What Is Android?

Home & Family, Technology
on November 16, 2011

Operating systems are a key part of success in today’s fast-paced technological marketplace. The ability of particular devices such as smartphones to compete often depends on the functionality and power of the operating system. Android is an operating system that is owned by Google Inc., which purchased the original designer of the system in 2005. The Android operating system has powerful ramifications for an ever-growing smartphone market, especially considering that, according to the Pew Internet & American Life project, more than 35 percent of Americans now own smartphones.

The power of the smartphone. Android, along with Apple Inc.’s operating system, has allowed companies to make the smartphone a true portable computer. Though a smartphone doesn’t have the screen size of a tablet or a laptop computer, or the basic functionality of a computer with a full-sized keyboard, it can nonetheless allow users to perform a wide variety of tasks. The draw of the Android is that the software is theoretically open-source, which means that programmers can use it to generate an endless variety of functional apps.

Competition with Apple. The development of Android is also extremely significant because it represents serious competition for Apple, which has captured a great deal of smartphone business with the iPhone and the accompanying Apple OS. Given the appeal and marketability of the iPhone, it is conceivable that the iPhone could run away with the market with some competition. Android represents a different philosophy and a viable alternative to the Apple brand.

Open-source? Granted, there are some questions about whether Android is truly open-source. One study done by researcher Vision Mobile found the Android system to be one of the least accessible in terms of open-source programming. Of course, this goes beyond the knowledge of most consumers, who are mostly concerned with whether their devices can do the things that they want to do each day. Whether customers are loyal to Apple or an Android-based phone is one part of the discussion, but for now, Android is a serious contender in the world of smartphones and other Internet-based devices such as tablets.