What is Android? According to the Android developers site “Android is a software stack for mobile devices that includes an operating system, middleware and key applications. The Android SDK provides the tools and APIs necessary to begin developing applications on the Android platform using Java programming language”.
If you are like me, your eyes probably glazed over around the “software stack” part of this definition. As a consumer, all you really want to know is that Android is a serious and stable platform in the Smartphone market.
For several years the common belief out there was that there was only one player in the Smartphone arena – and if we don’t have at least one of them per household we would never gain entrance to the best of clubs, we would be seated by the kitchen when dining out, our kids would be social pariahs, etc, etc, etc. And to some extent perception became reality.
I have often spoken about the problem Android has faced globally trying to pitch an operating platform against an iconic brand. Cynics might say that Android only got a foothold in the US market due to the fact that some carriers did not have access to the iPhone, and their customers wanted devices that did at least as much if not more.
An Historical Sidebar
Google purchased Android Inc in 2005 and launched the Open Handset Alliance – a consortium of 84 hardware, software and telecommunications companies – in November 2007. Members of the consortium include HTC, Motorola (who’se mobile phone company was recently purchased by Google), Sony Ericsson, Toshiba, Garmin, Samsung and LG.
In true dotcom company form, the folk at Android have promoted their code-named software releases as Éclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, and the soon to be released Ice Cream Sandwich!
The greatest thing about Android, in my opinion, is choice.
The choice of suppliers, the choice of screen size, and the choice of what I see, how I see it, and where I see it. (Android supports Adobe Flash!) Live wall papers, meaningful dynamic widgets, expandable memory, multiple notifications for social media, along with the freedom to activate independent of my computer.
Android devices come in a range of flavours – tablets and mobile phones – with a wide range of screen types. Take the Samsung Galaxy S II for example.8.49mm thin, Dual Core 1.2GHz Application Processor, 8 megapixel camera, 4.3” Super AMOLED Plus display. Then there is the HTC EVO 3D – offering 3D and 2D HD Video recording, 4.3” qHD capacitive touch screen, 3D without glasses – videos, photos, games and more; LG Optimus Black P970 features a 4” capacitive touch WVGA screen with NOVA display for great outdoor viewing, and weighs only 109g.
If that doesn’t do it for you – what about the Motorola Atrix? Versatility is its middle name. With Webtop software, the Atrix fits a series of docks to become your clock radio, HDMI multi-media player, and laptop. Security is paramount – and the Atrix sports a fingerprint scanner to keep your data safe. Running Android 2.3 (Gingerbread ), the Sony Ericsson Xperia neo sports a 3.7” Reality display (XLED) featuring Sony Bravia Mobile Engine. HD Video capture is through the 8.1 megapixel camera with Sony’s Exmor R mobile camera sensor.
In the Tablet range – look at the Motorola Xoom – the world’s first Android Honeycomb device. You can build your own view through the Android Marketplace. Featuring a 10.1” WXGA 1280 x 800 screen, 1080p HD Video playback, and 32GB of memory (expandable to 64GB), you can create HD Video, edit and play back on the go or through your HDTV with HDMI.
If its speed you’re after, the Acer Iconia Tab A501 Pro has an inbuilt 21mbps HSPA+ modem, two USB ports (standard and Micro), and weighs only 760g.
There’s more to come
With the recent launch of Telstra’s 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) network came the promise of LTE Android devices. The first of these to surface by mid 2012 will be the HTC 4G.