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These days when you buy a phone, you’re not just getting a gadget, you’re getting an ecosystem. After spending hundreds on apps and eBooks, starting over to switch from iOS to Android can be scary. You want to be sure you pick a platform that will stick around.

For the most part, your choice boils down to Android, iOS, or Windows. Of those three, I would say Android is the safest bet. Here’s why that green little robot isn’t going away anytime soon.

1. Android Is Open Source

Android is an open source project. Some people, myself included, find this appealing for ethical reasons Is Android Really Open Source? And Does It Even Matter? Is Android Really Open Source? And Does It Even Matter? Here we explore whether or not Android is really open source. After all, it is based on Linux! Read More . But this also serves as the primary insurance that Android will stick around.

Google makes source code available in the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Everyone from hobbyist developers to hardware manufacturers is free to use this code. Even you can take Android and install it on all sorts of things yourself 5 Devices That Didn't Come With Android Which You Can Install It On 5 Devices That Didn't Come With Android Which You Can Install It On You can find Android running on unusual gadgets, and because of its open-source nature, hackers love to port it to different devices. Here are five devices that you may easily install Android on. Read More .

If Google were to lose interest, there are many companies with enough stake in Android to take the code and continue development. Actually, that’s a separate point in and of itself.

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2. Many Companies Are Invested

No one company determines Android’s future. To fully appreciate this, let’s first look at the competition.

With iOS, Apple designs the hardware and the software. Apple is also in charge of distributing apps. Millions of iPhone and iPad users are dependent on Apple for future updates, software, hardware support, and phone selection. If Apple makes decisions they don’t like, their only options are to deal with it or abandon the Apple ecosystem entirely.

With Windows on phones (the current version being Windows 10 Mobile Why You Should Upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile and How to Do It Why You Should Upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile and How to Do It Windows 10 Mobile has finally been released to the public. Provided your phone is supported, you should upgrade. Here's everything you need to know about upgrading from Windows Phone 8.1 to Windows 10 Mobile. Read More ), the situation is better, but only slightly. Microsoft controls the software experience, but other companies can license the operating system to put on their hardware. This is similar to what we see with Windows on PCs. The downside is that you’re still dependent on Microsoft for most of the experience.

On Android, there are dozens of large players. Google may drive most of the development, but it’s not alone. Samsung, HTC, and LG each tweak the interface and make their own apps. Amazon puts the Android-based Fire OS on its Fire tablets. Companies are cramming Android into game consoles, watches, cameras, TVs, and fridges Not Just For Phones And Tablets: What Other Devices Run Android? Not Just For Phones And Tablets: What Other Devices Run Android? Your phone runs Android, your tablet runs Android... your refrigerator runs Android? What other sorts of devices does this mobile operating system power? Read More . Corporations aside from Google are investing billions into making products that run Android.

3. Competing App Stores Are Welcome

Most Android phones and tablets ship with access to the Google Play Store, but this is hardly the only option. Once you allow installation of apps from unknown sources Is It Safe to Install Android Apps from Unknown Sources? Is It Safe to Install Android Apps from Unknown Sources? The Google Play Store isn't your only source of apps, but is it safe to search elsewhere? Read More , the possibilities are endless.

With Amazon Underground, you can experience many paid apps for free 10 Best Android Apps Not in the Play Store 10 Best Android Apps Not in the Play Store The Play Store isn't the end-all-be-all of Android apps. If you've never ventured outside of it, you're really missing out. Read More . F-Droid offers software that is free and open source. The Humble Bundle is a great way to get games. Frankly, there are more options out there than most of us would think Downloading Apps on Android: Everything You Need to Know Downloading Apps on Android: Everything You Need to Know Looking to download apps for your Android phone or tablet? This is everything you need to know about the official app store for Android: Google Play. Read More .

Yes, you can find alternative app stores for iOS or Windows Phone, but none of them come from major companies. Amazon is hardly the only big name to distribute Android apps — Samsung has its own store, and Barnes & Noble used to. Companies that set up their own app stores want to sell apps for as long as people are willing to make them.

