by Vangie Beal

All About Google Android: CIO Definitions and Resources

Aug 28, 20139 mins

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 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).

Google Android

To return to the historical overview of the Android operating system click here.

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

Now that you understand what the Android mobile operating system is here are some related terms and phrases commonly associated with the mobile operating system technology.

10 More Android Terms and Phrases to Know

Android App

An Android app is a software application that’s designed to run on the Android platform. Android apps work on tablets and smartphones that use the Android mobile operating system, as well as other mobile platforms with Android Runtime Environments, including the BlackBerry 10 OS. Android apps are developed (developers can download the Android SDK/ADT bundle) and typically released on the Google Play store, Google’s open app marketplace, where users can download and install apps on their devices.

Android Codename

Android codenames (also called Android versions) are the release names given to updates and new versions of the Android operating system. These names have been released under dessert-themed names, in alphabetical order, starting with Android 1.5 Cupcake in 2009, and followed by Éclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean.

Android   4.2 Jelly Bean is the most recent release
Android 4.2 Jelly Bean is the most recent release .

Android Fragmentation

Android fragmentation is a phrase used to describe the concern that different iterations of Google’s Android platform will result in some devices not being able to run apps written with the Android SDK. Android fragmentation can also result in different users getting very different Android experiences, based on the software versions they use. Today there are multiple versions of the Android OS in use (e.g. Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0, Jelly Bean 4.1 & 4.2, Gingerbread 2.3 and so on). Additionally, device manufacturers also add customization which creates an additional version of Android.

Android fragmentation creates a challenge for wireless carriers, device makers and developers who need to create apps that will run on all the different variants of the Android OS and on the different mobile devices. (Check out this infographic for a visual representation of Android fragmentation.

Android SDK

For Android developers, the Android SDK (software development kit) provides the API libraries and developer tools required to build, test, and debug apps for Android. There are several different packages available for the Android SDK, including the SDK Tools, SDK Platform-Tools, the SDK Platform for each version of Android, Google APIs Google Play Billing, documentation and more.

Android ADT

For Android developers, the Android ADT (Android Development Tools) includes the essential Android SDK components and a version of the Eclipse IDE with built-in ADT to streamline Android app development.

Droid Phone

Droid is a slang term that’s sometimes used to mean any mobile phone that uses the Android operating system. However, Verizon Wireless and Motorola offer a family of Android smartphones, called DROIDS.

Google Play

Google Play, formerly known as the Android Market, is Google’s online store that provides access to all Google-facilitated content purchases. Developers can make Android apps available for users to download and install via Google Play and you can also access Google Books, music, movies, magazines and more.

Google Play is a cloud-based service, and some content you purchase is available for use on your mobile device and desktop. Google Play is preinstalled on most Android mobile devices, however any user with a Google account can use the service.

Android Widget

On Android devices a widget is used to customize the home screen. The widget provides quick access to important data and functionality of an Android app that is accessible right from the user’s home screen. For example, a weather widget provides updated information on the home screen so the user does not have to launch the weather application to see current weather information. Users can move Android widgets across the home screen and re-size the widget to customize the amount of information that is shown on the home screen.

[ 20 Excellent Android Lock Screen Widgets ]

[ The 15 Best Android Widgets ]

[ 11 Awesome Android Tablet Widgets ]

Android Rooting

Rooting is the process used to obtain “root access” on any device running the Android mobile operating system. It gives users access to the administrative commands and the functions of the operating system. Most users root an Android device to alter or replace manufacturer-specific applications and settings or to run an application that requires administrator-level permissions. Rooting is also an option for users who want to remove the Android mobile operating system and install a newer version of the OS or a customized OS, called a “custom ROM.” (Note: Rooting voids manufacturer warranties and can damage Android devices, so users interesting rooting their devices should proceed with caution.)


Nandroid is a full backup of the partitions on your Android device’s NAND flash. The backup does not include the contents of your device’s removable SD card, however it will include all user data and system files on the device. When creating a Nandroid, the backup will be created and stored on the device’s SD card. When rooting your Android phone, it is advised that you first create a Nandroid backup of the device.

Google Android

To return to the historical overview of the Android operating system click here.

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

The following CIO articles and Web resources will help you to better understand the Android mobile operating system and how the technology is used today.

Android Resources, Articles and Reference Guides

1. The Open Handset Alliance

The Open handset Alliance is a group of 84 technology and mobile companies who have come together to accelerate innovation in mobile and offer consumers a richer, less expensive, and better mobile experience.

2. Android for Developers

The Android for Developers website offers everything you need to develop Android apps, including design guidelines, developer training, API reference, and information about how you can distribute your app.

3. Android Apps for Task Management

Busy? Of course you are. Own an Android tablet? Then one of these 10 free task management apps will help you organize your business and professional lives.

4. Android Tips, tricks and Advice

The Android How To Guide offers software downloads and expert tips and tricks, device reviews, news and insider commentary to help master your Google Android device.

5. A Visual History of Android

This Brief History of Android is a visual history of Google’s Linux-based open source mobile platform Android.

6. Extend Your Android Battery Life

battery,   battery life, battery charge

Want to learn how to make your Google phone last longer? Extend your Android device’s battery life and do more on the go with these quick and easy tips, from’s mobile expert Al Sacco.

7. Android Security Apps

These 8 Essential Android Security Apps will help IT departments keep a better hold on employees’ Android-based devices.

8. Android Security: Six Tips to Protect Your Google Phone’s mobile maestro Al Sacco shares six tips and tricks–along with a free download–to help secure your Google smartphone and ensure your personal data remains protected.

9. Android Tablet Apps for IT Pros on the Go

If staying organized is difficult at your desk, it’s nearly impossible when you’re traveling. These 10 apps will help you manage your to-do list, keep tabs on the office and find your way to that lunch meeting.

10. Google Play Website

Shop Google Play on the Web. Google’s online store provides access to all Google- facilitated content purchases.

11. Faster Web browsing for Android Mobile Phone Users

Google’s Latest Android Browser Promises Faster Surfing: Faster Web browsing and lower data use might be in the cards for Android mobile phone users if they download a new version of the Chrome Web browser offered by Google.