If you don’t know what a smartphone is, read on. Now a smartphone can be loosely defined as any phone, offering far more advanced features and connectivity options than most phones of its time. These phones are sometimes compared to personal portable computing devices. Software developers also have an ideal platform to work from, as these phones are built around an operating system. They include powerful processors and huge memories. The category made up of smartphones has witnessed the highest growth in sales in recent history.

Now that you know what smartphones are, you must have realized that they run an operating system much like your personal computer.

Android is the mobile operating system released by Google after the company acquired Android, Inc. It has now been bought by the Open Handset Alliance. The word Android literally translates to something that is biologically based and closely resembles a human being. The base of Android is formed by the ARM architecture. ARM stands for Advanced RISC Machine or Acorn RISC Machine and both are used interchangeably. There are other operating systems for mobile phones based on the ARM architecture that Android competes with. Some of these operating systems are Microsoft’s Windows Mobile and Windows Phone, Apple’s proprietary iOS, and the older mobile operating system, the Symbian platform. Any phone that uses an Android operating system is an Android smartphone. These are manufactured by a myriad of well-known mobile phone manufacturing companies. Additionally, many cellular service providers seamlessly integrate these devices into their networks.

From a technological point of view, Android consists of-

1. An operating system
3. Application Key

Android smartphones use a version of the Linux kernel that has been modified to serve the mobile environment. Therefore, it is open source. The Android operating system was first released on October 21, 2008. Since then, it has seen several updates. These updates have mainly addressed security issues or added new features. The fourth and latest version of Android is version 2.2. It is also known as Froy. It has been based on Linux Kernel 2.6.32. The next version, dubbed Gingerbread, will be released in the last quarter of 2010. Android smartphones generally have the following features:

• A wide variety of phone designs.
• SQLite is used for structured data storage.
• Connectivity options such as Bluetooth, WI-Fi, GSM, EDGE, 3G, etc. are available.
• Multi-touch support has been built into the operating system.
• Additional hardware devices such as cameras, GPS, touch screens, etc. are supported.
• A fully functional web browser is provided.
• Various applications such as calendar, maps, email client, etc. are provided in the box. However, you can download and install many other applications and install them. These applications can be free or paid.
• Android provides a healthy development environment. It contains various tools for debugging as well as a device emulator.
• Android smartphone prices are typically lower than smartphones that have similar hardware specifications but a different operating system.

Android smartphones, in their short lifespan, have already made a big impact. These phones are expected to pack better features and be cost-effective.

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