FAQ: Android platform

It was news when we rumoured Motorola was building the next T-Mobile phone running Android; it was news when Panasonic announced its Android phone, and when Samsung announced theirs.


Google's open-source operating system is still only on two handsets (like the HTC Magic, right), but the little-OS-that-could has already been the subject of much iPhone-killer type hype. We try to figure out why.


What is Android?
It's another smartphone operating system like Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, and Palm. Like the iPhone OS, it currently only runs on two phones, with the promise of more to come from other manufacturers.


So why the hype?
A couple reasons - it's Google's first foray into mobile, it's the first operating system whose code has been made open-source, and perhaps most importantly, it has a ton of potential applications in stuff that has nothing to do with phones - it's a viable OS for netbooks, notebooks and in the future, maybe even smart appliances.

What's so great about open-source?
Open-source means the programming code is available for all to see and tinker with - what's great is that it means any developer can create applications for the Android phones. As a result, there are some pretty awesome apps on Android, from the dead useful - GPS and social networking apps for example - to the dead silly - emitting Nintendo sounds when you jump while holding the phone. Our favourite - TippoBilloSplitamus which... you may have guessed, calculates the splitting of bills plus tips.

What's on Android that isn't on other operating systems?

Its openness gets people excited, as well as the fact that almost all its apps are free. Plus, it's made by software king Google - it's incredibly easy and intuitive to use.

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