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The evolution of Android

by Andrew Moir

Android Inc. was founded in 2003 with a secret mission to develop more dynamic software for mobile phones. Google purchased the company in 2005 and while most didn’t realise the significance of this acquisition, it had long been suspected that the search engine giants would make a move into the mobile sector.

In 2007 the company launched the first version of the operating system, based on the Linux Kernel. Without their own handsets Google needed to find collaborators to run the innovative system and so the Open Handset Alliance began.

The Alliance is a consortium of electronics, technology and communications formed to develop open standards for mobile devices and ultimately challenge Apple’s dominance in the smart phone market.

Since it’s founding in November 2007, the Open Handset Alliance has continued to grow and now comprises of 84 companies including Sony, Motorola, Dell, Intel, HTC, Vodafone and T Mobile.

The first phone to feature the Android system was the HTC Dream. This version of the software featured a number of Google features including G mail, Google Maps and YouTube video viewer.

From having less than 3% market share in 2009 Android has grown exponentially and is now thought to have more than half of the market with the operating system available on more than 130million devices worldwide with 6billion apps downloaded from the Android Market from games to instant messenger.

There have been many versions of the OS since its launch each, fixing bugs and evolving the system. Google has chosen to name each major update after something sweet in alphabetical order. Following the Beta the first major update was version 1.5 otherwise known as Cupcake. This incorporated Widgets and MP4 support. Through Donut, Eclair, Froyo and Gingerbread a vast number of features were added with bluetooth support, voice search, Javascript, Flash, USB connectivity and support for multi-core processors.

The current version is called Ice Cream Sandwich and includes new features such as a customisable launch bar, a built in photo editor, a new tabbed browser and high resolution video recording.

The future seems pretty bright with Android moving away from phones and onto tablets and e-readers like the popular Samsung Galaxy Tab, with a highly customised version featured on the Kindle Fire.

Although the iPhone remains the best selling phone on the market, others like the Samsung Galaxy S2 and HTC Thunderbolt are catching up and Android’s flexibility makes it powerful. However, with Nokia’s collaboration with Windows appearing popular there could be a new player in town.

Do you have an Android or are you married to your iPhone? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

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