Android is a Linux-based operating system designed primarily for touch screen mobile devices such as smart phones and tablet computers. Initially developed by Android, Inc., which Google backed financially and later purchased in 2005, Android was unveiled in 2007 along with the founding of the Open Handset Alliance: a consortium of hardware, software, and telecommunication companies devoted to advancing open standards for mobile devices. The first Android-powered phone was sold in October 2008. Android powers hundreds of millions of mobile devices in more than 190 countries around the world. It's the largest installed base of any mobile platform and growing fast every day another million users power up their Android devices for the first time and start looking for apps, games, and other digital content.
Android gives you a world-class platform for creating apps and games for Android users everywhere, as well as an open marketplace for distributing to them instantly. Android is open source and Google releases the code under the Apache License. Android's user interface is based on direct manipulation using touch inputs that loosely correspond to real-world actions, like swiping, tapping, pinching and reverse pinching to manipulate on-screen objects.
Small, stylish, and versatile, modern mobile phones have become powerful tools that incorporate cameras, media players, GPS systems, and touch screens. As technology has evolved, mobile devices have become about more than simply making calls, but their software and development platforms have struggled to keep pace.
Android sits alongside a new wave of mobile operating systems designed for increasingly powerful mobile hardware. Windows Mobile and Apple iPhone now provide a richer, simplified development environment for mobile applications. However, unlike Android, they are built on proprietary operating systems that often prioritize native applications over those created by third parties and restrict communication among applications and native phone data. Android offers new possibilities for mobile applications by offering an open development environment built on an open source Linux kernel. Hardware access is available to all applications through a series of API libraries, and application interaction, while carefully controlled, is fully supported.
In Android, all applications have equal standing. Third-party and native Android applications are written using the same APIs and are executed on the same run time. Users can remove and replace any native application with a third-party developer alternative; even the dialer and home screens can be replaced.