Android Operating System (OS): Its Evolution and How It Works


Explore the world of the Android Operating System (OS) – a mobile operating system developed by Google for touchscreen devices, cell phones, and tablets. Learn how this OS functions across various devices, its unique user interface, and its evolution since its inception. Discover who owns Android, its origin, open-source nature, Google’s strategic ownership, and involvement. We’ll also delve into the Android vs. Apple iOS rivalry, its legal battles, and the limitations it faces. Get insights into the strengths and challenges of this dynamic OS that powers millions of devices globally.

Definition and How It Works

The Android operating system, owned by Google (GOOGL), has transformed the way we interact with mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. It offers an intuitive touch-based interface, enabling users to engage with their devices through gestures like pinching, swiping, and tapping. But the realm of Android extends beyond handheld devices; it’s integrated into televisions, cars, and wristwatches, each boasting a distinctive user interface.

The genesis of the Android operating system traces back to Android Inc., a Silicon Valley software company that caught Google’s attention and was eventually acquired in 2005. While questions loomed over Google’s motives, the company launched its first Android-powered device in 2008, marking its entry into the mobile market. This set the stage for developers to harness Android technology and create mobile applications available through platforms like Google Play.

Being a Google product, Android devices seamlessly integrate with other Google services, from cloud storage to email platforms and video services. Despite the open-source nature of the Android source code, it’s important to note that devices are often bundled with proprietary software when sold, maintaining a balance between openness and commercial viability.

Android operating system vs. Apple iOS

The emergence of Android as a mobile OS introduced a spirited rivalry with Apple’s iOS. Analogous to the historic “cola wars,” Android and iOS have contended for dominance. Android had the upper hand in Q1 2022, claiming 23.7% of the global market share compared to iOS’s 18%, as per the International Data Corporation. This competitive landscape gave rise to patent-related disputes, including a noteworthy legal battle with Oracle over the use of Java APIs in Android’s development.

Legal triumphs and limitations

In a notable legal milestone, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Google in a lawsuit brought forth by Oracle in 2021. Despite legal hurdles, Android continues to thrive, offering users a viable alternative in the mobile OS landscape. However, it’s not without its limitations. Developers often grapple with intricate coding requirements, favoring Java over Objective-C for user experiences. Users might encounter lower security standards and data breach risks with certain apps on the Android Market. Additionally, Android’s reliance on advertising and its lack of a voice-controlled assistant can deter some users.

The Evolution of Android OS

Over the years, the Android operating system has seen significant evolution and growth. With each new version, Android has introduced improvements in performance, security, and user experience. Some notable milestones in the evolution of Android include:

  • Android 1.0 (2008): The debut version of Android introduced features like Gmail integration, Google Maps, and the Android Market (now Google Play).
  • Android 2.2 (Froyo, 2010): Froyo brought significant speed improvements, Flash support, and the ability to turn your device into a mobile hotspot.
  • Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich, 2011): This version unified the user interface across smartphones and tablets, offering a more cohesive experience.
  • Android 5.0 (Lollipop, 2014): Lollipop introduced the Material Design language, enhancing the visual appeal and usability of Android.
  • Android 6.0 (Marshmallow, 2015): Marshmallow focused on improving battery life, app permissions, and overall device security.
  • Android 8.0 (Oreo, 2017): Oreo introduced picture-in-picture mode, notification channels, and further enhancements to security.
  • Android 9.0 (Pie, 2018): Pie added gesture navigation, adaptive battery management, and Digital Wellbeing tools to help users manage screen time.
  • Android 10 (2019) and Beyond: Subsequent versions like Android 10, 11, and 12 continued to refine the user experience, offer enhanced privacy controls, and support for foldable devices.

The Future of Android

Looking ahead, the Android operating system is expected to remain a dominant force in the mobile landscape. Google continues to invest in research and development, aiming to make Android more secure, versatile, and adaptable to emerging technologies. As 5G networks become widespread and new hardware innovations emerge, Android is poised to leverage these advancements for a better user experience.

Moreover, the Android ecosystem extends beyond smartphones and tablets. It powers smart home devices, IoT gadgets, and even some laptops, showcasing its flexibility and scalability. This expansion into various domains is likely to strengthen Android’s presence in our daily lives.

The Android operating system has come a long way since its inception, offering users a powerful and versatile platform for their mobile and connected devices. Its open-source nature, integration with Google services, and ongoing development ensure that Android will continue to be a major player in the tech industry.

While it faces challenges and competitors, Android’s adaptability and constant evolution position it as a frontrunner in the world of mobile operating systems. As it continues to evolve and expand its reach, Android remains an integral part of our digital lives.

