The Android platform is described and compared below:
Android 2.3.4 for mobile devices and Android 3.1for tablet devices.
Linux based kernel with core services written in C, C++ and JAVA libraries. It runs on many processor architectures – ARM, MIPS, x86, Power.
Upcoming Android OS code named Ice Cream Sandwich will be converging phone and tablet versions of the OS with single UI across all form factors.
Performance, efficiency and speed are strong points of all Android smart phones.
SDK provides device administration features at system level. Different policies can be enforced like settings password quality, max failed password attempts, password expiration, device lock, data wipe, storage encryption etc.
Android is very user friendly. Support for Multi-touch gestures and Accelerometer, Magnetometer available at par with iPhone, though iPhone is a shade better.
Library based on OpenGL ES 1.0 specs.
It is based on WebKit, supports HTML5, CSS3 Web fonts.
It supports external storage. Flash memory varies from model to model. SQLLite and native data storage mechanisms are available for applications.
SIP API's Allows to add SIP-based internet telephony features. Also supports NFC, a short-range wireless technology.
Has a video Camera, A-GPS, 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth. Accelerometer, Gyroscopes, Magnetometer and Multi-touch display with varying display sizes. Some features are device dependent.
Full multi-tasking applications can be written.
Audio – 3GP, MP3, MP4, MIDI, Wave, Ogg, FLAC(Android 3.1+).
Video – H.263, H.264 AVC and MPEG4 SP, VP8 (Android 2.3.3+).
Flash 10.1 is supported in v2.2 and above.
Tools and Language:
Eclipse IDE, JAVA.
Google offers Android SDK 2.3.4, 3.1 and NDK for developers to write applications. For graphics and rich user interface, OpenGL ES support is available from the SDK and some custom libraries.
SDK offers variety of emulators for developers to test, debug and run the applications during development. In build Unit testing tools.
Operating System offers full control of it to the developer application via number of low level APIs and programming hooks. The programming effort is average compared to other platforms.
Prior knowledge of JAVA is must. Low level programming, however, demands specialized mobile development skills using NDK.
Over 2,00,000 applications available.
However compared to the app stores of other Mobile OS platforms, Android Market has a much higher % of free apps. 25% apps are free on the other app stores – apple, blackberry.
60% apps are free on the Android Market.
Android apps are available over the air via Android Market controlled by Google. Private OTA distribution is possible.
Android has limited device management capabilities. It also supports VPN connections.
Considerable amount of applications – 2,00000 – are available for users to download free or at nominal charge. Wide range of device options is available.
Droid 2, Xperia, Nexus S, Samsung Galaxy etc. About 150+ devices worldwide.
Future: Multiple device options are to be available from number of manufacturers. This is one of Android's biggest accelerators and something Apple will find hard to compete against.
Pros and Cons
Android is an open Mobile OS platform, with lot of emerging features that are needed in today's smart phone. It also enables various touch tone capabilities liked by people on iPhone.
Used for more than 150 devices by various manufacturers.
It is truly a Multi-threaded, multi-processing OS. Developers can build lot of capabilities, which is not possible on the Apple iPhone platform.
The OS contains a lot of emulator UI skins that enables a developer to develop the application for one set of screen sizes and intensity, but easily make it available on other screen sizes, sharpness without any development. This is huge for both manufacturers and developers.
Many OEM's are building net-books / tablets / other mobile devices based on the Google Android platform. Not sure how this ties with the Google Chrome OS.
Android Market is the second most popular application store with more than 2,00,000 applications available for download. 60% of these are free. On other app stores – Apple, Blackberry, about 25% are free.
The Android 3.1 OS is a state of the art mobile OS with features available on standard desktop OS and higher performance. More details available on http://developer.android.com/sdk/android-3.1.html.
Enterprise Security and other device administration features will make organizations to include Google Android in the enterprise. This adoption of Android by enterprises will increase in near future.
The biggest disadvantage of the Android OS is how they will continue to support the various OS / devices going into the future. Also the vision for Android vs. that of Google Chrome in other devices other than mobile phones is not clear.