Android is a software stack for mobile devices that includes an operating system, middleware and key applications. Google Inc. purchased the initial developer of the software, Android Inc., in 2005.
Android’s mobile operating system is based on the Linux kernel. Google and other members of the Open Handset Alliance collaborated on Android’s development and release.
The Android Open Source Project (AOSP) is tasked with the maintenance and further development of Android.
Android was listed as the best-selling Smartphone platform world-wide in Q4 2010 by Canalys.
Android has a large community of developers writing applications (“apps”) that extend the functionality of the devices. There are currently more than 250,000 apps available for Android. Android Market is the online app store run by Google, though apps can also be downloaded from third-party sites. Developers write primarily in the Java language, controlling the device via Google-developed Java libraries.
The unveiling of the Android distribution on 5 November 2007 was announced with the founding of the Open Handset Alliance, a consortium of 80 hardware, software, and telecom companies devoted to advancing open standards for mobile devices. Google released most of the Android code under the Apache License, a free software and open source license.
The Android open-source software stack consists of Java applications running on a Java-based, object-oriented application framework on top of Java core libraries running on a Dalvik virtual machine featuring JIT compilation. Libraries written in C include the surface manager, OpenCore media framework, SQLite relational database management system, OpenGL ES 2.0 3D graphics API, WebKit layout engine, SGL graphics engine, SSL, and Bionic libc.