Android is a touchscreen mobile operating system based on a modified version of the Linux kernel and other open source software, built primarily for smartphones and tablets. Google commercially sponsors Android, which is created by a group of developers known as the Open Handset Alliance. The first commercial Android smartphone was released in September 2008, after it was announced in November 2007.
It is free and open source software, with the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) as its source code, which is mostly licensed under the Apache License. Most Android devices, however, come pre-installed with extra proprietary software, the most notable of which being Google Mobile Services (GMS), which comprises key programs like Google Chrome, the digital distribution network Google Play, and the accompanying Google Play Services development platform. Around 70% of Android smartphones use Google’s ecosystem; other Android ecosystems and forks include Amazon’s Fire OS and LineageOS. The “Android” name and logo, on the other hand, are trademarks of Google, which imposes regulations that prevent “uncertified” devices from using the Android branding outside of its ecosystem.
The source code has been used to create Android versions for a variety of different devices, including gaming consoles, digital cameras, portable media players, PCs, and other devices, each with its own user interface. Android TV for televisions and Wear OS for wearables, both created by Google, are two well-known versions. On Android, software packages in the APK format are often distributed through proprietary app stores such as Google Play Store, Samsung Galaxy Store, Huawei AppGallery, Cafe Bazaar, and GetJar, as well as open source platforms such as Aptoide or F-Droid.
Since 2011, Android has been the most popular smartphone and tablet operating system in the world. It has over two billion monthly active users as of May 2017, the highest installed base of any operating system, and the Google Play Store has over three million apps as of January 2021. Android 11 is the most recent stable version, which was released on September 8, 2020.
Android’s default user interface is mostly built on direct manipulation, with on-screen items being manipulated using touch inputs that closely approximate to real-world motions such as swiping, tapping, pinching, and reverse pinching, as well as a virtual keyboard. Bluetooth or USB compatibility is available for game controllers and full-size physical keyboards. The device’s reaction to human interaction is supposed to be instantaneous, with a fluid touch interface that frequently uses the device’s vibration capabilities to deliver haptic feedback to the user. Some applications use internal hardware like accelerometers, gyroscopes, and proximity sensors to respond to additional user actions, such as adjusting the screen from portrait to landscape depending on how the device is oriented, or allowing the user to steer a vehicle in a racing game by rotating the device, simulating steering wheel control.
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