Monday, March 21, 2011

What is Android(operating system)?

What is Android?

Android is a software stack for mobile devices that includes an operating system, middleware and key applications. The Android SDK provides the tools and APIs necessary to begin developing applications on the Android platform using the Java programming language.

Features

  • Application framework enabling reuse and replacement of components
  • Dalvik virtual machine optimized for mobile devices
  • Integrated browser based on the open source WebKit engine
  • Optimized graphics powered by a custom 2D graphics library; 3D graphics based on the OpenGL ES 1.0 specification (hardware acceleration optional)
  • SQLite for structured data storage
  • Media support for common audio, video, and still image formats (MPEG4, H.264, MP3, AAC, AMR, JPG, PNG, GIF)
  • GSM Telephony (hardware dependent)
  • Bluetooth, EDGE, 3G, and WiFi (hardware dependent)
  • Camera, GPS, compass, and accelerometer (hardware dependent)
  • Rich development environment including a device emulator, tools for debugging, memory and performance profiling, and a plugin for the Eclipse IDE

Android Architecture

The following diagram shows the major components of the Android operating system. Each section is described in more detail below.
Android System Architecture

Applications

Android will ship with a set of core applications including an email client, SMS program, calendar, maps, browser, contacts, and others. All applications are written using the Java programming language.

Application Framework

By providing an open development platform, Android offers developers the ability to build extremely rich and innovative applications. Developers are free to take advantage of the device hardware, access location information, run background services, set alarms, add notifications to the status bar, and much, much more.
Developers have full access to the same framework APIs used by the core applications. The application architecture is designed to simplify the reuse of components; any application can publish its capabilities and any other application may then make use of those capabilities (subject to security constraints enforced by the framework). This same mechanism allows components to be replaced by the user.
Underlying all applications is a set of services and systems, including:
  • A rich and extensible set of Views that can be used to build an application, including lists, grids, text boxes, buttons, and even an embeddable web browser
  • Content Providers that enable applications to access data from other applications (such as Contacts), or to share their own data
  • A Resource Manager, providing access to non-code resources such as localized strings, graphics, and layout files
  • A Notification Manager that enables all applications to display custom alerts in the status bar
  • An Activity Manager that manages the lifecycle of applications and provides a common navigation backstack

Libraries

Android includes a set of C/C++ libraries used by various components of the Android system. These capabilities are exposed to developers through the Android application framework. Some of the core libraries are listed below:
  • System C library - a BSD-derived implementation of the standard C system library (libc), tuned for embedded Linux-based devices
  • Media Libraries - based on PacketVideo's OpenCORE; the libraries support playback and recording of many popular audio and video formats, as well as static image files, including MPEG4, H.264, MP3, AAC, AMR, JPG, and PNG
  • Surface Manager - manages access to the display subsystem and seamlessly composites 2D and 3D graphic layers from multiple applications
  • LibWebCore - a modern web browser engine which powers both the Android browser and an embeddable web view
  • SGL - the underlying 2D graphics engine
  • 3D libraries - an implementation based on OpenGL ES 1.0 APIs; the libraries use either hardware 3D acceleration (where available) or the included, highly optimized 3D software rasterizer
  • FreeType - bitmap and vector font rendering
  • SQLite - a powerful and lightweight relational database engine available to all applications

Android Runtime

Android includes a set of core libraries that provides most of the functionality available in the core libraries of the Java programming language.
Every Android application runs in its own process, with its own instance of the Dalvik virtual machine. Dalvik has been written so that a device can run multiple VMs efficiently. The Dalvik VM executes files in the Dalvik Executable (.dex) format which is optimized for minimal memory footprint. The VM is register-based, and runs classes compiled by a Java language compiler that have been transformed into the .dex format by the included "dx" tool.
The Dalvik VM relies on the Linux kernel for underlying functionality such as threading and low-level memory management.

Linux Kernel

Android relies on Linux version 2.6 for core system services such as security, memory management, process management, network stack, and driver model. The kernel also acts as an abstraction layer between the hardware and the rest of the software stack.

Linux compatibility

Android's kernel was derived from Linux but has been tweaked by Google outside the main Linux kernel tree. Android does not have a native X Window System nor does it support the full set of standard GNU libraries, and this makes it difficult to port existing GNU/Linux applications or libraries to Android. However, support for the X Window System is possible. Google no longer maintains the code they previously contributed to the Linux kernel as part of their Android effort, creating a separate version or fork of Linux. This was due to a disagreement about new features Google felt were necessary (some related to security of mobile applications). The code which is no longer maintained was deleted in January 2010 from the Linux codebase.
Google announced in April 2010 that they will hire two employees to work with the Linux kernel community.
However, as of January 2011, points of contention still exist between Google and the Linux kernel team: Google tried to push upstream some Android-specific power management code in 2009, which is still rejected today.
Furthermore, Greg Kroah-Hartman, the current Linux kernel maintainer for the -stable branch, said in December 2010 that he was concerned that Google was no longer trying to get their code changes included in mainstream Linux. Some Google Android developers hinted that "the Android team was getting fed up with the process," because they were a small team and had more urgent work to do on Android.

Android SDK

Here's an overview of the steps you must follow to set up the Android SDK:
  1. Prepare your development computer and ensure it meets the system requirements.
  2. Install the SDK starter package from the table above. (If you're on Windows, download the installer for help with the initial setup.)
  3. Install the ADT Plugin for Eclipse (if you'll be developing in Eclipse).
  4. Add Android platforms and other components to your SDK.
  5. Explore the contents of the Android SDK (optional).

Version history

Android has seen a number of updates since its original release. These updates to the base operating system typically focus on fixing bugs as well as adding new features. Generally each new version of the Android operating system is developed under a code name based on a dessert item.
The most recent released versions of Android are:
  • 2.0/2.1 (Eclair), which revamped the user interface and introduced HTML5 and Exchange ActiveSync 2.5 support
  • 2.2 (Froyo), which introduced speed improvements with JIT optimization and the Chrome V8 JavaScript engine, and added Wi-Fi hotspot tethering and Adobe Flash support
  • 2.3 (Gingerbread), which refined the user interface, improved the soft keyboard and copy/paste features, and added support for Near Field Communication
  • 3.0 (Honeycomb), a tablet-oriented release which supports larger screen devices and introduces many new user interface features, and supports multicore processors and hardware acceleration for graphics. The Honeycomb SDK has been released and the first device featuring this version, the Motorola Xoom tablet, went on sale in February 2011.
The upcoming version of Android is:
Ice-cream sandwich, a combination of Gingerbread and Honeycomb into a "cohesive whole," with a possible release in mid-2011

Usage share




Data collected during two weeks ending on March 15, 2011
Platform API Level Distribution
Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) 11 0.2%
Android 2.3.3 (Gingerbread) 10 1.0%
Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) 9 0.7%
Android 2.2 (Froyo) 8 61.3%
Android 2.1 (Eclair) 7 29.0%
Android 1.6 (Donut) 4 4.8%
Android 1.5 (Cupcake) 3 3.0%








Logos

The Android logo was designed with the Droid font family made by Ascender Corporation.
Android Green is the color of the Android Robot that represents the Android operating system. The print color is PMS 376C and the RGB color value in hexadecimal is #A4C639, as specified by the Android Brand Guidelines.


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