What is Android?

The Android operating system powers millions of phones and tablets

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Android is an operating system (OS) owned by Google, used in smartphones and tablet PCs. For those of you who are novices to the computer world, an operating system is the first and main software that is installed on your computer, mobile phone or any electronic device. It controls all the operations, other software and hardware of your computer.

In the traditional sense, Android means a robot that has human shape, hence the small green robot on the Android OS logo.

But in current use, Android is a Linux-based operating system that is now the most-used among mobile operating systems. In fact, when you say Android today, nearly everyone thinks of the mobile OS rather than the original definition.

What Makes Android so Popular?

We have been using mobile phones for decades and – most of us without knowing – have been running mobile operating systems on our machines. Apple’s iOS that powers the iPhone has changed the way smartphones look and work; Android as a competitor has brought this demarcation further.

Android includes all the goodies you can have in a modern and sophisticated smartphone, including full multimedia, connectivity, user-friendliness with touchscreen support, multi-tasking etc. But what makes the biggest difference between it and iOS is that it is fully open to any developer who wants to make an app for it.

This makes it possible for just everyone, expert or not, to develop applications for Android phones.

As a result, an Android user can download and install great applications for free from the Android Market, which offers tens of thousands of apps.

Unlike Apple’s iOS, Android powers devices that are built by many different manufacturers worldwide, Samsung and HTC being the leaders. This grows the Android community worldwide, causing the devices to fit into all spheres of activity, into all global and local markets, also fitting most budgets.

If you want an iPhone, you need to pay the price and use only Apple phones. It's typically pricey as a result. On the other hand, you have both cheap low-end and expensive high-end phones running Android so you get to use the OS even with limited hardware features much less expensively.

Android Version

When you download an app from the Android Market, or when you ask yourself whether your favorite app is supported, one consideration is important: the Android version. Throughout the versions, features have been added and improvements made. The operating system is quite competitive with iOS; video, voice activation and response, touchscreens and more are commonplace.

The most used version today is 7.0 or higher. 

Google Play Apps

If you own an Android phone or tablet, you will find the Google Play Store one of the most interesting places to go. It's got thousands of apps, most of which are free to download and install. Others are priced very low.

The apps are for all areas of activity, starting from the most useful productivity tools to the silliest games and time-wasters, passing all the way through widgets, tweaks, viewers, managers and more.

Each app carries its rating, which is a good indication as to its safety and worth.

You also have plenty of user reviews, along with a lot of useful information on the app itself, including the number of downloads and popularity.

Making Free Phone Calls on Android

Thanks to VoIP, you can make free calls to your contacts around the world through you computer or mobile device. Android makes this even more easy and interesting. To make free or cheap local and international VoIP calls on your Android device, you need to have Internet connection with decent bandwidth, either through a 3G or 4G data plan or a Wi-Fi hotspot, and you need to install a VoIP app from the Android Market.

Android Features

Android OS has many features, among which are the following:

  • Enhanced interface with the array of icons on the menu. Android adapts to high quality 2D and 3D graphics, with multi-touch support.
  • Android supports multitasking, i.e. many applications can run at the same time, like in a computer. This is not possible with simple mobile phones and many other smartphones.
  • All means of connectivity are support : GSM, 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS etc.
  • Android supports many languages, including those with right-to-left text.
  • Multimedia messaging system (MMS) is supported.
  • Java runs great on Android. Applications for Android are developed in Java, but instead of a Java Runtime Environment, Android uses the Dalvik Executer, which is lighter on resources.
  • Android supports most voice and video media formats, including streaming media.
  • Additional hardware like sensors, gaming devices, other touchscreens can be integrated in Android.
  • Voice and Video over IP. VoIP has many benefits, and Android manages cameras and has embedded support for seamless use of VoIP for free and cheap calls.
  • Tethering is possible, which is the ability to use the Android device as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot.