Android was founded in 2003 with an original target market of digital cameras. Android Inc. was acquired by Google in 2005. The deal included bringing on three of the four original owners.
Under Google’s ownership, Andy Rubin (one of the original Android owners) led the team that developed a Linux kernel driven mobile device platform that was upgradeable. The T-Mobile G1 was the first commercial smartphone running the Android operating system, marketed in 2008. Google then introduced the Nexus series of devices using the Android software in 2010, and replaced Nexus in 2016 with Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones.
Today the Android mobile operating system is used on touchscreen applications in smartphones and tablets, in Wear OS, Android Auto, Android TV, and in software iterations on game consoles, PC’s and other electronics.
Android’s user interface largely requires direct manipulation, such as a touch screen, QWERTY board, or virtual keyboard. It’s also associated with proprietary software as well as core apps such as Gmail, Google Search, the app store, and digital distribution.
Since 2011, the Android operating system has been the best selling worldwide for smartphones and as of 2013 for tablets. There are over 3.5 millions apps available via the Google Play store.
Apps written using the Android software development kit extending the functionality of devices often use Java programming language, sometimes combined with C/C++. The software development kit includes libraries, a debugger, sample code, documentation, a handset emulator (based on QEMU) and tutorials. However, in 2017 Google announced app development support in Kotlin programming language.
Android products are developed by Google until their release, at which point the Android Open Source Project, an initiative led by Google and mainly licensed under Apache, is provided the source code. Although the base operating system source code is publicly released, users are required to license the Android name from Google under individual contracts. A significant amount of proprietary software is also associated with most Android devices, such as Google Search, Google Play Store, and Google Mobile Services; these proprietary applications must also be licensed directly from Google.
- A very recognizable symbol of the Android mobile operating system is their giant green mascot, an Android robot. It doesn’t have an official name but the Google team tongue-in-cheek refer to it as “Bugroid”.
- Each major release of Android is named in alphabetical order after sugary treats or desserts. The most recent release was Android 8.0 named “Oreo” released in 2017. In May 2018, Google released an Oreo tracker update, but it’s not widely available as of yet.
- According to Google, there are over 2 billion monthly users.
- Based on a StatCounter report in 2017, Android outdistanced Microsoft Windows for total internet usage as the most popular operating system.