Android is the mobile operating system developed by Google. Essentially, Google produces the software that runs almost every other mobile phone besides Apple’s iPhone. There are also some popular Android tablets as well. Android is a Linux-based software system, and similar to Linux, is free and open source software. This means that other companies can use the Android operating system developed by Google and use it in their mobile devices. The distinguishing factor of this brand is a kernel. Android hosts a central core, which essentially is a strip code that helps the software operate.

The original creators were Android Inc. — led by Andy Rubin, who became the head of Android development at Google after the acquisition in 2005. Google bought the company because they thought Android Inc. had a interesting and important concept — of creating a powerful, yet free, mobile operating system — and its considerable mobile arsenal. Android helped Google to reach a younger audience as well as give the company a number of brilliant employees from Android Inc.

In March 2013, Andy Rubin decided to leave the company he founded, Android, to move on to other projects. However, Android hasn’t missed a step, and replaced him with Sundar Pichai. Pichai used to be the head of Chrome OS — Google’s desktop operating system (for laptops and desktops) — so his experiences leading development teams should be beneficial to Google.

One of the best parts of being an Android owner? The apps. Like Apple, Android has a selection of apps found in a store, called Google Play. This is the central hub that contains applications with a variety of purposes. Users can find apps to help stay organized, watch movies, read books, etc. Google’s store is edging up on the competition with the possibility it could beat Apple to 1 million apps this year. Download costs are different, ranging from completely free to a few extra dollars, but that extra fee may be worth it. As of May 2013, there had been 48 billion app installs from the Google Play store.

However, there are some issues with the Google Play store. Unlike Apple’s App Store — which has tight restrictions on what will and won’t be allowed in the App Store — the Google Play store doesn’t. Which has turned the Google Play store into a free-for-all: apps riddled with malware, fake apps, and apps with explicit adult content roam freely. Google does do a decent job getting rid of bad apps, but not as good as Apple.

Apple’s creative crew is the biggest competition against Android’s arsenal of tablets and smartphones. However, there is one main difference between Apple’s mobile operating system — iOS — and Google’s Android: While Android’s is open sourced and free for other companies, Apple’s iOS is extremely closed source. That means that it’s very limiting in terms of customizing your apps, etc. For instance, on iOS, you wouldn’t be able to change your default web browser from Safari to Google Chrome. The issues seems minuscule now, but that goes for everything, and some of Apple’s apps aren’t as good as the competition (there are a lot of other apps better than Safari, Mail and Weather). The open vs. closed operating system debate has been argued time and time again, but in the end, it depends on personal preference: Would you like a device that you can easily customize but might be more complicated (an Android) or one that’s easy to use, but doesn’t give you virtually any freedom (Apple’s iOS)?

The future of Android is extremely bright. Android seems to be putting an emphasis on wearable technology and other aspects of one’s life that consumers may not realize could be improved with the addition of a powerful mobile operating system. For instance, Samsung released the Samsung Galaxy Camera, a fully functional digital camera that runs Android. Similarly, the Ouya — a video game console powered by Android. Also, Google is reportedly working on both a Google-designed video game system and a smartwatch that are both powered by Android. However, the most impressive display of Android’s versatility is Google Glass. Many in the tech world consider Google Glass the future of technology — a pair of glasses that is connected to the Internet and displays information for users. Google Glasses, like most Google products, utilizes Android to the fullest extent.

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