Additional Insights into the Android Operating System

Android app ecosystem

The Android operating system boasts one of the largest and most diverse app ecosystems in the world. Google Play, the official app store for Android, offers millions of apps covering a wide range of categories, from productivity and entertainment to health and gaming. This extensive library of applications caters to the diverse needs and preferences of Android users, allowing them to customize their devices and enhance their mobile experience. Developers from around the globe contribute to this ecosystem, constantly innovating and creating new solutions for Android users.

Customization and personalization

One of Android’s standout features is its high degree of customization and personalization. Unlike some other mobile operating systems, Android allows users to tailor their devices to suit their preferences. From changing the home screen layout and widgets to installing custom launchers and themes, Android users have the flexibility to make their smartphones truly unique. This level of personalization has endeared Android to users who value individuality and creative control over their devices.

Security and updates

Google has been increasingly focused on enhancing the security of the Android platform. With each new version of Android, the company introduces improved security features, including enhanced encryption, biometric authentication, and sandboxing of apps. Moreover, Google Play Protect scans apps for malware and keeps users protected from potential threats.

Another significant development is Project Treble, an initiative aimed at streamlining the Android update process. By separating the Android OS framework from the vendor-specific components, it becomes easier for manufacturers to deliver timely updates to their devices. This addresses a long-standing issue of fragmentation in the Android ecosystem, where devices from different manufacturers often lagged behind in receiving the latest software updates.

Android go edition

In an effort to make Android accessible to users with lower-end hardware and in emerging markets, Google introduced Android Go Edition. This lightweight version of Android is optimized to run smoothly on devices with limited resources, including low RAM and storage capacity. Android Go Edition offers a more efficient user experience, enabling people with budget-friendly smartphones to enjoy the benefits of the Android ecosystem without compromising performance.

Android one program

The Android One program is another initiative aimed at delivering a pure Android experience with timely updates. Devices under the Android One program run stock Android, devoid of manufacturer-specific bloatware and customizations. Google takes the responsibility of providing regular software updates, including security patches and major Android version upgrades. This program caters to users who prioritize a clean and up-to-date Android experience.

Android’s contribution to IoT

Beyond smartphones and tablets, Android plays a significant role in the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem. The Android Things platform allows developers to build IoT devices using the Android framework, enabling seamless integration with other Android devices and services. This extends Android’s versatility to a wide range of smart home devices, wearables, and connected gadgets, contributing to the growth of the IoT landscape.

Challenges of android fragmentation

While Android’s open-source nature promotes innovation and diversity in the ecosystem, it also leads to a degree of fragmentation. The Android platform is used by numerous manufacturers, each with its own hardware configurations, customizations, and update schedules. This fragmentation can result in disparities in the user experience and the availability of the latest software updates. Google’s efforts to mitigate fragmentation have improved the situation, but it remains a challenge for developers and users alike.

Android’s global dominance

Android’s global reach is unparalleled, with a presence in nearly every corner of the world. Its accessibility to a wide range of devices and its availability in numerous languages have made it a dominant force in the mobile operating system market. Android has played a significant role in bridging the digital divide by providing affordable and feature-rich smartphones to users in emerging markets, thereby enabling greater connectivity and access to information.

Sustainability initiatives

Google has initiated sustainability efforts to reduce the environmental impact of Android devices. This includes initiatives to reduce electronic waste through software optimizations, promote recycling, and encourage manufacturers to adopt eco-friendly practices. Android’s influence in the tech industry also positions it to drive positive changes in sustainability and environmental responsibility.


Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.

  • Offers an intuitive touch-based interface
  • Integration with various Google services
  • Open-source nature promotes innovation
  • Bundled with proprietary software on devices
  • Apps might have varying security standards
  • Lacks a voice-controlled assistant

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Android operating system?

The Android operating system, developed and owned by Google, powers a wide range of mobile devices, offering an intuitive touch-based interface.

When was the Android operating system first developed?

The Android operating system was first developed by Android Inc., a software company located in Silicon Valley, before being acquired by Google in 2005.

What sets Android apart from Apple’s iOS?

Android and Apple’s iOS engage in a competitive rivalry for dominance in the mobile OS arena. Android’s open-source nature and integration with Google services distinguish it from iOS.

Key takeaways

  • The Android operating system, developed and owned by Google, offers an intuitive touch-based interface for mobile devices.
  • Android’s open-source nature fuels innovation and development across devices.
  • Integration with various Google services enhances user experience and functionality.
  • Android’s rivalry with Apple’s iOS has shaped the mobile OS landscape.
  • Legal battles, like the one with Oracle, have impacted Android’s trajectory.
  • Android’s limitations include varied app security standards and the absence of a voice-controlled assistant.
View Article Sources
  1. 2018 Honeywell Mobile Computers with Android Operating Systems – CISA
  2. 2020 A detection method for android application security based on TF-IDF and machine learning – NCBI
  3. Android (operating system) – Science