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Android

In: Computers and Technology

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| AndroidMobile Operating System | Jamie Caves | 4/1/13 | COM156 | |

| AndroidMobile Operating System | Jamie Caves | 4/1/13 | COM156 | |

With over 400 million Android devices activated to date, it is by far the most popular mobile operating system in use today. The Android OS is one of the most used worldwide, and its open source permits unlimited customization by anyone with the desire to learn it and use it. I have done quite a bit of research on it in the past for my personal use and have learned just a small portion of just how open and customizable Android can be, whether it be personal customization or productivity of the software. Android has helped to change the way we work, socialize, and entertain ourselves. The majority of social media users now use their smartphones, with Android software and applications, to access and post to various sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram where people like to post what they are currently eating. Joking aside, Android has helped to push mobile technology farther than ever before.
The Android mobile operating system is currently the most widely used and the most popular for smartphones and tablets today. Android has a distinct advantage over its competition in that it is available on a myriad of devices from nearly all the smartphone and tablet manufacturers today like Samsung, LG, Motorola, HTC, and many others whereas their closest competitors Apple and Blackberry are limited to only one or two devices. Smartphones have replaced nearly all home and regular cell phones almost entirely and have enabled people to do almost anything they would be able to do on a pc while on the go anywhere. Tablets are subtly replacing laptops as a portable computer, with accessories like detachable keyboards, and are being used as a teaching device in many schools today. With Android having their software on most of these devices being used, from low end cheap devices for those on a budget, to high-end ultra-devices that can replace the need for a computer completely, it creates a high level of brand awareness and loyalty. Together smartphones and tablets, and the Android platform they run on, are changing the way we live and interact all across the globe. In order to keep Android at the top as the best software for your mobile device, Google is consistently upgrading and providing new uses. Developers work to push regular updates for any type of bugs or problems that Android may have either on its own or with a particular device. Google developers have been very good about listening to the community and users about what may be wrong, what is good, and what they would want to see in future versions of the software. The most interesting changes or updates are when the developers come out with a completely new version that totally revamps the software, such as the change from Android 2.4 Gingerbread to Android 4.0 Icecream Sandwich, that changed the whole user interface and added some very cool features like Google Now. That also brings up some of the fun with Android, the names that Google and the developers give to the different versions of Android. The list so far for the “code” names from inception to today are: cupcake, donut, éclair, froyo, gingerbread, honeycomb, icecream sandwich, jelly bean and the upcoming key lime. While Google has been releasing new version quite often, they always thoroughly test new versions along with the different device manufacturers before making a full release to the general public in order to cut down on any type of problems the software may contain. One of the best things about Android is the applications that can be added and used with it. Anything from getting your email to having a calendar that can sync across several devices to keep the whole family informed of important dates and reminders to launching birds at pigs. It has also created a whole new niche for gaming. Games like Angry Birds with well over 200 million downloads in its various versions, and the massively popular social game Words With Friends have turned everyone into “gamers”. Navigation and map applications can easily guide or show you any destination you are trying to find, and make it so much easier than trying to follow some hand written directions while driving. There are applications for almost anything you can think of: games, books, business, communication, education entertainment, finance, health, fitness, lifestyle, video, audio, medical, news, comics, magazines, photography, productivity, shopping, social, sports, software tools, transportation, travel, weather, and my favorite personalization. With all of the personalization applications and choices, you can easily change the look of almost everything about your phone to fit your liking and personality and are no longer stuck with having the same look as everyone else. In addition most applications come with a widget that can be placed right on the home screen which enables you to use some or even all of the applications functionality without having to go in and open the application directly.
Now, for what is the best feature about the Android OS, it is completely open source. What this means is that Google allows not only phone makers to write the software as they see fit for their devices and customers, but also anyone is allowed to use, rewrite, and make applications for the software. On top of that, Google even provides the tools necessary for you to do this, free of charge. Google allows for you to improve upon Android to your liking, or create your own version of it, called custom roms, to put on smartphones and tablets. This allows for anyone who may have a phone that will no longer have its software updated by the manufacturer to still get the latest version and features of the software. Now while this requires a little knowledge about how to manipulate the devices in order to change their factory settings, normally called rooting, it is something that can be easily researched and self-taught. When I had my second Android phone I started to hear about this and looked into it myself. Through some reading and research on various sites that I have come to trust like android.com and xda-developers.com, I was able to easily learn how to root and subsequently changed my Android to a user created version that made it faster, added some features and removed the “bloatware” the manufacturer installed. Bloatware is a term for the applications that come already installed on your phone or tablet that you may not want or use, but you are not given the option to remove until rooted. While rooting and replacing the software with a different version can be very easy, actually writing a new version or applications is a bit more in depth and requires some knowledge of writing software and code. That being said it gives those with the knowledge to better Android all around as the developers actually listen to what people are doing with it and use that for their own official releases. It also gives people the opportunity to create their own applications which they can release to the public on their own, or submit them to Google to be approved for release through Google on their Play Store, and a chance to share in any profits.
With the popularity of Android, and smart phones in generally, only increasing steadily it is easy to see that it will only get bigger and better. Androids regular updates, upgrades, and vast customization ability will help Google to ensure that their software will stay on top and that it is not going anywhere but up for the foreseeable future. Their smartest move of keeping Android completely open source will also keep it a favorite amongst our current technological adept generation and those who like to have complete control over their device and software. As someone that loves technology and seeing the newest advances in it, I look forward to seeing just how much more Android will introduce in the future and how they will further change the way we use our mobile devices.

REFERENCES
Android. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://android.com xda develpors. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://xda-developers.com
Yoon, H. (2012, April). A study on the performance of the Android platform . International Journal on Computer Science & Engineering, 4(4), 532-537.

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