Android, a product of Open Handset Alliance (OHA) is a complete package of software for mobile devices. It is comprised of an operating system, middleware and mobile applications. The android operating system runs on open Linux kernel. It contains a set of APIs (Application Programming Interface) and libraries that gives users enormous facility to innovate new applications, for example: a developer can combine information from the web with data on an individual’s mobile phone — such as the user’s contacts, calendar, or geographic location. A developer can build an application that enables users to view the location of their friends and be alerted when they are in the vicinity giving them a chance to connect.
Android provides a software development kit (SDK) which is constituted of debugger, libraries, a handset emulator (based on QEMU), documentation, sample code, and tutorials.
Key features of an Android operating system:
Handset Layout>: The platform is adaptable to VGA, 2D graphics library, 3D graphics library based on OpenGL ES 1.0 specifications, and traditional Smartphone layouts.
Storage: The Database Software SQLite is used for data storage purposes
Connectivity: Android supports connectivity technologies including GSM/EDGE, CDMA, EV-DO, UMTS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
Messaging: SMS and MMS are available forms of messaging including threaded text messaging.
Web browser: The web browser available in Android is based on the open-source WebKit application framework.
Media support: Android supports the following audio/video/still media formats: MPEG-4, H.264, MP3, AAC, MIDI, OGG, AMR, JPEG, PNG, GIF.
Additional hardware support: Android can utilize video/still cameras, touch screens, GPS, accelerometers, magnetometers, accelerated 2D (with hardware orientation, scaling, and pixel format conversion) and accelerated 3D graphics.
Development environment: Includes a device emulator, tools for debugging, memory and performance profiling, a plug-in for the Eclipse IDE.
Market: The Android Market is a store house of applications that can be downloaded and installed .Originally only freeware applications were supported. Paid-for applications have been available on the Android Market in the United States since 19 February 2009.
Multi-touch: Android has native support for multi-touch but the feature is disabled at the kernel level. An unofficial mod has been developed that enables multi-touch, but requires superuser access to the device to flash an unsigned kernel.
Evolution of Android:
Way back, on November 5, 2007 a consortium of companies(whose count is 47 now) comprising of Broadcom Corporation, Google, HTC, Intel, LG, Marvell Technology Group, Motorola, Nvidia, Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, and Texas Instruments came into existence, coinciding with the release of their first product ‘Android’ with ARM Holdings Plc, Atheros Communications, Asustek Computer Inc, Garmin Ltd, Softbank, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba Corp, and Vodafone Group joining later. The latest entry in OHA is Acer.
Android is available as an entirely open source since October 21, 2008. Despite of the fact that it is an open source product, there are few developments happening in the product in a private development branch named ‘Cupcake’ (Its a read-only mirror branch for public view). This development activity will result in changes in download manager, the framework, Bluetooth, the system software, radio and telephony, developer tools, the build system and several applications, as well as a number of bug fixes.
On 30th April, 2009 another milestone was achieved with the release of 1.5 update for Android which led to following enhancements:
• Ability to record and watch videos with the camcorder mode
• Uploading videos to YouTube and pictures to Picasa directly from the phone
• A new soft keyboard with an “Autocomplete” feature
• Ability to automatically connect to a Bluetooth headset within a certain distance
• New widgets and folders that can populate the desktop
• Animations between screens
• Expanded ability of Copy and paste to include web pages.
Lets have some insight on devices already running
on Android and those which would be running on it soon. HTC dream, HTC Magic, Chinese company QIGI I6, Geeks phone ONE (first Spanish android phone) are the ones which are already using android. The mobiles which are coming soon with android are Samsung I7500, HTC Hero, HKC Imobile. Acer is expected to release Android for the Acer One netbook in Q3 2009. Chinese ODM Yuhua’s first
Android phone, the dual-SIM DSTL1 will be released in June.
Latest Buzz in the territory of android based device is the announcement of Android Native development kit version 1.0 which allows software or applications to run natively on the Linux layer below and the possibility of fennec (Firefox’s mobile version) to be a part of Android mobile OS.
With Android around we can customize our phones to our interests and has the capacity to incorporate almost all the technologies coming in future.
Already Report says Google Android to grow 900% in 2009. Keep watching …