Android Introduction: A Comprehensive Guide
Are you new to the world of Android? In this article, we’ll give you a complete Android introduction, including its origins, unique features, and capabilities.
Android is a popular mobile operating system developed by Google. It is based on the Linux kernel and is designed for smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Android has become one of the most widely used operating systems in the world, with millions of users worldwide.
History and Development of Android
Android was first introduced in 2007 by the Open Handset Alliance, a group of technology and mobile companies led by Google. The aim of the alliance was to create an open-source mobile operating system that would be accessible to all developers, regardless of their location or financial resources.
The first version of Android, Android 1.0, was released in September 2008. It was designed for use on smartphones, and it included basic features such as a web browser, email, and support for Google services such as Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Search. Since then, Android has undergone several major updates and has evolved into a robust and feature-rich operating system.
What Makes Android Stand Out?
Below table demonstrates the factors which make android stand out:
|Open-source nature||Android is an open-source operating system, which means it is freely available to use or modify.|
|Customization||Android is highly customizable, which means users can customize their devices.|
|Device availability||Android is available on a wide range of devices from various manufacturers.|
|User-friendly features||Android has several built-in features that make it more user-friendly. For example, Android has Google Assistant, a voice-activated digital assistant that helps users with various tasks.|
|Affordability||Android devices are available at a wide range of price points, making them accessible to a broad audience.|
|Security||Android has several built-in security features such as Google Play Protect, which scans apps for malware before downloading onto a device. Additionally, Android has regular security updates that protect devices from new threats.|
One of the most significant advantages of Android is its open-source nature. This means that developers can access the source code and modify it to create their own custom versions of Android. This has led to the development of many third-party custom ROMs (Read-Only Memory) that offer features not found in the standard Android release.
Another significant advantage of Android is its app ecosystem. The Google Play Store, which is the official app store for Android, offers a vast selection of apps and games that can be downloaded and installed on Android devices. As of September 2021, there were over 3 million apps available on the Google Play Store.
Android also supports a wide range of hardware, which means that it can be installed on a variety of devices, from low-end budget smartphones to high-end flagship devices. This flexibility has helped Android to become the dominant mobile operating system in the world, with over 72% of the global market share as of 2021.
The following table illustrates the complete features of Android:
|Customization||Android is highly customizable, which means that users can tailor their devices to their liking.|
|Resizable Widgets||Widgets on Android are resizable, allowing users to customize their home screen to their liking.|
|Multi-Language Support||Android supports both single-direction and bi-directional text, making it suitable for users who speak different languages.|
|Google Cloud Messaging||Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) is a service that enables developers to send short message data to their users on Android devices, without needing a proprietary sync solution.|
|Wi-Fi Direct||Android supports Wi-Fi Direct, a technology that enables apps to discover and pair directly over a high-bandwidth peer-to-peer connection.|
|User Interface||Android OS offers an attractive and user-friendly interface, making it easy for users to navigate through their devices.|
|Connectivity||Android supports various connectivity options, including GSM/EDGE, IDEN, CDMA, EV-DO, UMTS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, LTE, NFC, and WiMAX.|
|Data Storage||Android uses SQLite, a lightweight relational database, to store data, ensuring efficient and reliable data storage.|
|Media Support||Android offers support for a wide range of media formats, including H.263, H.264, MPEG-4 SP, AMR, AMR-WB, AAC, HE-AAC, AAC 5.1, MP3, MIDI, Ogg Vorbis, WAV, JPEG, PNG, GIF, and BMP.|
|Messaging||Android supports both SMS and MMS messaging, allowing users to communicate effectively.|
|Multi-Touch||Android has native support for multi-touch, enabling users to perform multiple actions simultaneously on their devices.|
|Multi-Tasking||Android’s multitasking capability allows users to switch between multiple applications and run them simultaneously.|
|Android Beam||Android Beam is a popular NFC-based technology that enables users to share information quickly and easily, just by touching two NFC-enabled phones together.|
|Notification Center||Android has a notification center that displays notifications from various apps in one place.|
|Security||Android has several built-in security features that help protect users’ devices from malware and other threats.|
Android applications are developed to run on the Android operating system, which is the most popular mobile operating system in the world. These applications are created using Java programming language and the Android Software Development Kit (SDK).
One of the benefits of developing Android applications is that they can be easily packaged and distributed through various app stores. These include Google Play, SlideME, Opera Mobile Store, Mobango, F-droid, and Amazon Appstore. These app stores provide a platform for developers to showcase their applications to millions of users worldwide.
