Android changes the way you use your mobile devices. It lets you put your personal stamp on everything, works on an endless variety of smartphones and tablets, and has one of the largest selections of apps around.
When some people hear the word “Android,” it may trigger visions of intelligent Star Wars robots and epic light sabre fights. While we know R2D2 is pretty cool, he isn’t the droid we’re talking about here. The Google Android operating system (OS) is something completely different, but definitely just as awesome.
The Android OS lets you customize everything about your device – from how you want to arrange your apps on your home pages right down to the theme and appearance of those pages. Android is open source software that allows developers to create thousands of apps designed to enhance your mobile device and your life. It’s available on a wide variety of smartphones and tablets and even has seamless Google integration, handy widgets, and hotspot capabilities.
If you’re still wondering what else Android could possibly offer, read on to learn more about this amazing operating system.
What is Android?
Android is an operating system (OS) used to power mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. It’s free, open source software released by Google and is an alternative to other well known operating systems like Apple iOS and RIM’s BlackBerry OS.
The beauty of being open source is that Android is completely customizable – you’re in charge of how you want your smartphone or tablet experience to be. From apps to calendars to backgrounds, you can put your personal stamp on pretty much everything so what you get is a mobile device that you can truly call your own.
What are Apps?
Apps are mobile software applications designed to run on your smartphone or tablet. These mini programs live on your home screen and take advantage of all the features of your device like the camera, GPS, speakers, and wireless capabilities in order to provide enhanced functionality. There are apps for almost anything you can imagine: games, social networking, productivity, health, entertainment, and so much more.
Some Android apps come built into your mobile device and others can be downloaded from the Google Play Store (once known as the Android Market). Thanks to Android being open source, anyone can create an Android app and put it up for download. This means that there’s a huge variety of apps available that are developed by a wide range of developers.
You’ll find over 450,000 apps currently available for Android devices. Some are completely free to download and some you have to pay for. In addition to the Google Play Store, there are a number of third party resources on the Internet that you can download Android apps from. However, as with anything downloaded from the Internet, take some time to figure out which sources are safe to get your apps from so you can ensure that you’re getting the best experience possible from your Android-powered device.
The Android Advantage
The Android OS has tons of cutting edge features that would make it an invaluable tool in any super spy’s gadget arsenal. But when these features are also easy enough for anyone to use, you get to feel like a secret government agent, too. Check out how Android can make your life – and secret career – even better.
Have it Your Way
You already know that you can customize the home screen, appearance, menus and more to your heart’s content, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With Android, you can even customize how your smartphone handles unwanted – and wanted – calls. Set the LED indicators so you know whether mom, your boss, or your naggy neighbour is calling. It even makes getting organized easier. For example, you can create shortcuts and folders that organize your favourite apps, contacts, or e-mails together for speedier access. There’s virtually no limit to what you can do with Android.
Windows to Your World
Widgets are micro programs that give you at-a-glance information from apps you frequently access, like Facebook and e-mail. Think of apps as the world outside and widgets as the window you see the world through. When something happens in an app – whether it’s a status update, new e-mail, marriage proposal or calendar alert, you can see it right on your home screen without having to launch the full app.
Android OS is seamlessly integrated with your Google account and all your favourite Google functions. Quickly access your notes on Google docs, use Google Translate to wish your Persian friend happy birthday in Farsi, and easily navigate your way to the party with Google Maps.
When you’re on the go, finding a Wi-Fi hotspot can be as challenging as trying to drink a glass of water while standing on your head. With Android you can stop bending over backwards for Wi-Fi since smartphones powered by Android 2.2 OS or higher can create a mobile hotspost almost instantly, providing laptops, tablets, and other devices with a solid Internet connection.
Android isn’t all good looks – it’s got some serious smarts packed into it, too. Android Beam is a way of sharing pictures, videos, and music between Android devices simply by placing your devices next to each other. Or maybe you’re really concerned about your smartphone’s security. This OS uses face recognition to unlock your phone with your smile so you don’t have to remember long, complicated passwords.
There’s a lot you can do with the Android OS and with each new version update, you get smarter and handier technologies integrated into this operating system.
Food for Thought
You may often hear names of food associated with the Android OS. No, you’re not getting a free dessert sent to you every time you update your OS, so you can rest easy about needing to go for a 10k run before said dessert arrives.
While they may sound extremely delicious, these foods are actually nicknames for each new version of Android OS. For example, Cupcake refers to version 1.5 and Ice Cream Sandwich refers to version 4.0. There are a wide variety of Android smartphones and Android tablets available and each of them may run on a different version of Android OS. Before you take one home with you, be sure to check if your mobile device is running the version you want.
Android Compatible Devices
Did we mention that Google provides Android’s program code free for download online? Yes, the Internet, where anyone can download it. This also means leading manufacturers like Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony Ericsson, and more are able to put Android on a wide range of mobile devices. With so many styles, sizes, and colours of Android tablets and Android phones, you have the freedom to choose the provider and hardware you want.
Some things you’ll want to consider before you purchase a tablet or smartphone are its internal processor, network connectivity, camera quality, battery life, screen size, and the general look and feel of the device. Some devices may also come with the manufacturer’s branded apps to give you an even more unique experience.
Take the Next Step
From exciting customization options to tons of spy-worthy features, the Android OS has a lot of awesome things going for it. With so many great Android smartphones and Android tablets from leading manufacturers to offer, you’ll find the right Android-powered mobile device at Best Buy in no time.
And if you decide to pick up an Android tablet, be sure to check out our Android Tablet Guide for some great tips on getting started using your new device!