Android is an open source mobile operating system initially released by Google in 2008 and has since become of the most widely used operating systems on any platform.
- Support for a wide range of input methods, including third-party software keyboards.
- Voice controls and an AI-powered voice assistant.
- True multitasking that takes advantage of multi-core processors.
- Multilingual without the need to download language packages over the internet.
- Mini-applications that can be placed on the home screen called widgets for quick access to relevant information and features.
- A) An unmatched level of customizability.
- B) Comes with no licensing fees, effectively lowering the costs of devices that run it.
- C) A consistent, visually appealing design language that extends into applications.
- D) Unrestricted hardware support translates to an abundance of options across price ranges.
- A) Android devices have a significant amount of fragmentation in hardware and versions of the OS, causing compatibility issues.
- B) Chances of contracting malicious software are relatively high for the average user.
- C) The operating system’s settings can be a bit complicated an unintuitive to new users.
The general visual design and mechanics of Android draw much inspiration from the traditional desktop OS, welcoming you with a home screen where you can place shortcuts and widgets and a centered button to reveal a list of all installed applications known as the App Drawer. It includes a notification area that it hides in a drop-down area along with frequently used settings accessible through swiping down from the top corner of the screen. Owning to its Linux based nature, everything from the settings app to even the kernel in Android is an application that can be replaced by an alternative, baring limitations added by OEMs to sort of fool-proof their products. The advantage this gives the user, in any case, is customizability, allowing for third-party keyboards, dialers, browsers, and launchers. Launchers are the immediately visible elements of the system UI, including the home screen and apps drawer. Unlike its main competition, Apple’s iOS, Android allows for the installation of third-party applications from any source. This resulted in the rise of alternative sources of applications, like the Amazon Appstore, F-Droid, and others with different policies allowing different and varied selections of applications. The flexibility and freedom that come with Android aren’t without unfortunate consequences, however. One main issue that results from this is the fragmentation that results from different manufacturers having different updating policies and implementing their own modifications to the OS. This leads to some applications not running on some devices, and others not making use of recent features in the OS as quickly as to not limit their potential userbase. Another consequence of both the system’s source code’s availability, it not restricting the installation of apps from alternative sources, and the widespread use of the OS is the sheer number of malicious software created for the platform. Android isn’t inherently less secure than its alternatives, many experts argue the contrary even. It offers advanced security features, such as a permissions system to control what apps can do, sandboxing and more. However, with freedom comes risk, and most users lack the technical knowledge to differentiate between malicious and safe applications.