Android is an operating system for mobile devices developed by Google LLC and based on the Linux kernel, to be considered properly an embedded Linux distribution and not a Unix-like system or a GNU / Linux distribution (since almost all GNU utilities are replaced by software in Java), designed primarily for embedded systems such as smartphones and tablets, with specialized user interfaces for televisions (Android TV), cars (Android Auto), wrist watches (Wear OS), glasses (Google Glass), and others.
Distributed under the terms of the Apache 2.0 free license, reserving the right not to include software covered by copyleft licenses, its development continues through the Android Open Source Project, which is free software with the exclusion of several non-free firmware included for device manufacturers and so-called “Google Apps”, such as Google Play. In April 2017, it is the most popular operating system for mobile devices in the world, with a market share of 62.94% of the total, followed by iOS with 33.9%; in the same month, it also surpasses the market share as the most used operating system to surf the net, effectively surpassing Windows which, until then, had the highest market share in the world.
In October 2003 Andy Rubin (co-founder of Danger), Rich Miner (co-founder of Danger and Wildfire Communications), Nick Sears (vice president of T-Mobile) and Chris White (main author of the GUI of Web TV), founded a company, Android Inc. for the development of what Rubin called “… cellular devices more aware of their owner’s location and preferences.”
The company initially operated secretly, revealing only that it was designing software for mobile devices. During the same year, the initial budget ran out, which was why a $ 10,000 loan from Steve Perlman (a close friend of Rubin) was essential to continue development. Steve Perlman handed Rubin the money in an envelope but refused any proposal to participate in the project.
On August 17, 2005, Google LLC acquired the company, in view of the fact that the Mountain View company wanted to enter the mobile phone market. It is in these years that the Rubin team begins to develop an operating system for mobile devices based on the Linux kernel. The official presentation of the “green robot” took place on November 5, 2007, by the newly formed OHA (Open Handset Alliance), a consortium of companies in the Hi-Tech sector that includes Google, smartphone manufacturers such as HTC and Samsung, mobile operators such as Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile, and microprocessor manufacturers such as Qualcomm and Texas Instruments Incorporated. The first Android-equipped device that was launched on the market was the HTC Dream on October 22, 2008.
Since 2008 there have been many updates to Android to improve its performance and to eliminate any security problems of previous versions.
The first mobile device equipped with the basic Android system is the T-Mobile G1, which was produced by the Taiwanese company HTC and marketed by the T-Mobile operator. The product was introduced on September 23, 2008, in New York, while the market release date was October 22, 2008. The main features of the device are QWERTY keyboard, 3.2 ” touch screen with 320 x 480 pixels support, 3G UMTS / HSDPA connectivity at 7.2Mb / Seconds, 192MB of RAM, and 256MB of flash memory.
The launch price was $ 179 in the U.S., with a commitment to sign a two-year contract with T-Mobile, the device initially distributed in the USA on October 22, 2008, and in the UK on the 30th of the same month. It is a device that has similar features to the features of the T-Mobile G1, although it is not equipped with a hardware keyboard; Samsung was later introduced to the Galaxy device with AMOLED screen, after which the Galaxy S was equipped with a camera without a flash, yet it was present in the back of the Galaxy S II.
In 2010, a new generation of Android smartphones was introduced and put on the market, which, driven by Nexus One, has superior technical features (1GHz processor and 512MB RAM). Among these, we find HTC Desire, Samsung Galaxy S, and LG Optimus Black.
On December 16, 2010, the successor to Nexus One was distributed: The Nexus S, which Samsung produced, is the first Android device to release the 2.3 version of the operating system, called Gingerbread.
According to the Wikimedia Foundation, Android OS is spread among all mobile devices by 22.94% (August 2011 update); In the last quarter of 2010, Android managed to beat Symbian, the undisputed Nokia operating system for more than 10 years, selling 32.9 million smartphones worldwide compared to 30.6 million Symbian phones. Android has grown by 615.1% year on year since 2008.
From version 1.5 to 9 each update or release, similar to what happens for many versions of Linux, has followed a precise alphabetical convention for names, which in this case are those of sweets: versions 1.0 and 1.1 do not have a sweet name and are identified by the version number only (however the second, during development, was unofficially named Petit Four, in homage to the homonymous sweets), the 1.5 was called Cupcake, the 1.6 Donut, the 2.1 Eclair, the 2.2 Froyo ( frozen yogurt), 2.3 Gingerbread (gingerbread), 3.0 Honeycomb, 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, 4.1 Jelly Bean, 4.4 Kit Kat following an agreement with Nestlé then 5.0 Lollipop. On October 5, 2015, it’s up to 6.0, with the name Marshmallow. For version 7.0 N, Google launches the possibility to let users choose the name of the next version, and Nutella appears among the possible names. On June 30, 2016, the name of the next version is officially announced which on August 22 is ready to appear on Android smartphones with the name of Nougat (nougat). Android 8.0 Oreo is released on August 22, 2017, with Mondelēz granting it. Android 9.0 Pie is released on August 6, 2018. On September 3, 2019, it was the turn of Android 10, known, in development, as Q.
In March 2013 Larry Page announces that Andy Rubin has left the Android presidency to devote himself to other Google projects. He is replaced by Sundar Pichai.