The Android™ operating system (OS) is an open platform developed by Google® to power mobile devices and handsets. The idea behind the platform is to align technology companies with mobile companies to produce an open operating system that can be updated by any developer to improve the product for its users.
The development of this operating system takes place through the use of a software development kit (SDK) provided by Google®. Developers can use this kit to create applications that work with the Android™ platform to bring other applications in addition to those included with the Android™ operating system itself. The SDK includes an emulator that will help developers test their applications on the OS. The OS is also built under the concept that each application is just as good as the applications that are included.
Developers looking to create mobile experiences using the Android™ operating system can do so using a standard Application Programming Interface (API) allowing them to use a series of procedure calls to access common elements within the platform. The API will also allow items stored within the mobile environment, like contacts and appointments, to integrate with web services like online calendar and email services.
Applications created to run on this operating system are written using the Java programming language and will run on a custom developed virtual machine environment running on top of a Linux® kernel. This will allow the base of the platform to run an operating system based on Linux® and keep a small footprint on the device, the virtual machine that will run the OS itself helps to separate the applications from the core OS and can improve the stability of the device.
It will be interesting to see which devices and carriers choose to support the Android™ operating system. This relatively new and very open platform could completely change the way mobile phones and other devices are used and what services are available for them. The fact that development is open to any who wish to attempt it, will also allow those with the need to create custom applications for a mobile device to do so without requiring the purchase of special software and other items, which can sometimes be difficult to obtain.