|What is Android?|
|Android 101 - Android Basics|
|Written by Mark|
|Sunday, 03 January 2010 16:25|
Android is Google's entry into the mobile operating system realm. It is a very extensible system that provides as much user configuration as possible. The operating system itself runs on a lightweight linux kernel, and is open source. This combination allows for simple development and extendability to the operating system using the Java development language.
Due to the open source licensing, hardware vendors are able to modify the operating system to add their own extensions and customize Android for use on their specific devices. This is why the Hero and Eris are able to have 7 panels within the home screen, along with other Sprint-only applications and widgets. In addition vendors are also able to put the operating system on devices for no cost which helps to speed the adoption of Android devices to the market.
The Android OS contains the following Features (from the Android Developers Guide)
Application framework enabling reuse and replacement of components
-This is what allows applications from the Market place to plugin to the system and provide increased functionality. For example, Panda Home, can replace your home screen.
Integrated browser based on the open source WebKit engine
-The built in browser is able to recognize web addresses within the phone and route them appropriately, whether to the youtube application, email or to the web.
Optimized graphics powered by a custom 2D graphics library; 3D graphics based on OpenGL ES 1.0 specification (hardware acceleration optional)
-This allows for the rich 2D and 3D graphics support that we can see with games on Android
SQLite for structured data storage
-This is how data is stored on your device individually for each application, the compartmentalization of the operating system allows for some data sharing but it is meant to prevent applications from retrieving the data of other applications.
Media Support for common audio, video, and still image formats
-Pictures, Audio, and video support within Android
Bluetooth, EDGE, 3G and WiFi (hardware dependent)
-These are the communication mechanisms available for your device. The big one here is the 3g support, however we will eventually see more functionality available through the WiFi with things like Google Voice.
Camera, GPS, compass and accelerometer (hardware dependent)
-The devices typically have a camera which can support video and still imaging. A GPS device which can triangulate your position (when enabled), a compass which can provide direction and an accelerometer which can detect physical orientation of the phone.
-Android allows for an integrated Market application which allows you to download applications over the air without the need for a physical computer.
The version of Android which is on a device is dependent upon the hardware provider, due to the open sourcing licensing above. Currently the latest is version 2.1 which is only on the Google Nexus One phone.
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