Android is an operating system created for mobile devices, for example, smartphones and tablet computers. It is developed by the Open Handset Alliance, which is led by Google.
Google purchased the company that initially developed the software, Android Inc., on August 17, 2005. The unveiling of the Android distribution on November 5, 2007 was announced with the founding of the Open Handset Alliance - a consortium of 84 hardware, software, and telecommunication companies devoted to advancing open standards for mobile devices. Google released most of the Android code under the Apache License, a free software license. The Android Open Source Project (AOSP) is tasked with the maintenance and further development of Android.
The Android kernel is based on the Linux kernel. In addition to the kernel there are middleware, libraries and APIs written in C, and application software running on an application framework that includes Java-compatible libraries based on Apache Harmony. Android uses the Dalvik virtual machine with just-in-time compilation to run Dalvik dex-code (Dalvik Executable), that is usually translated from Java bytecode.
Android has a large community of developers who write applications ("apps") to extend the functionality of the devices. Developers write primarily in a customized version of Java. As of October 2011 there were more than 300,000 apps available for Android, and the estimated number of applications downloaded from the Android Market as of December 2011 exceeded 10 billion. Apps can be downloaded from third-party sites or through online stores such as Android Market, which is the app store run by Google.
Android was listed as the best-selling smartphone platform worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2010 by Canalys. By November 2011 there were over 200 million Android devices in use around the world, across the several versions of the operating system. There are over 700,000 Android devices activated every day.
January 2012 - Android's Market Share Increases
In January 2012, it was reported that Android's share of the tablet market had jumped at the expense of Apple's iOS. In the final three months of 2011, Android accounted for 39% of the market. This was up from 29% a year earlier. In the same period, Apple's share had fallen to 58% from 68%, with Microsoft's share standing at 1.5%.