What is Android? Basic Guide for Beginners

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To the uninitiated, Android may seem like an overly complicated operating system, especially if they are accustomed to the iPhone’s simple and easy to navigate interface. If you have landed on this post, I assume you want to know what Android really is – so, i’ll save you the tech talk and try to introduce you to Android, as simply as possible.

Android is a mobile operating system (runs on mobile devices – phones, tablets) currently developed by Google (the company), and is open source, which means everyone can modify the code and customize the operating system. This freedom of customization is one of the reasons Android is gaining popularity (and how you probably found out about it), and what allows it to be used for a multitude of devices, produced by various manufacturers with different specifications.

The operating system is primarily designed for touchscreen devices (which is also one reason you don’t see hard keys all that often) and is regularly updated to incorporate new features and optimizations, which make it more user-friendly. Every version (to date) is named after a dessert (Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich), and the latest one, 4.2.x is called Jelly Bean.

All major mobile manufacturers (Samsung, Sony, HTC, Motorola, LG etc) produce Android devices, which vary in terms of hardware (display, processor, memory, graphics, camera etc) and consequently price. One of the benefits of having Android as an operating system is that it works well even with differences in hardware and screen size, primarily because there are numerous versions manufacturers can choose to customize and install on their devices.

You are probably wondering whatever happened to ‘Apps’ – yes, Android has apps, loads and loads of apps (over 600,000), which can be accessed from the Google Play Store. The paid applications are reasonably priced and there is a huge collection of free ones for you to download. Applications include popular communication apps (Skype, Whatsapp etc), games (Angry Birds, Temple Run), music apps and Google’s own set of essentials (Google Maps, Gmail, Hangouts etc). The Play Store houses an excellent collection to say the least, and exploring it can be a lot of fun.

As for Android’s user interface, most people have seen it by now, and it mainly revolves around home screens and widgets. The home screens are like multiple desktops, allowing you to place your favorite icons and widgets on them. Widgets are like mini apps, they are like displays which are always on, conveying data and information about various applications. For instance, Android has clock and weather widgets, which, obviously, display the time and weather info for your locality. These widgets can be placed on any home screen (there are multiple home screens, which you can swipe around) and will continue to provide you the information you need, which in this case, is time and weather.

Congratulations, now you know the very basics of Android, and can continue reading more about it to know further details. In the coming posts, I will be trying to give you more information on Android along with useful tips, suggestions and app reviews.

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