What is Android and Why Should You Care?

Android is for the most part, an operating system, a software platform that is made especially for mobile phones. Android is developed by Google. It allows code developers to write code in a language that is similar to Java. It also uses Java libraries that Google develops.

Android doesn’t run programs that are developed in Java itself. The Android platform made its debut in November 2007, which coincided with the advent of the Open Handset Alliance. The Open Handset Alliance was created with over 30 software, hardware, and telecommunications organizations, all of whom promised to promote open standards for mobile phone software.

Google Phone - Android
Google Phone - Android

It all started with Google acquiring Android, Inc.  Android was already known for making software for mobile phones. In July 2005, Google bought Android Inc., and rumors began that Google would be making a mobile phone. Google later applied for a patent on a mobile payment paradigm that it called Gpay. Gpay would allow customers to send a message to Google providing payment details to a designated payee. Gpay would debit the user’s account and credit the account of the payee.

As with any revolutionary venture, Google’s Android may pose its own risks. Its open source phone operating system in conjunction with the Open Handset Alliance might expose mobile phone operators to more security risks than other current devices on the market. There is yet no one central authority that can certify Android applications, so there is the risk of misuse. But Android was also made in such a way that misuse is held to a minimum.

Android is a Linux-based system, and for each application, code developers must follow a specific procedure. This is to avoid malicious programs disturbing other applications or even phone functions. For example, if an app needs access to data or phone operations – perhaps to read phone numbers to make a call – the user will have to explicitly enable this function during installation.

So far, an Android emulator and part of the software development kit that is available for free have been used to demonstrate the functionality of the system. One example was an application that could study a shopping list on a Google spreadsheet and convert it to proper format for a mobile phone. Data in the spreadsheet could be edited in real time using Android, showing that Android may become a real power tool for phone app developers.