AndroidAndroid is a Linux-based operating system designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers. Initially developed by Android, Inc., which Google backed financially and later bought 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 is open source and Google releases the code under the Apache License.This open-source code and permissive licensing allows the software to be freely modified and distributed by device manufacturers, wireless carriers and enthusiast developers. Additionally, Android has a large community of developers writing applications ("apps") that extend the functionality of devices, written primarily in a customized version of the Java programming language. In October 2012, there were approximately 700,000 apps available for Android, and the estimated number of applications downloaded from Google Play, Android's primary app store, was 25 billion. A developer survey conducted in April–May 2013 found that Android is the most popular platform for developers, used by 71% of the mobile developer population.
These factors have contributed towards making Android the world's most widely used smartphone platform, overtaking Symbian in the fourth quarter of 2010, and the software of choice for technology companies who require a low-cost, customizable, lightweight operating system for high tech devices without developing one from scratch. As a result, despite being primarily designed for phones and tablets, it has seen additional applications on televisions, games consoles, digital cameras and other electronics. Android's open nature has further encouraged a large community of developers and enthusiasts to use the open-source code as a foundation for community-driven projects, which add new features for advanced users or bring Android to devices which were officially released running other operating systems.
Android's share of the global smartphone market, led by Samsung products, was 64% in March 2013. In July 2013 there were 11,868 different models of Android device, scores of screen sizes and eight OS versions simultaneously in use. The operating system's success has made it a target for patent litigation as part of the so-called "smartphone wars" between technology companies. As of May 2013, a total of 900 million Android devices have been activated and 48 billion apps have been installed from the Google Play store. As of September 3, 2013, there have been 1 billion Android devices activated.
Google acquired Android Inc. on August 17, 2005, making it a wholly owned subsidiary of Google. Key employees of Android Inc., including Rubin, Miner and White, stayed at the company after the acquisition. Not much was known about Android Inc. at the time, but many assumed that Google was planning to enter the mobile phone market with this move. At Google, the team led by Rubin developed a mobile device platform powered by the Linux kernel. Google marketed the platform to handset makers and carriers on the promise of providing a flexible, upgradable system. Google had lined up a series of hardware component and software partners and signaled to carriers that it was open to various degrees of cooperation on their part.