Android (operating system)

A flat robot head, a bright sea green semicircle with antennas and small holes for eyes.
Android 13 homescreen.png
Android 13 home screen with Pixel Launcher
DeveloperVarious (mostly Google)
Written inJava (UI), C (core), C++ and others
OS familyUnix-like (modified Linux kernel)
Working stateCurrent
Source modelOpen source, freeware (most devices include proprietary components, such as Google Play Services or One UI)
Initial releaseSeptember 23, 2008 (2008-09-23)
Latest releaseAndroid 13 / August 15, 2022 (2022-08-15)
Latest previewAndroid 14: DP1 / February 8, 2023 (2023-02-08)[1]
Marketing targetSmartphones, tablet computers, smart TVs (Android TV), Android Auto and smartwatches (Wear OS)
Available in100+ languages
Update methodOver-the-air
Package managerAPK-based
PlatformsARM64 (previous versions were also compatible with ARMv7, x86-64 and RISC-V unofficially supported via third-party solutions)[2][3]
Kernel typeMonolithic (Linux kernel)
UserlandBionic libc, mksh shell, Toybox as core utilities
user interface
Graphical (multi-touch)
Official Edit this at Wikidata
Support status
Articles in the series
Android version history

Android is a mobile operating system based on a modified version of the Linux kernel and other open-source software, designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Android is developed by a consortium of developers known as the Open Handset Alliance, though its most widely used version is primarily developed by Google. It was unveiled in November 2007, with the first commercial Android device, the HTC Dream, being launched in September 2008.

At its core, the operating system is known as Android Open Source Project (AOSP)[4] and is free and open-source software (FOSS) primarily licensed under the Apache License. However most devices run on the proprietary Android version developed by Google, which ship with additional proprietary closed-source software pre-installed,[5] most notably Google Mobile Services (GMS)[6] which includes core apps such as Google Chrome, the digital distribution platform Google Play, and the associated Google Play Services development platform. While AOSP is free, the "Android" name and logo are trademarks of Google, which imposes standards to restrict the use of Android branding by "uncertified" devices outside their ecosystem.[7][8]

Over 70 percent of smartphones based on Android Open Source Project run Google's ecosystem (which is known simply as Android), some with vendor-customized user interfaces and software suites, such as TouchWiz and later One UI by Samsung and HTC Sense.[9] Competing ecosystems and forks of AOSP include Fire OS (developed by Amazon), ColorOS by OPPO, OriginOS by Vivo, MagicUI by Honor, or custom ROMs such as LineageOS.

The source code has been used to develop variants of Android on a range of other electronics, such as game consoles, digital cameras, portable media players, and PCs, each with a specialized user interface. Some well known derivatives include Android TV for televisions and Wear OS for wearables, both developed by Google. Software packages on Android, which use the APK format, are generally distributed through proprietary application stores like Google Play Store, Amazon Appstore (including for Windows 11), Samsung Galaxy Store, Huawei AppGallery, Cafe Bazaar, and GetJar, or open source platforms like Aptoide or F-Droid.

Android has been the best-selling OS worldwide on smartphones since 2011 and on tablets since 2013. As of May 2021, it had over three billion monthly active users, the largest installed base of any operating system,[10] and as of January 2021, the Google Play Store featured over 3 million apps.[11] Android 13, released on August 15, 2022, is the latest version,[12] and the recently released Android 12.1/12L includes improvements specific to foldable phones, tablets, desktop-sized screens[13] and Chromebooks.

  1. ^ "Release notes". Android Developers. Retrieved February 8, 2023.
  2. ^ García, Érika (September 2021). "Google bans 32-bit apps from Android for good". Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  3. ^ "32-bits is dead: Here's what it means for Android, Apple, and more". Android Authority. June 12, 2021. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  4. ^ Amadeo, Ron (July 21, 2018). "Google's iron grip on Android: Controlling open source by any means necessary". Ars Technica. Retrieved December 31, 2022.
  5. ^ "Is Android Really Open Source? And Does It Even Matter?". MakeUseOf. March 28, 2016.
  6. ^ "Android – Google Mobile Services". Android. Retrieved October 21, 2018. While the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) provides common, device-level functionalities such as email and calling, GMS is not part of AOSP. GMS is only available through a license with Google [..] We ask GMS partners to pass a simple compatibility test and adhere to our compatibility requirements for their Android devices.
  7. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Android Open Source Project. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  8. ^ Simon, Michael (December 26, 2016). "With Cyanogen dead, Google's control over Android is tighter than ever". Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  9. ^ Hughes, Terry (July 28, 2014). "Google and Android Are Not the Same... and That's a Good Thing". App Developer Magazine. Retrieved July 29, 2020.
  10. ^ Cranz, Alex (May 18, 2021). "There are over 3 billion active Android devices". The Verge. Retrieved March 24, 2022.
  11. ^ Cite error: The named reference 3 million apps was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  12. ^ "Android 13 is in AOSP!".
  13. ^ "12L and new Android APIs and tools for large screens". Android Developers Blog. Retrieved November 15, 2021.

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