Android is an operating system for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers. It is developed by the Open Handset Alliance led by Google. Google purchased the initial developer of the software, Android Inc., on August 17, 2005.
Android is a software bunch comprising not only operating system but also middleware and key applications. The Android Open Source Project (AOSP) is tasked with the maintenance and further development of Android. Android consists of a kernel based on the Linux kernel, with middleware, libraries and APIs written in C and application software running on an application framework which includes Java-compatible libraries based on Apache Harmony. Android uses the Dalvik virtual machine with just-in-time compilation to run Dalvik dex-code (Dalvik Executable), which is usually translated from Java bytecode. Android has a large community of developers writing applications (“apps”) that extend the functionality of the devices. Developers write primarily in a customized version of Java. Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich is the latest Android version that is available to phones.
The current features and specifications of Android include:
Application framework enabling reuse and replacement of components.
Dalvik virtual machine optimized for mobile devices.
Integrated browser based on the open source WebKit engine.
Optimized graphics powered by a custom 2D graphics library; 3D graphics based on the OpenGL ES 1.0 specification (hardware acceleration optional).
SQLite for structured data storage.
Media support for common audio, video, and still image formats (MPEG4, H.264, MP3, AAC, AMR, JPG, PNG, GIF).
GSM Telephony (hardware dependent).
Bluetooth, EDGE, 3G, and WiFi (hardware dependent).
Camera, GPS, compass, and accelerometer (hardware dependent).
Rich development environment including a device emulator, tools for debugging, memory and performance profiling, and a plugin for the Eclipse IDE.
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