Learning how to develop Android applications can be exciting and rewarding. By the end of this Android series, you will have a comprehensive understanding of how to create Android applications. You will be ready to showcase your skills by publishing your applications to the various app stores. With Android’s growing popularity, there has never been a better time to learn how to develop Android applications.
Android Application Categories
Based on their functionality and purpose, Android applications can be classified into several categories.
Here are some of the most common Android application categories:
|Utility Apps||These are the most basic and essential apps that every user needs. They include apps for file management, calculator, clock, flashlight, and battery monitoring.|
|Social Networking Apps||These apps help users connect with others and stay in touch. They include apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.|
|Entertainment Apps||These apps are designed to provide entertainment and fun. They include apps for music, movies, games, and books.|
|Productivity Apps||These apps help users increase productivity and efficiency. They include apps for note-taking, calendar, task management, and document editing.|
|Travel and Navigation Apps||These apps help users navigate and travel. They include apps for maps, GPS, and transportation booking.|
|Health and Fitness Apps||These apps are designed to help users improve their health and fitness. They include apps for diet tracking, workout planning, and meditation.|
|Education Apps||These apps help users learn and acquire various skills. They include language learning apps, educational games, and online courses.|
|Finance Apps||These apps help users manage their finances. They include apps for budgeting, expense tracking, and investment management.|
|News and Weather Apps||These apps keep users updated with the latest news and weather forecasts. They include apps for news, weather, and sports.|
Android API Levels
An API level is an identifier that represents the Android version an application is designed to run on. API levels determine the features and functionality an application can use.
Android has released multiple versions since its launch, and each version has its own API level. Here are some of the significant API levels in Android:
API Level 1 to 7
API Level 1 was Android’s first release, released in 2008. This API level had limited features and functionality. With API Level 2 in 2009, more features were added to the platform. API Levels 3 to 7 were released between 2009 and 2010, adding more features and improving platform stability.
API Level 8 to 10
API Levels 8 to 10 were released between 2010 and 2011. This period was significant as it marked the beginning of the shift towards modern Android features such as support for larger screen sizes, high-density screens, and improved audio and video support.
API Level 11 to 13
API Levels 11 to 13 were released between 2011 and 2012. These API levels added new features such as improved support for multi-core processors, Wi-Fi Direct, and NFC.
API Level 14 to 16
API Levels 14 to 16 were released between 2011 and 2012. These API levels were significant as they introduced the Holo theme, which is the design language used in modern Android applications. They also introduced features such as improved accessibility, camera support, and text-to-speech capabilities.
API Level 17 to 19
API Levels 17 to 19 were released between 2012 and 2013. These API levels added features such as support for Bluetooth Low Energy, improved Wi-Fi support, and new notification styles.
API Level 21 to 23
API Levels 21 to 23 were released between 2014 and 2015. These API levels were significant as they introduced Material Design, which is the current design language used in modern Android applications. They also introduced features such as improved security, 64-bit processor support, and improved battery life.
API Level 24 to 30
API Levels 24 to 30 were released between 2016 and 2021. These API levels introduced features such as support for the Vulkan graphics API, improved notification handling, and enhanced support for multi-window mode.
The following table displays the API level corresponding to the android version:
|API Levels||Android Version|
|3||Android 1.5 (Cupcake)|
|4||Android 1.6 (Donut)|
|5||Android 2.0 (Eclair)|
|7||Android 2.1 (Eclair)|
|8||Android 2.2.x (Froyo)|
|9||Android 2.3.x (Gingerbread)|
|10||Android 2.3.x (Gingerbread)|
|11||Android 3.0.x (Honeycomb)|
|14||Android 4.0.x (Ice Cream Sandwich)|
|15||Android 4.0.x (Ice Cream Sandwich)|
|16||Android 4.1.x (Jelly Bean)|
|17||Android 4.2.x (Jelly Bean)|
|18||Android 4.3.x (Jelly Bean)|
|19||Android 4.4 (KitKat)|
|20||Android 4.4W (KitKat Watch)|
|21||Android 5.0 (Lollipop)|
|22||Android 5.1 (Lollipop)|
|23||Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)|
|24||Android 7.0 (Nougat)|
|25||Android 7.1 (Nougat)|
|26||Android 8.0 (Oreo)|
|27||Android 8.1 (Oreo)|
|28||Android 9 (Pie)|
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