredible; offers world roaming
Samsung Droid Charge
A 4G LTE device with longer battery life than on the ThunderBolt.
Made from recycled and recyclable material.
Samsung Infuse 4G
Marketed as the thinnest smartphone available in the U.S.; supports AT&T's "4G" network.
Samsung Nexus S 4G
Sprint's version of the Nexus S adds WiMax support.
Another model in the Optimus line, the Phoenix is an entry-level device.
The Thrive is identical to the Phoenix, though it's available only through AT&T's prepaid service.
Motorola Droid X2
Features a qHD display and a dual-core processor for faster performance.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play
As Sony's long-awaited "PlayStation phone," the Xperia Play integrates a phone and a gaming device.
Includes a SIM card slot for international roaming; has a bulky design.
LG Revolution VS910
Verizon's third LTE device has a great display and a 1GHz processor. Uses Bing instead of Google.
HTC Sensation 4G
CNET Editors' Choice winner; offers a loaded feature set and excellent performance.
You'll find a physical keyboard, but only entry-level features.
HTC Evo 3D
Upgrade to the HTC Evo; features a glasses-free 3D display and can capture 3D photos and video.
Like the Droid Pro, it has a physical keyboard and enterprise-level security features.
Samsung Gravity Smart
An update to the Gravity T, it offers a physical keyboard and a slider design.
Samsung Dart T499
The definition of an entry-level smartphone, the Dart is free with service.
LG Genesis US760
Based on the LG EnV series, the Genesis flips open to expose a full keyboard.
The "Facebook phone" is hampered by a tiny landscape-oriented screen.
T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide
Sports an 8-megapixel camera with impressive multimedia performance.
Motorola Droid 3
Despite an improved keyboard, Gingerbread, a dual-core processor, and a better camera, it's not worth the upgrade.
Runs on the iDEN network; supports Nextel's Direct Connect, but lacks 3G.
With high-end features and zippy performance, it's Virgin Mobile's best Android phones to date.
Motorola Photon 4G
Sprint's answer to the Moto Atrix, the Photon 4G offers just about every feature you'd want plus support for a number of accessories.
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