World is contracting with the growth of mobile phone technology. As the number of users is increasing day by day, facilities are also increasing. Starting with simple regular handsets which were used just for making phone calls, mobiles have changed our lives and have become part of it. Now they are not used just for making calls but they have innumerable uses and can be used as a Camera , Music player, Tablet PC, T.V. , Web browser etc . And with the new technologies, new software and operating systems are required.
Fig. 1: An image Of Anaroid Logo/A Representational Image Of Android
What is Android
Operating Systems have developed a lot in last 15 years. Starting from black and white phones to recent smart phones or mini computers, mobile OS has come far away. Especially for smart phones, Mobile OS has greatly evolved from Palm OS in 1996 to Windows pocket PC in 2000 then to Blackberry OS and Android.
One of the most widely used mobile OS these days is ANDROID. Android is a software bunch comprising not only operating system but also middleware and key applications. Android Inc was founded in Palo Alto of California, U.S. by Andy Rubin, Rich miner, Nick sears and Chris White in 2003. Later Android Inc. was acquired by Google in 2005. After original release there have been number of updates in the original version of Android.
Fig. 2: Flow Chart Showing Various Updates In Original Version of Android
Features & Specifications
Android is a powerful Operating System supporting a large number of applications in Smart Phones. These applications make life more comfortable and advanced for the users. Hardwares that support Android are mainly based on ARM architecture platform. Some of the current features and specifications of android are:
Fig. 3: Features And Specifications Of Android
Android comes with an Android market which is an online software store. It was developed by Google. It allows Android users to select, and download applications developed by third party developers and use them. There are around 2.0 lack+ games, application and widgets available on the market for users.
Android applications are written in java programming language. Android is available as open source for developers to develop applications which can be further used for selling in android market. There are around 200000 applications developed for android with over 3 billion+ downloads. Android relies on Linux version 2.6 for core system services such as security, memory management, process management, network stack, and driver model. For software development, Android provides Android SDK (Software development kit). Read more about open source software.
These are the basics of Android applications:
• Android applications are composed of one or more application components (activities, services, content providers, and broadcast receivers)
• Each component performs a different role in the overall application behavior, and each one can be activated individually (even by other applications)
• The manifest file must declare all components in the application and should also declare all application requirements, such as the minimum version of Android required and any hardware configurations required
• Non-code application resources (images, strings, layout files, etc.) should include alternatives for different device configurations (such as different strings for different languages)
Google, for software development and application development, had launched two competitions ADC1 and ADC2 for the most innovative applications for Android. It offered prizes of USD 10 million combined in ADC1 and 2. ADC1 was launched in January 2008 and ADC 2 was launched in May 2009. These competitions helped Google a lot in making Android better, more user friendly, advanced and interactive.
Other Mobile OSs
There are different other Mobile operating systems also present in market in competition with Android. Apple’s iOS and Windows Phone give strong competition to Android. A simple comparison between features and specifications of latest version of Android and other Operating Systems can be seen in the table given below.
Fig. 4: Various Mobile Operating System Available In Markets
According to Canalys, In Q2 2009 Android had 2.8% market share which had grown to 33% market share by Q4 2010 which made Android leader of smart phone OSs worldwide. The market share for commonly used mobile OSs is shown in the following pie chart.
Fig. 5: Diagram Showing Market Share For Commonly Used Mobile OSs
A large no of mobile companies are using Android. A list of companies supporting Android in their hardware is:
· Acer Inc
· ALCATEL ( TCL corporation )
· Bluelans Communications
· NCE casio Mobile Communications
· Cherry Mobile
· Geeks Phone
· General Mobile
· High screen
· HTC coroporation
· Sony Ericsson
Android is still updating. The recent version of Android (Honey comb 3.1) has very advanced features and updated applications which are optimized for use on larger screen devices. These applications are mentioned below:
Browser: Android’s new version includes a number of new features for simple, fast and convenient browsing with the Quick UI controls. It also supports popular web standards like CSS 3D, Animations and CSS fixed positioning to all sites, mobile or desktop. It also supports playback of HTML5 video content. To make it better and convenient to manage favorite content, users can now save a web page locally for offline viewing, including all styling and images.
A clip of new browser
Fig. 6: Android Latest Version Honey Comb 3.1
Gallery: Now the new gallery supports PTP (Picture Transfer Protocol) so that users can directly connect their cameras with Android device and transfer pictures with a single touch.
Calendar: Calendar grids are larger, for better readability and more accurate touch-targeting. Additionally, users can create a larger viewing area for grids by hiding the calendar list controls. Controls in the date picker are redesigned, making them easier to see and use.
Contacts: The Contacts app now lets you locate contacts more easily using full text search. Search returns matching results from all fields that are stored for a contact.
Email: When replying or forwarding an HTML message, The Email app now sends both plain text and HTML bodies as a multi-part mime message. This ensures that the message will be formatted properly for all recipients. Folder prefixes for IMAP accounts are now easier to define and manage. To conserve battery power and minimize cell data usage, the application now prefetches email from the server only when the device is connected to a Wi-Fi access point.
An updated Home screen widget give users quick access to more email. Users can touch Email icon at the top of the widget to cycle through labels such as Inbox, Unread, and Starred. The widget itself is now resizable, both horizontally and vertically.
Enterprise support: Users can now configure an HTTP proxy for each connected Wi-Fi access point. This lets administrators work with users to set a proxy hostname, port, and any bypass sub domains. This proxy configuration is automatically used by the Browser when the Wi-Fi access point is connected, and may optionally be used by other apps. The proxy and IP configuration is now backed up and restored across system updates and resets.
For developers, Android’s new version has extended possibilities with new capabilities that developers can build on to create new and powerful applications for tablets and smart phones. Some of the new features for developers are:
• Open Accessory API for rich interaction with peripherals
• USB Host API
• Input from mice , Joystick and game pad
• Resizable home screen widgets
• MTP(Media transfer protocol) ATI for integrating with external cameras
• Real Time Transport – protocol (RTP) ATI for control over audio streaming sessions.
With all these new features Android 3.1 is making life more comfortable and advanced. Now with advanced browser, gallery, calendar, USB support, new hardwares supporting this OS are pretty convenient.
Cell phones have really evolved earlier features like camera and music player but now latest hardwares not only support such features but advanced use of such features as well as Bar code scanner, text scanner etc which has made life better and simpler and Android has played an instrumental role in this evolution with thousands of applications available in Android market and open chance for developers to make it more advanced and better. In a way Android has changed its users’ life completely.