4. Custom ROMs Are Everywhere

AndroidEcosystem-Custom-ROMs

If you don’t like the out-of-the-box iOS experience, you can jailbreak your device Jailbreaking & iOS: The Pros and Cons of Voiding Your Warranty Jailbreaking & iOS: The Pros and Cons of Voiding Your Warranty Have you been feeling the need to jailbreak recently? With the latest tools, freeing your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad (not iPad 2) is as easy and accessible as it’s likely to get. There are... Read More . This voids your warranty and gives you more control over your phone. On Android, we call this rooting, and that’s only one way you can make your device your own The Best Tweaks You Can Make To Your Android Without Rooting The Best Tweaks You Can Make To Your Android Without Rooting Customizing your Android device isn't only for the tech savvy. Learn how to get the most out of your unrooted Android phone or tablet! Read More .

Want to really change the way your phone functions? Install a custom ROM. These are alternative firmware images that can replace the one your manufacturer provides. CyanogenMod is the most popular option. It gained so many users that the founder started a company that now tries to compete with Google Google Warns the Internet Will Disappear, the Future of Cyanogen [Tech News Digest] Google Warns the Internet Will Disappear, the Future of Cyanogen [Tech News Digest] Google predicts that the Internet will disappear, the future of Cyanogen, Malaysia Airlines gets hacked, Expedia buys Travelocity, and the 1995 Facebook TV commercial that never was. Read More .

CyanogenMod may be the most well-known, but it is not alone What Are The Best Custom Android ROMs? What Are The Best Custom Android ROMs? The moment you realize you can flash your Android phone with a new ROM is a pivotal one. Suddenly, you're free: Endless customization options, no more vendor bloatware, and, best of all, you don't have... Read More .

There are many reasons to install a custom ROM, but one of them is having the comfort of knowing you’re less dependent on any one company 6 Reasons You Need to Be Using a Custom ROM 6 Reasons You Need to Be Using a Custom ROM Custom ROMs are the best thing about having an Android phone! Don't miss out! Read More . And if businesses were to give up on Android, custom ROM makers would still keep the operating system running on devices.

5. Android May Be Your Next PC

You can use Android alongside any computer, but Chromebooks are the ideal companion Have an Android Device? Chromebooks Are the Perfect Companion Have an Android Device? Chromebooks Are the Perfect Companion Android phones and tablets play really well with Chromebooks -- this is why you'll want both. Read More . Thing is, that relationship is just getting started. Android and Chrome OS could become one someday Chrome Is Joining Android, and All You Need to Know About Why This Sucks Chrome Is Joining Android, and All You Need to Know About Why This Sucks There has been speculation about Chrome and Android combining in some way for some time, but recently it's all come to a head: Chrome will become part of Android. And that sucks. Read More .

Plus there’s the recent story going around that the Play Store is coming to Chromebooks. This would provide access to millions of apps on a completely different form-factor. Your investment in a mobile platform will have become an investment in a desktop one as well. And there are already unofficial ways to make this happen now How To Run Android Apps in Chrome on Mac / Linux / Windows How To Run Android Apps in Chrome on Mac / Linux / Windows It's now possible to run Android apps in the Chrome browser -- it just takes a little bit of work. Read More .

If this sounds exciting, you don’t have to wait. Google’s latest Android tablet, the Pixel C, is essentially a laptop if you buy the keyboard dock. HP has made laptops that run Android in the past. Acer put Android on a desktop. Jide Technology is working on a version you can install on a PC yourself A Real, Android-Based Alternative to Windows: Remix OS 2.0 A Real, Android-Based Alternative to Windows: Remix OS 2.0 Read More .

Google Is a Benevolent Overlord

It’s true — picking up an Android device is an easy way to get sucked into using Google’s services. This is the way the company makes money, and it’s the big reason the search giant has no problem giving away the platform for free.

But Google doesn’t lock you into using anything. You don’t have to sign in with your account. You can use alternative app stores. You can get your books, magazines, and videos from third-party sources. If you’re committed enough, you can go pretty much entirely Google-free Here's How You Can Use Android But Ditch Google Here's How You Can Use Android But Ditch Google Want to use your Android smartphone or tablet without Google? Want to use open source software? Here we take an in-depth look at exactly how to do that. Read More .

When it comes to Android, you have options — more than if you hedge your bets with iOS or Windows. This little mobile operating system has become one of the biggest open source projects in the world.

Are you an Android user? Ready to become one? What other reasons would you add? Sound off below!

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