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.

This was a groundbreaking concept at the time, as most mobile operating systems were closed and proprietary.

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 natureAndroid is an open-source operating system, which means it is freely available to use or modify.
CustomizationAndroid is highly customizable, which means users can customize their devices.
Device availabilityAndroid is available on a wide range of devices from various manufacturers.
User-friendly featuresAndroid 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.
AffordabilityAndroid devices are available at a wide range of price points, making them accessible to a broad audience.
SecurityAndroid 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.

Android Features

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:

CustomizationAndroid is highly customizable, which means that users can tailor their devices to their liking.
Resizable WidgetsWidgets on Android are resizable, allowing users to customize their home screen to their liking.
Multi-Language SupportAndroid supports both single-direction and bi-directional text, making it suitable for users who speak different languages.
Google Cloud MessagingGoogle 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 DirectAndroid supports Wi-Fi Direct, a technology that enables apps to discover and pair directly over a high-bandwidth peer-to-peer connection.
User InterfaceAndroid OS offers an attractive and user-friendly interface, making it easy for users to navigate through their devices.
ConnectivityAndroid supports various connectivity options, including GSM/EDGE, IDEN, CDMA, EV-DO, UMTS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, LTE, NFC, and WiMAX.
Data StorageAndroid uses SQLite, a lightweight relational database, to store data, ensuring efficient and reliable data storage.
Media SupportAndroid 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.
MessagingAndroid supports both SMS and MMS messaging, allowing users to communicate effectively.
Web BrowsingThe Android web browser is based on the open-source WebKit layout engine, coupled with Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine, providing support for HTML5 and CSS3.
Multi-TouchAndroid has native support for multi-touch, enabling users to perform multiple actions simultaneously on their devices.
Multi-TaskingAndroid’s multitasking capability allows users to switch between multiple applications and run them simultaneously.
Android BeamAndroid 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 CenterAndroid has a notification center that displays notifications from various apps in one place.
SecurityAndroid has several built-in security features that help protect users’ devices from malware and other threats.

Android Applications

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 AppsThese 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 AppsThese apps help users connect with others and stay in touch. They include apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Entertainment AppsThese apps are designed to provide entertainment and fun. They include apps for music, movies, games, and books.
Productivity AppsThese apps help users increase productivity and efficiency. They include apps for note-taking, calendar, task management, and document editing.
Travel and Navigation AppsThese apps help users navigate and travel. They include apps for maps, GPS, and transportation booking.
Health and Fitness AppsThese apps are designed to help users improve their health and fitness. They include apps for diet tracking, workout planning, and meditation.
Education AppsThese apps help users learn and acquire various skills. They include language learning apps, educational games, and online courses.
Finance AppsThese apps help users manage their finances. They include apps for budgeting, expense tracking, and investment management.
News and Weather AppsThese 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.

Note: As of March 29, 2023, the latest Android API levels are 31 and 32 for Android 12.

The following table displays the API level corresponding to the android version:

API LevelsAndroid Version
1Android 1.0
2Android 1.1
3Android 1.5 (Cupcake)
4Android 1.6 (Donut)
5Android 2.0 (Eclair)
6Android 2.0.1
7Android 2.1 (Eclair)
8Android 2.2.x (Froyo)
9Android 2.3.x (Gingerbread)
10Android 2.3.x (Gingerbread)
11Android 3.0.x (Honeycomb)
12Android 3.1.x
13Android 3.2
14Android 4.0.x (Ice Cream Sandwich)
15Android 4.0.x (Ice Cream Sandwich)
16Android 4.1.x (Jelly Bean)
17Android 4.2.x (Jelly Bean)
18Android 4.3.x (Jelly Bean)
19Android 4.4 (KitKat)
20Android 4.4W (KitKat Watch)
21Android 5.0 (Lollipop)
22Android 5.1 (Lollipop)
23Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)
24Android 7.0 (Nougat)
25Android 7.1 (Nougat)
26Android 8.0 (Oreo)
27Android 8.1 (Oreo)
28Android 9 (Pie)
29Android 10
30Android 11
31Android 12

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