All About Google Android: CIO Definitions and Resources

Trying to keep track of the many flavors of Google's Android mobile operating system (and its related terms and jargon) can be a challenge. To help you sort out Android, here are the basics you need to know about the Linux-based platform.

Google Android

To help you better understand what the Google Android mobile operating system is all about CIO.com has put together a brief historical overview of the technology as well as additional resources to learn more about Android.

To jump to Android resources, articles and reference guides click here.

To jump to the list of Android terms and phrases click here.

What Is Google Android?

The Android platform is Google's free and open software stack (a set of programs that work together) for mobile devices. It includes the operating system, middleware and applications. Android runs on top of a standard Linux kernel, and Google releases the code under the Apache License. Because it is an open platform the code is freely available for others to view and edit.

A Brief History of the Android Mobile Operating System

Initially, the Android operating system was developed by Android Inc., a company founded in 2003 and acquired by Google Inc., in 2005. After the acquisition, in 2007 the Open Handset Alliance, a group of technology and mobile companies with the goal of accelerating innovation in mobile technologies, was founded. The first project released under the Open Handset Alliance was Android.

The Android Operating System Explained

Android is the name of the actual mobile operating system, developed by Google Inc., that is a Linux-based mobile operating system (OS) that was designed for use on mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets and touchscreens.

Today, Android comes preinstalled on a large variety of different smartphones and tablets. On these devices, users can access a number of other Google services, including Gmail, Google Maps and YouTube. By creating a Google account Android users can log into Google Play (the name of Google's own app store) to download apps.

Android Versions

Updated versions of the Android mobile operating system, starting in 2009, are released under dessert-themed names, starting with "Android Cupcake." The following list is all the individual Android releases to date:

• Android 1.0 (2008)

• Android 1.1 (2009)

• Android 1.5 Cupcake (2009)

• Android 1.6 Donut (2009)

• Android 2.0 Éclair (2009)

• Android 2.2 Froyo (2010)

• Android 2.3 Gingerbread (2010)

• Android 3.0 Honeycomb (2011)

• Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (2011)

• Android 4.1 Jelly Bean (2012)

• Android 4.2 Jelly Bean (2012)

• Android 4.3 Jelly Bean (2013)

Who Makes Android Devices?

Android is an open-source OS, so just about anyone who wants to can use the software. Many different device and handset manufacturers make customized brands of Android phones and tablets. For example, companies including Acer, Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola, Samsung and others have all released devices with Google's Android operating system installed.

Google   Android devices
Examples of Android mobile devices .

Google Android For Developers

For developers, the Android SDK (software development kit) provides the tools and APIs necessary to develop custom applications. These Android applications use the Java programming language and offer a full Java IDE (integrated development environment) with advanced features for developing, debugging, and packaging Android apps.

Google Play is an open marketplace for developers to sell and distribute Android apps. App developers can distribute broadly to all markets and devices or focus on developing apps for specific segments, devices or a range of hardware capabilities.

Android Market Share

Android competes against other mobile device operating systems including Apple iOS, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Symbian. In April, 2013, comScore reported that as of February, Android had 51.7 percent U.S. market share, ahead of Apple at 38.9 percent. BlackBerry ranked third with 5.4 percent share, followed by Microsoft (3.2 percent) and Symbian (0.5 percent).

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