What is Android:
Android is a Linux based operating system that has been initially developed to run on mobile phones. Keeping in mind many challenges faced by mobile phones, such as a limited battery, on-device memory, and processing power, the Android OS has been aiming at optimizing many of its core features so as to tackle these limitations. And it has been successful in doing so. Today, Android does not just run on mobile phones but also on a wide range of devices such as watches, TVs, automobiles and many more. Android is also the most widely used mobile operating system across the globe. More than 2 Billion devices now run Android. There are 2.6 Million apps active on PlayStore and many more under development. One day, I hope your app adds to that 2.6 Million too!
Android was originally developed by Android Inc. The people behind the project were Andy Rubin, Chris White, Rich Miner, and Nick Sears. In 2005, Google had purchased Android Inc and released first version of Android OS in 2007. Today, Android is owned by Open Handset Alliance (OHA), an entity led by Google. OHA is nothing but a group of electronic device manufacturing companies such as Sony, HTC, Samsung and many more who adopt Android on their devices. The group is led by Google, which simply means that all the major development and updates of Android are taken care by Google.
Members of OHA are free to develop their own implementations of Android User Interface (UI). Here are few examples of such custom Android UI implementations. Samsung uses One UI, Oneplus uses Oxygen OS & Hydrogen OS (exclusively in China), and HTC uses HTC Sense. Although the UI implementations are different resulting in different look and feel on different devices, the core of all the devices is Android OS. For example, Messages app might look 3 different ways on Samsung, Oneplus, and HTC but when you tap the app icon, the entire background work of allocating resources, creating and running a process, and many other low level tasks are handled by the big boss – Android.
In 2007, when the first version of Android was declared, it was named Cupcake. Since then till today, many stable versions have been released with each version becoming better than its predecessor. Android uses peculiar way of naming its versions on sweet foods in alphabetical order than just numbers. Starting with Cupcake today’s latest Android is named after Pie.
Cupcake | Donut | Eclair | Froyo | Gingerbread | Honeycomb | Ice cream Sandwich |Jelly bean | Kitkat | Lollipop | Marshmallow | Nougat | Oreo | Pie | Q?
Android Pie, released in 2018 is a much smarter, more efficient and simpler than all its previous versions. Google has been restlessly doing research works in Artificial Intelligence and its sub fields such as Machine Learning and Deep Learning. Finally, they have incorporated many AI powered features in Android Pie. On device machine learning is the most powerful and intelligent feature Android Pie comes with. Google claims that, devices using Android Pie are now much smarter and can learn from user’s daily activities, choices and preferences.
- Android Pie can analyse how much time user spends on mobile device and which apps the user is most engaged in. It allows users to set timer for app usage after which user is reminded to close the app. The app icon is then greyed out (but you can open it anyway) to remind the user about excess usage.
- Android Pie can learn which apps are mostly used and also what actions are mostly taken in those specific apps and as a result can display these actions on the go. For example, if you call John most frequently from your phone, using on-device ML the device displays the action on the go. With just a single tap, you can call John without even opening Phone app.
- Do Not Disturb mode not only silents your phone audibly but also visually. When in DND the notifications do not show up on the screen. This is much less deviating than the previous versions where DND only stops notification sounds but not the notifications itself. The best of all, you can flip your phone over the table, and the device automatically goes into DND until you flip it back again!
- On device ML can learn which apps are most important for you and adjust the app battery usage accordingly. For example, if you have a heavy app that consumes a lot of battery but you don’t really use it that frequently. Android Pie can now make sure that app uses as less power as possible. This results in longer battery life.
These are only a few features of the Android Pie. There are many more like these. The point here is that Android has now become much more user friendly and much more powerful than ever before and it will continue to grow. We can expect Google to incorporate more AI based features in the upcoming Android Q which should be released in 2019 after Google IO 2019. I am curious about Android Q. Q for…? Let us wait and see!
This post is meant to give a brief overview of the Android OS and its growth. In the upcoming posts, I will write more about Android app development starting from very basics. Expecting to see you next week in the post on Android Architecture. Until then…
Happy Tech Exploring!