First and foremost, Android is Google’s answer to a mobile operating system. A mobile operating system is simply any software that a cell phone runs on. Two other notable mobile operating systems are Apple’s OS 3.0 software which is the software base of the iPhone, and Palm’s operating system 5.4.9 which is the software base of several Palm phones. Android is considered to be more of an "open source" typed software compared to Apple and Palm. This simply means that the Android OS will be more versatile. For example, the Apple OS can only run on Apple phones, the Palm OS can only run on Palm devices, but Android will work with a variety of phone manufacturers such as HTC, LG, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, etc…
The Android operating system runs on a Linux Kernel environment. This information is not really relevant for a cell phone shopper, looking to buy an Android phone. However, it is relevant for software gurus and developers. Currently, the Android operating system runs a display driver, keypad driver, camera driver, WiFi driver, flash memory driver, audio driver, PC driver, and power management driver, all through Linux.
The second major function of Google Android is applications. For the Android cell phone user, this means more applications available for use. Things such as games, utilities, tools, etc… will all be usable on Android enabled cell phones. There are both free and paid applications, which can be purchased in the Android marketplace. Android apps are delivered in a similar fashion to iPhone Apps. A user can download apps online and through their cell phones.
Android developers are the people that make it possible for Android users to have things such as games, music, and tools on their Android enabled phones. For the Android developer, there are constantly new frameworks being released. The current developer framework includes: activity manager, window manager, content providers, system view, package manager, telephony manager, resource manager, location manager, and notification manager. Because Android is an "open source" type of phone, it should also draw more developers than Apple and Palm. This should make it possible for a wide-variety of Android apps in the future.