There’s been a lot of buzz about the new Android-powered cell phones that have been coming out more and more lately. Some of them are touted by their mobile carriers as potential competitors for the iPhone and others are ready to be completely personalized by their owner. Android phones have also been luring people in with their Google branding, making some call Android phones “Googlephones”. But what is an Android phone and what’s so special and different about this new and emerging mobile phone operating system? Let’s find out.
Before we get into the specifics though, let’s look at an overview of how the Android mobile phone operating system came to be. Android originally began as a product of Android Inc. in 2003 and was founded by a group of people including Andy Rubin, a co-founder of Sidekick phone manufacturer Danger, and Nick Sears, a former vice president at large US mobile phone carrier T-Mobile. In 2005, Google bought the company, and although they knew little about Android’s inner operations, it caused people to speculate whether Google was interested in getting into the mobile phone market. During the years following the acquisition, Google worked to develop a Linux-powered operating system (kernel) for phones and Google was also reported to be meeting with device manufacturers to make phones with the new operating system.
As Android grew to more phones on more carriers worldwide, its popularity also grew. After fine-tuning the code that runs the inner-workings of the operating system, Google released the source code code to all, which developers and others saw a a big step forward because this made Android the only widespread open source cell phone operating system.
More and more carriers are picking up Android phones for use on their network. The new Motorola Droid as well as other new Android cell phones like the HTC/T-Mobile G1 are attracting a new audience for their ease-of-use and large feature set. While Android’s market share is still at only about 4%, the Android Market has over 9,000 applications and continues to grow, showing that Android, while different, is still headed towards being a big name in mobile operating systems.
Google also encourages developers to build for Android by offering huge prize money to popular and winning applications in the Android Market. Through user voting in their “Android Developer Challenge”, Google awards developers of popular applications with up to $250,000. Android’s market (the equivalent to the Apple App Store or Windows Mobile Marketplace) also has a smaller fee developers have to pay to submit applications. Instead of $99, developers can submit their applications for $25. Finally, Android also has what some consider to be an easier-to-learn and easier-to-use developer framework, which uses the widespread Java programming language. So, Android is also different because it is very developer-friendly.
Do you have an Android phone? What do you like about Android phones? Share your thoughts in the comments below and also check out the Top 10 Free Android Apps [Part 1] and [Part 2] and the Top 5 Free Games for Android phones.