Today we begin the 'Android for Beginners' series. This is the first in a set of courses that ensure you know everything about Android. This introductory course will focus on the origins of Android and give you a list of the key terms you need to know before you start learning more.
What is Android?
Android is software for mobile phones, tablets and a growing range of devices encompassing everything from wearable computing to in-car entertainment. It launched in 2003 and is the world’s most popular mobile operating system (OS).
Android is an open source project (led by Google but it doesn't belong to them) called AOSP (Android Open Source Project). Google uses this project as a base to create its version of Android, which is then used by the other manufacturers.
As an OS, Android's job is to act as a translator between you and your gadget. When you take a photo, Android provides the button you tap and tells the phone what to do when you tap it. When you make or receive a call, Android tells your phone how to do that. When you play a game, Android tells the game what movements you’re making and what buttons you’re pressing. It’s like Windows, but for mobile devices.
The Android software itself is developed in conjunction with Google, who releases major updates to the platform every year. Manufacturers which run Android on their phones include Samsung, Huawei, Sony, Lenovo, HTC, LG and many others; it's currently operational on more than one billion devices.
The Android mascot is a green robot: you might have seen it around.
Where does Android come from?
It comes from Google, who actually acquired Android in 2005 (no, Google didn't invent it). The search giant performs regular updates along with an annual major update.
The operating system is based on the Linux kernel – if you have friends who work in IT, you may have heard of it. This is the GNU / Linux operating system based structure, which is a unix type system (portable operating system, multitasking and multi-user). The Linux kernel is one of the most prominent examples of free software.
What is the difference between Android and iPhone?
It’s not so much a difference between Android and iPhone but Android and iOS. You see, iOS is the software which runs on iPhones and the differences between this and Android are simultaneously big and small.
Smartphones with Android or iOS installed are capable of doing most of the same things: they can both run apps, connect to Wi-Fi, take photos, send messages etc. But there are many differences in how they look and feel, and the possibilities of both.
- You can read more about how the latest versions of iOS and Android compare here.
Why does Android look different on each phone?
Android doesn't look different on every device, but it does have a number of different versions. Android is open-source, which means that manufacturers are free to customize the software and make it their own.
The 'purest' version of Android is often referred to as 'stock Android' and it's often preferred by the Android community: it's the original software as Google intended.
Other user interfaces (UI) include Samsung's TouchWiz, Sony's Xperia, and Huawei's Emotion. See what they all look like in our Android UI comparison.
What are the advantages of Android?
Choice. For example, if you want iOS, you have a choice of iPhone, iPhone or iPhone. If you go for Android there are stacks of great devices to choose from, from cheap and cheerful handsets to really impressive flagships. Those flagships are often cheaper than the equivalent Apple devices, too.
Android’s choice isn’t just about hardware. It’s about everything else too. Android is incredibly easy to customize, both in terms of how it looks and how it works, and the various app stores aren’t as tightly controlled as its rivals’ stores, like Apple.
What’s with the candy names?
Each new version of Android gets a code name based on consecutive letters of the alphabet. The most recent version is known as Marshmallow because it is the Android M release. Previous versions have included Lollipop, KitKat, Jelly Bean and Gingerbread.
What’s the best thing about Android?
Options, many options. With Android you have hundreds of gadgets at your disposal, the cheapest, the most expensive and innovative market. Android is also incredibly customizable, both in their roles, as in his appearance. You can really make a unique mobile experience for yourself with this OS.
What’s the worst thing about Android?
Getting updates. In many cases manufacturers don’t seem to care about providing software updates for devices they’ve already sold you. Even when they do provide updates they take their sweet time about it. That’s why some consider rooting: you can download the updates yourself and apply them instead of waiting for the manufacturer to get around to it.
What is Google Play / Play Store?
The Google Play Store is a digital marketplace where Android users can purchase apps, games, books, movies, music and more. And it's a big advantage to owning an Android device.
The purchased content is connected to your Google account – something you must have in order to make these purchases – and is available on any device where you log in with your Google account.
- Google Play tips and tricks every Android user needs to know
- Google Play not working? Here's what you can do
Here are some Android terms you should know
Here is a glossary of terms you can refer back to as you continue in our series. Have a read through them right now to get a brief overview. Click on one in the table to jump to the term.
|Application||Firmware||Open Source||Soft Reset|
ADB: Stands for Android Debug Bridge, a tool that is used primarily by developers to send commands from a computer to Android. It works as a client-server and gives you tools for the devices for debugging.
Little by little we will be improving our knowledge of these and other Android terms and concepts. Stay tuned for the next episode of our 'Android for Beginners' series.
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