DEFINITION of 'Android Operating System'

The Android operating system is a mobile operating system developed by Google (GOOGL​) primarily for touchscreen devices, cell phones, and tablets. Its design allows users to manipulate mobile devices intuitively, with phone interactions that mirror common motions, such as pinching, swiping, and tapping. In addition to mobile devices, Google employs Android software in televisions, cars, and wristwatches, each fitted with unique user interfaces. 

BREAKING DOWN 'Android Operating System'

The Android operating system was first developed by Android, Inc., a software company located in Silicon Valley before Google acquired it in 2005. Investors and the electronics industry have questioned Google’s intentions in the mobile market since the acquisition. Soon thereafter, the company announced the operating system in 2007, with the first Android-powered device reaching the marketplace in 2008.

Software and application developers can use Android to develop mobile apps, which are sold through app stores, such as Google Play.

Because it is developed as a Google product, Android users are given the opportunity to link their mobile device to other Google products, such as cloud storage, email, and video services.

The Android source code is released in an open source format to help advance open standards across mobile devices. Despite being released as “open,” Android is still packaged with proprietary software when sold on handset devices.

The emergence of Android created a new rivalry between smartphone manufacturers, with Apple (AAPL) serving as Google's chief competitor. To some, this rivals the “cola wars” between Coca-Cola (KO) and Pepsi (PEP) over the past 30 years, where no clear loser has emerged. As of early 2017, Android was the most popular operating system for use on mobile devices, with over two billion active users.

The increased popularity of the system also led to a number of patent-related lawsuits, the latest coming from Oracle (ORCL), which claims Google unlawfully used Java APIs in developing Android software.

Drawbacks of Android Operating System

While Android offers users a viable alternative to other mobile operating systems, several limitations still remain. On the developer side, coding complex user experiences and interfaces are often more difficult and demand a greater reliance on Java than Objective-C. For users, the apps on the Android Market tend to have lower standards than comparable app stores. In other words, the apps have lower security profiles and make users more susceptible to a data breach. Meanwhile, Android's lack of voice-controlled assistant and dependence on advertising can be intrusive for some users.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Digital Wallet

    A digital wallet is a system that securely stores users' payment ...
  2. Mobile Wallet

    A mobile wallet is a virtual wallet that stores payment card ...
  3. Google Blogger

    Google Blogger is a free, easy-to-use publishing platform run ...
  4. Open Source

    Open source refers to a program with source code that can be ...
  5. Mobile Health

    Mobile health, or mHealth, refers to the use of mobile technology ...
  6. Apple Pay (AAPL, GOOG)

    Apple Pay is a payment system that allows users to pay for products ...
Related Articles
  1. Investing

    Google Leaps Ahead With Motorola Patents

    Google is positioning itself to capture a bigger chunk of the market. Find out how.
  2. Tech

    Google To Launch New Smartphones On Oct 4

    Google is expected to launch a new smartphone at its San Francisco event on October 4. That new phone will feature an upgraded camera and faster processor.
  3. Investing

    Another Android Case Filed Against Google in EU

    The Open Internet Project's case is similar to the one filed earlier by the EU's antitrust authorities.
  4. Insights

    Google Faces Billions in EU Fines (GOOG)

    Google could face up to $7.4 billion in fines after EU findings that it forced smartphone makers to pre-install its apps and search engine.
  5. Investing

    Google to Be Fined $5B by EU Antitrust Body: Report

    The tech giant could also be prohibited from imposing app-installation deals on makers of android devices.
  6. Investing

    Oracle Opts to Continue Legal Battle Over Android

    After nearly a year, Oracle (NYSE: ORCL) has decided to follow through on its promise to continue its patent infringement case against Android king Alphabet. Oracle asserted Android unlawfully ...
  7. Small Business

    Samsung and Google: A Beautiful Friendship?

    Google and Samsung have more than a hardware/software relationship. These two technology giants have collaborated time and again to define mobile's future.
  8. Insights

    Mobile Payments in 2015: When Will Cash Be Obsolete?

    A wave of new mobile payment technology is setting the stage for a revolution in how we buy in stores.
  9. Investing

    How Google Is Tapping India's Smartphone Market

    Understand why India's smartphone market is in a rapid growth phase. Learn how Google and other technology companies are capitalizing.
  10. Insights

    Could An Antitrust Investigation Destroy Google?

    The European Commission is investigating Google's practices to see if the company is not playing fair. Investors should watch for any potential impact.
RELATED FAQS
  1. Who are Google's (GOOG) main competitors?

    Explore Google's different revenue segments and its competitors in each, ranging from Microsoft and Yahoo to Moody's Investor ... Read Answer >>
  2. What strategies do companies use to regain market share they have lost?

    Learn about the three simplest ways companies can regain lost market share: pricing changes, promotional changes and product ... Read Answer >>
  3. How do Internet companies profit if they give away their services for free?

    Learn how companies in the Internet sector make a profit when service, content and user applications are offered at no cost ... Read Answer >>
  4. Is Apple Pay safe and free?

    Learn more about Apple Pay, one of Apple's newest and most metamorphic programs that is changing the way consumers purchase ... Read Answer >>
  5. 3 Tips to Refinance a Mobile Home Loan

    Refinancing a mobile home loan is possible if the borrower meets certain criteria. Here are a handful of useful tips on refinancing ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center