If you do not know what a smartphone is, then please do read on. Now a smartphone may be loosely defined as any phone, which offers many more advanced features and connectivity options than most of the phones of its era. These phones are sometimes compared to personal handheld computing devices. Software developers are also provided with an ideal platform to work on since these phones function around an operating system. They pack powerful processors and huge memories. The category comprised of smartphones has witnessed the highest growth in sales in recent memory.
Now that you know what smartphones are, you must have come to realize that they run an operating system much like your personal computer.
Android is the mobile operating system released by Google after the company acquired Android, Inc. It has now been purchased by the Open Handset Alliance. The word Android literally translates to something which has a biological foundation and closely mimics a human being. The basis for Android is formed by the ARM architecture. ARM stands for Advanced RISC Machine or Acorn RISC Machine with both being used interchangeably. There are other ARM architecture based mobile phone operating systems with which Android competes. Some of these operating systems Microsoft are's Windows Mobile and Windows Phone, Apples proprietary iOS and the oldest mobile operating system, the Symbian platform. Any phone that uses an Android operating system is an Android smartphone. These are manufactured by a myriad of well known mobile phone manufacturing companies. Also many cellular service providers seamlessly integrate these devices in their networks.
From a technological point of view, Android consists of-
1. An operating system
3. Key application
Android Smartphone's uses a version of the Linux kernel that has been modified to serve the mobile environment. Hence it is open source. The Android operating system was first released on 21 October 2008. Since then, various updates have been seen. These updates have mostly taken care of security issue or have added new features. The fourth and latest version of Android is version 2.2. It is also known as Froyo. It has been based on Linux Kernel 2.6.32. The next version, nicknamed Gingerbread is slated for release in the last quarter of 2010. Android smartphones usually have the following features-
• A large variety of handset layouts.
• SQLite is used for the structured storage of data.
• Connectivity options such as Bluetooth, WI-Fi, GSM, EDGE, 3G, etc are available.
• Support for multi-touch has been incorporated in the OS.
• Additional hardware devices like cameras, GPS, touch-screens, etc are supported.
• A fully functional web-browser is provided.
• Various applications such as calendar, maps, email client, etc are provided in the box. However you could download and install many other applications and install them. These apps may be free or paid.
• Android provides a healthy developer environment. It contains various tools for debugging as well as a device emulator.
• Prices of android smartphones are usually less than smartphones having similar hardware specs but a different operating system.
Android smartphones, in their short lifespan have already made a huge impact. These phones are only expected to pack better features and be cost effective.