Android is the name of the mobile operating system owned by American company, Google. It most commonly comes installed on a variety of smartphones and tablets from a host of manufacturers offering users access to Google’s own services like Search, YouTube, Maps, Gmail and more. This means you can easily look for information on the web, watch videos, search for directions and write emails on your phone, just as you would on your computer, but there’s more to Android than these simple examples.
Android is a mobile operating system developed by Google. It is used by several smartphones and tablets. Examples include the Sony Xperia, the Samsung Galaxy, and the Google Nexus One. The Android operating system (OS) is based on the Linux kernel. Unlike Apple's iOS, Android is open source, meaning developers can modify and customize the OS for each phone. Therefore, different Android-based phones often have different graphical user interfaces GUIs even though they use the same OS.
Android phones typically come with several built-in applications and also support third-party programs. Developers can create programs for Android using the free Android software developer kit (SDK). Android programs are written in Java and run through a Java virtual machine JVM that is optimized for mobile devices. The "Dalvik" JVM was used through Android 4.4 and was replaced by Android Runtime or "ART" in Android 5.0. Users can download and install Android apps from Google Play and other locations.
If you are unsure what operating system your phone or tablet uses, you can view the system information by selecting "About" in the Settings menu. This is also a good way to check if your device meets an app's system requirements. The name "Android" comes from the term android, which is robot designed to look and act like a human. Android was developed by Google and the Open Handset Alliance (OHA), a coalition of hardware, software and telecommunications companies. More than 30 companies were involved in the OHA, including Qualcomm, Broadcom, HTC, Intel, Samsung, Motorola, Sprint, Texas Instruments and Japanese wireless carriers KDDI and NTT DoCoMo.
If you fit into this category then have no fear; this article is your complete guide to understanding what Android is, what it can do and where to find it, including the best Android mobile phones, Android apps, which games you can play on Android devices, the very best features you can enjoy and how to update to the latest version.
Android phones are highly customisable and as such can be altered to suit your tastes and needs; with wallpapers, themes and launchers which completely change the look of your device's interface. You can download applications to do all sorts of things like check your Facebook and Twitter feeds, manage your bank account, order pizza and play games. You can plan events from your phone's calendar and see them on your computer or browse websites on your desktop Mac or PC and pick them up on your phone.
Another neat feature of Android is that it automatically backs up your contacts for you. When you set up an Android phone you’ll need to create a Google Account or sign in with an existing one. Every time you save a number to the address book of your Android phone it will be synced to your Google Account.
The benefit of this is that if you lose your phone all of your numbers will be saved. The next time you get an Android phone (or an iPhone or Windows Phone if you prefer) and sign in with your Google Account, all of your contacts and friend's numbers will be displayed in your new phone’s address book immediately, no need to transfer or back them up anywhere else.
There are millions of apps and games available to download from the Google Play store (formerly Android Market). There are camera apps that allow you to take pictures with artistic effects and music players which allow you to stream songs from the web or create playlists. You can customise the appearance of your Android handset with a number of wallpapers based on pictures you’ve taken yourself or downloaded from the internet too.
There are also various on-screen widgets to download which allow access to, and the alteration of, settings on your phone, without the need to dive through menus as you would on non-Android devices. You can pretty much create your own system of shortcuts and menus to better suit how you uniquely use your phone.
The majority of apps can be downloaded from the Google Play store (the equivalent of Apple’s App Store), which includes a mix of free as well as 'premium' apps that you have to pay for. Some apps have ‘lite’ versions which are free, in the hopes you’ll enjoy them enough to upgrade to the full premium version. Others - like Pokémon GO - are free, but include adverts or the ability to make in-app purchases.
The same account that lets you backup your contacts can also have financial details added to it, giving you the ability to purchase content from the Google Play store directly. You can pay either by debit or credit card and initial setup takes less than five minutes from a computer.
Although there are well over a million apps available to Android users in the Google Play store, some developers choose to make their apps available to download from their own sites or alternative app stores. In order to download them, you have to change some settings on your phone before visiting these sites on your Android device's web browser. By downloading apps outside of the Google Play store, you do run the risk of attack in the form of data theft or by leaving yourself more susceptible to viruses, so be careful if you choose this route.
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