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What is Google Android? Features of Android

written by: theninjapeanuts•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 7/6/2011

We all know what Google Android is. But what can it do? In this article, we'll take a look at the main features that make Android so special.

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    What is Google Android?

    Google Android is an open-source operating system and software platform, specifically for mobile devices. Developers can modify the software with their own code or Google's Java libraries.

    In plain English, Android is a free software platform/operating system you can use on your mobile phone, kinda like using a Mac instead of a Windows. Developers (or nerdies, as I like to call 'em) can tinker around with the code and change it to their taste. They do this by writing their own code in Java. If they're feeling particularly rebellious, they can do that with C instead. This works, but isn't “officially” supported by Google.

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    Features of Android

    Now you know what it is. But what can it do? Here's a list of Android's handiest features:

    • Handset layouts

    Android can adapt to traditional smartphone layouts, as well other VGA, 2D, and 3D graphics libraries.

    • Storage

    Android uses SQLite to store all its junk-- I mean, information.

    • Connectivity

    Android supports a wide variety of technologies, including Bluetooth, WiFi, GSM/EDGE, and EV-DO.

    • Messaging

    MMS and SMS are available for Android, as well as threaded text messaging. So you can send as many texties as you like.

    • Web Browser

    Android comes pre-loaded with the WebKit application. Remember, if you don't like it, you can always switch it out for something else later on thanks to the open source nature of the Google Android backend.

    • Java Virtual Machine

    Software you write in Java can be compiled in Dalvik Bytecodes (say that five times fast. I keep ending up with "Danish lightbulb".) These can then be put into a Dalvik Virtual Machine. Basically more robust applications are supported than on some other Mobile Operating Systems.

    • Media Support

    Android supports a wide range of audio, video, media, and still formats. MPEG-4, OGG, and AAC are just a few of these. Unfortunately the Media Player as its known right now is pretty basic, although more robust offerings on are the horizon from 3rd Party developers.

    • Additional Hardware Support

    Got a touchscreen you want to put to its full use? No problem. Android is capable of utilizing outside hardware like GPS, accelerometers, and all that other fun stuff.

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    How can I add all this to my phone?

    Before you can start customizing Android features to what suits you, you have to know how Android works. Android's internal structure is complicated in its build, yet so easy anyone can learn to use it and customize it to their own needs. We'll take a look at that in the next article.

    What's important to remember is that Google Android supports the main functions found on Windows Mobile, Symbian and other Mobile Operating Systems, while at the same time utilizing a completely open source program structure that makes customization easier than ever.

Google Android in Plain English

Understand the basic, and not so basic, functions and features of Google Android with this series of articles explaining the G1 platform it in simple terms. Google Android made easy!
  1. What is Google Android? Features of Android
  2. Google Android's Internal Structure in Plain English
  3. History of Android: First Applications, Prototypes & Other Events