Google Android Operating System (OS) is the hottest operating system on the planet right now and for good reason.
Android was founded in 2003 in the silicone valley (Palo Alto) California. The original developer was a gentleman by Andy Rubin, Nick Sears, Chris White, and Rich Miner. The OS was developed initially with mobile devices in mind and vowed to be different from other OS's which were developed before it in many important ways. It would be a better operating system because in addition to simply taking advantage of a device's computing power, it would also take advantage of the device's GPS (location detecting) capabilities. Finally, and this is so huge, it would take advantage of the user's PREFERENCES. That means, the device would actually be a smart device and learn what the user liked based on decisions he had made in the past. This would separate Android from other OS's and have the end user in mind. It would actually know what the user liked and as soon as they would sign in it wold load those preferences.
In the Summer of 2005 (about 2 years after Android was started) Google acquired Android. Not much was known about the company and the software prior to google's acquisition other than the fact that they were developing software for mobile phone's. Rumor's had been circulating for quite some time that Google was looking to enter the mobile phone market and this was confirmation of that. No one however anticipated what google's approach would be, and that within a short period of time that Android would catch on so quickly and have such a huge user base.
There are actually 3 levels to the Android OS. This is referred to as a 'stack' or 'software stack'. The 3 levels are the system, the middleware and key applications. The software actually sits on the Linux Kernel. The software is 'open source' meaning it is in the public domain and can be distributed for free, and developers will have access to the source code.
The Android 'software stack' of multiple Java applications which run on a Java based, object oriented application framework on top of Java core. The Android OS which includes the Linux kernel, consists of about twelve million lines of code. Of that, there about three million lines of xml, 3 million lines of C, 2 million lines of Java and almost 2 million lines of C++. Quite a massive and complex piece of programming.
Why We Believe Android is Superior to Apple OS
For mobile devices (Smart Phones, Tablets, etc) I had been a huge lover of the Apple OS and the iPhone (iPod Touch) since they were first introduced several years ago. From a hardware standpoint the iPhone lived up to it's billing and performed very well. It was rugged and durable with a scratch proof screen. The accelerometer performed just as it should and made game playing a blast.
From a software standpoint, The icon based interface was very intuitive and easy to learn. The number of Applications (App's) grew rapidly and virtually any interest you had their would be an app available. Then with the adding of the back and front facing camera's with Face Time made this the device we had wanted from day 1. Their were a few things however that kind of left a 'bad taste' in our mouth. Those included their pricing structures, their AT & T exclusivity, and forcing buyers to upgrade every 6 or so months, sometimes for free, sometimes at a cost.
With their actions over the past few years it has become crystal clear Apple's first concern is not their customers, but Apple itself. I am all for a company making a profit, but in my opinion they should not make conscious decisions to screw their customers on a widespread basis and intentionally build in obsolescence to their devices knowing their faithful users will be forced to update the device hardware or software within a short time period.
Apple gave AT & T a monopoly on the iPhone when it was first released and for a several year time period, and has now added 1 additional carrier Verizon, to also have access to the phone. How does that benefit their customers ? A monopoly by it's very nature is not consumer or customer friendly. It forces the company to profit more and make consumer's pay more and have less access to what they really want. This left millions of customers paying too much for the phone and required monthly packages required to take full advantage of the iphones capabilities. In addition, millions of customers who were not served by the AT & T network could not purchase an iPhone (The iphone is set up that it has to be activated to work properly). There were also widespread reports that many of the customers were receiving poor reception on the AT & T network, yet because that was their only option they had no other choice.
Most importantly was the way apple would build in obsolescence to the device. By that what we mean is they waited to add a camera (even though the technology was available), and other functionality, both hardware and software that were available at the time of release yet Apple held back for a future update. Apple typically would plan an update about every 6 months or so. The hardware updates obviously cost a fee, the software upgrades were sometimes fee and other times required a fee.
Lastly, and more importantly was control of App's. The app's are at the key of a smart phone as they are programs specially designed for the device and make it do what the user wants it to do. They help the hardware developer sell more units as if a user wants a specific app they need to first buy the hardware. From the beginning Apple was insistent on controlling the whole process, not caring about the APP developer or User. Apple charged developers a fee for the System Developer Kit (SDK) which the Application developers need to develop an app. This prevented many developers from developing apps as they simply could not afford to enter the market. This meant less apps available for customers and delayed others. Also, once an app was developed the only way to get it to a consumer was via the App store on iTunes. Another barrier! Also, Apple would set fee's for the apps AND, most importantly, take a large percentage of the income from the App. This stifled App development and those companies that built apps anyway made less money, were able to higher (and or pay) their programmers less. The bottom line is it benefited Apple most and hurt customers the most.
Now, compare that to the way in which Google has developed the Android OS from the start. I guess the basic philosophy differs so drastically it is almost not fair to compare it to Apple. From the outset, the Android operating system has been developed as 'open source' meaning it would be distributed free to both developers and end users. This is such a huge distinction and has such drastic advantages in so many ways we will have to go into more detail on the impact of that in a future, separate post. This open source mentality carried through to the System Development Kit and the App market.
As if that wasn't enough, the other huge distinction (and advantage in our opinion) is the fact that the software has been developed 'machine independent'. Yes, that's right, the Android OS has been designed to run on virtually any platform, be it desktop, laptop, hand held, tablet, smart phone or Other. This is so huge it almost boggles the mind. That means that the user will have a consistent look and feel irregardless of the device being used. This means whether you are using a tablet, smartphone or other you will immediately know how to operate and use the device. Everything will be consistent, and apps that run on one will run on the other.
Furthermore, Google realized that no software is 'static' and will be constantly needed to be updated as new devices, capabilities and needs arise. Due to the open source nature of the software this will allow multiple developers to always be improving the system and that any changes or upgrades will remain free. This is win-win for the consumer as not only will they have the latest technology and capabilities, it will come at no additional cost.
Developers likewise can benefit from the open source SDK and develop applications quickly and inexpensively with the no cost of entry. Also, they can market those app's in a variety of ways to make sure that they can earn the income they deserve and hire the programmers they need to develop needed and wanted apps.
One of the important distinctions of Android vs the Apple OS is the fact that Android supports Flash, where the Apple OS does not, and Apple has publicly stated it will not support in the future. Flash is an integral part of many websites and it is frustrating to land on a site with a Flash Element that doesn't work properly.
Part of the meteoric rise in the use of Android is the fact that unlike Apple which chose to only allow 1 carrier the iphone (thus the AT & T Monopoly), The android OS has been available on virtually every cellular network and a variety of major manufacturers making hardware. In addition to mobile phones, we are also seeing a variety of manufacturers making 'tablet computers' running Android OS, some of which are also capable of making calls, some are just computing units.
The major manufacturers so far appear to be Motorola, HTC, and Samsung with a variety of models, features and capabilities.
Also, since virtually every cell phone carrier had an android phone model available, consumers were able to buy an Android phone. This made the android available to many times more people than could have the iphone. Models were less expensive as was the calling and data packages.
At the same time developers were developing apps like wildfire for the android. Virtually every iPhone app was ported over to the android and many more were developed. There currently are over a quarter million (250,000) apps available. Apps can be purchased at the android market or through third party websites, although most are distributed through the marketplace.
All of this has come together, a huge installed base, superior software support, superior apps, and hardware which meets or exceeds Apple's to where we can now say that we believe Android to be the superior mobile platform.