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What is an Android phone?

Android in the Philippines is gaining ground. This week people have asked me — What is Android? I have also observed that more young people are using mobile phones that have Android on it. So on this post, I decided to explain as simple as I can what Android is so that if someone asks me again, I can just point to this post and let them read and discover for themselves.

I have to admit, the Philippines is still a major Nokia country. You see them everywhere. I for one also use a Nokia mobile phone. I am still a fan of Nokia because they produce high quality cellphones. What happened to me is another worth another post altogether, but for now let’s concentrate on Android.

What is a mobile phone

Before I can really explain what Android is, let’s examine first what mobile phone. A mobile phone is a communications device. It’s basically something you use to make/receive voice calls and send/receive text messages or SMS.

The mobile phone can be divided into two parts — one called the hardware or electronics part which is something physically manufactured.

The other part is called software (in this case the “mobile phone operating system”) which in a sense is a big bunch of commands that are made to work together to make the mobile phone work. One part of the software or mobile phone operating system is the set of commands that controls the electronic hardware on your mobile phone to let you make a phone call.

Android the mobile phone operating system software

Android is the core software or operating system of the mobile phone (actually it also runs on other mobile devices like tablets). Android is to a mobile phone, as for example Microsoft Windows is to a desktop computer.

In older generation mobile phones, it’s very hard to install software that will allow your mobile phone to do other things besides making calls and texting.

Google, the creator of Android, decided to create a general purpose software that can be used on mobile phones so that users can start enjoying the powerful new phones available in the market today.

Android has made it possible for mobile phones to become powerful computers that can be used to play games, run programs (applications or apps, more on this later), take pictures and video, find your location on maps, and now steadily gaining ground — make payments with it.

These programs, interchangeably called “apps”, provide the mobile phone user with functionality that previously is only available on desktop computers or notebooks.

Apps/Games and the Android Market

These apps have become easily available to the Android mobile phone user via the Android Market. The Android Market is simply an online store for mobile phone apps that you can buy and install on the Android phone.

These mobile apps and games have increased the value of our mobile phones. These new generation of mobile phones, like the Android phone, have become computer that is at the same time a phone.

There are lots of apps available at the Android Market. For example, there are apps that help you handle calls and text messages much like an answering machine does. There are also apps for shopping, creating todo lists, video games, creating and viewing documents. There are even apps that let you measure your heart rate.

Android has provided a sort of generic and general purpose core software for phones that have allowed users to use their cellphones is a variety of ways — not just for calling and sending text messages.

Mobile apps created by Google

To make mobile phones that uses Android even more powerful, Google created a whole bunch of apps that runs on top of Android. These apps include Gmail (for email), Gtalk (for instant messaging), Google Maps (for navigation), Google reader (for reading blogs and news) and a lot more. You can discover and try them by installing it on an Android phone via the Android Market — they are all free.

Android for a wide selection of mobile devices

The other thing that makes Android powerful is that it’s available for a wide range of mobile phones from different manufacturers. Phone makers like HTC, Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and LG all manufacture Android phones.

Electronic devices that use Android are not limited to mobile phones. For example, Acer sells computer tablets that is based on Android.

As Google’s Android software becomes increasingly adapted, it will be available in even more devices. There are already Android based devices available from local companies like Cherry Mobile and Torque. Soon it will become as ubiquitous to mobile phones and tablets.

Gerry Ilagan

Gerry Ilagan is into mobile apps and WordPress development at @speeqs. He loves to write about electronics, the Internet of Things, mobile phones, and #crazyideas.

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