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March 21, 2017

What is Android?

A look at the world's most popular smartphone operating system.

By Alexander Sword

Android is an open-source operating system (OS) which is used in smartphones and tablets.

Android is by far the most widely used operating system, featuring in devices by vendors such as LG, Samsung, HTC and Huawei.

It uses a gesture-based interface designed for touch screens. It features a status bar at the top of the screen which provides updates and notifications, including alerts from apps and key parameters of the phone such as battery life.

There are a wide range of applications developed for the Android OS, which can be downloaded from Google’s official Play Store.

Unlike iOS, Android has a range of third-party app stores such as Slide ME and F-Droid. Amazon also has an app store for Android. Some of these provide unvetted applications, which may contain malware.

Android has an 86.2 percent market share in operating systems, according to Gartner’s latest figures examining the market, with the closest contender as an operating system is iOS, with a market share of 12.9 percent, followed by Windows with 0.6 percent.

What is the most popular Android smartphone?

Samsung, which uses the Android operating system, is the most popular smartphone vendor with 20.7 percent of the total smartphone market in terms of shipments.

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Since Android is used in devices by far more vendors than iOS or Windows Phone, the prices of Android devices vary hugely. For example, premium devices such as the HTC 10 may cost in the hundreds of pounds while cheaper devices may be in the tens of pounds.

The company was first founded in Palo Alto in October 2003 by Andy Rubin of Danger, Rich Miner of WildFire and Nick Sears of T-Mobile.

Google acquired Android in 2005.

The operating system has encountered legal issues, with Oracle suing Google for copyright infringement over elements of Java apparently being used in Android.

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