What is Android?

With all this talk of Android here and elsewhere on the web it is perhaps worth looking at what it is. Especially as it has the potential to very rapidly become one of the biggest gaming platforms.

Android is a Linux based operating system for smart phones championed by Google. It is open source and is developed by the Open Handset Alliance, whose 47 members include nearly all the major organisations in the smartphone industry. Sony Ericsson, Toshiba, LG, Samsung, Motorola, HTC, Garmin, Intel, Nvidia, ARM, Google, eBay, Vodafone, Sprint Nextel, etc etc. So there are more major players behind it than there are behind all the other smartphone standards put together. So it has the makings of becoming a standard.

Android has also been implemented by users on a wide range of devices that it was not installed on by the manufacturer. This includes devices from Nokia, Dell, Asus and Motorola. This is possible because Android is open source. Expect users to implement it on just about every device that they can!

The Android Software Development Kit (SDK ) is available for free download and works on a wide variety of platforms including Windows XP, Vista, Mac OS and Linux.

Android can use touch screens, still & video cameras, accelerometers, GPS and accelerated 3D graphics. It works with most media standards.

The application store is called Android Market. Initially everything was free, but since February 2009 it can handle paid for applications with developers getting 70% and carriers getting 30%.

Android is the new kid on the block when it comes to smartphones. However it already works amazingly well. Just look at an HTC Magic or Samsung i7500 to see just how amazingly well. Android has a very strong potential to end up beating competing smartphone systems from Nokia, Microsoft, Blackberry, Palm and Apple, here’s why:

  • Because it is open source and the SDK is freely available there will be a massive number of people developing for it. So there will very soon be more applications available than for the competitors.
  • Handsets will be available from nearly every handset manufacturer. There will be a huge choice of such devices with different specifications and price points. Android will also be used on netbook devices.
  • With the backing of Google there is already the huge array of Google applications that run on it. These make Android phones immensely useful even before you start downloading applications from other people.

This is exciting and important stuff, everybody involved in the game industry should be watching it very closely indeed.


  1. A good summation of what Android is to be sure.

    I’d just add that as more Android powered devices proliferate developers are complaining about effectively having to write a different version of each application for each successive update of Android and, more importantly, for each successive device and this appears to be a major problem for applications such as games that rely on hardware specific functions: buttons, hardware acceleration and accelerometer for example.

    Perhaps an idea for a future article Bruce?

  2. this info is quite helpful.. 🙂 keep up the work!

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