You might think you know Android inside and out, but there's always a few secrets hidden under rocks, lost in history or that have otherwise escaped people's attention. Think you're a die-hard Android fan? Read on to find out a few Android secrets that you might not already know about...
1. Android was not built for smartphones
Not many people know this, but Android was actually designed as a platform for digital cameras. Fortunately, the founders, including Andy Rubin (who, incidentally, was nicknamed 'Android' when he worked at Apple in the late 80s and used the domain android.com as his personal website until 2008), recognized the potential of the emerging smartphone market and wanted to challenge Windows Mobile and Symbian.
2. Google was seed-funded by the NSA and CIA
Put on your tinfoil hats kids, this one's a little cloak-and-dagger. According to some conspiracy theorists, Google was actually seed-funded by the CIA and NSA as part of their 'information superiority' programs. The program was designed to incubate promising start-ups that could be used by the US government and military intelligence to ensure their technological superiority in future.
Whether you buy into the claim that the Pentagon is secretly pulling the strings at Google or that Sergey and Larry have a red phone that goes straight to the director of the FBI, there are a lot of interesting and sometimes frightening connections between Google and the American intelligence community, which pre-date PRISM by a long way. Android is deeply implicated in these theories as a personal tracker-beacon.
3. Android Marshmallow will remember everything
You know that under-appreciated setting for backing up your app data in Android's backup and reset menu? It's one of many things you probably breeze through without reading when you set up a new Android phone and never think about again.
The setting lets you back up all your app passwords, preferences, settings and data to Google's servers so that you don't have to re-enter them all the next time you switch phones. You'd have to have checked this option at start-up with previous Android versions, but Marshmallow will automatically back up the current state of all of your apps by default.
So once you've got your apps on Android Marshmallow, you'll have all your saved data on hand when you switch phones or reinstall an app in future.
4. Google doesn't get away with everything
Sometimes it may seem, especially to the conspiracy theorists, that Google is the all-knowing, all-powerful Oz that can get away with anything and ride rough-shod over all the little people. But there are still bigger fish out there capable of keeping Google in check.
Take Google's mobile application distribution agreement (MADA), the condition to which those that wish to use Android for “free” must agree. MADA basically forces manufacturers to include not just one, but the whole Google suite of apps if they wish to use the Android platform. Some choose to fork Android and live without Google, like Amazon, but most sign on the dotted line.
This may seem a fair price to pay, but not everyone agrees. The European Commission is investigating Google for antitrust violations with the MADA at the heart of the matter. The EC is claiming that the MADA excludes competition by unfairly forcing Google apps and services. That case is ongoing, but Russia has already found Google guilty in its own antitrust case.
5. You can make Google change Android
That's fine for the Supreme Court and European Commission, you might say, but what about the little guys? Funnily enough, when enough people get behind something, we can still dictate terms and get what we want out of Android, even when Google says nuh-uh.
Official support for microSD cards is a case in point. You may remember that with Android KitKat Google tried to kill microSD cards in Android. We all complained, developers figured out a way to get around it, and eventually Google started to waver in its convictions and with Lollipop even back-peddled a little.
But we kept demanding better support and now Android Marshmallow will bring official support for microSD expansion. This isn't your usual garden variety either: when you insert a microSD card in a Marshmallow device it will be treated just like internal storage. This is a huge win for microSD card fans and it just goes to show that when you stick together you can even make Google change Android.
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How many of these Android secrets did you know? Are there any we've missed? Let us know in the comments.