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What, exactly, is Android?

Toward a More Informed Discussion on Android | TechPinions:

“Android is in no way shape or form the same as OS X, Windows, iOS, Windows Phone, or RIM’s Blackberry OS. When we speak of those operating systems we are speaking of a unified platform controlled by one company whose platform share represents the total addressable market, via single SDK, for developers. Should a developer want to develop for any of those platforms, all they need do is get the SDK for that single platform. Android, however, is an entirely different beast.

Android is not actually a platform, it is an enabling technology that allows companies to create platforms Because Android is open source, all the term Android refers to is the AOSP, or Android Open Source Project. Anyone can take this core code and create their own custom operating system using Android as the core. Google created and manages the AOSP but also has their own version of Android. Amazon does this and has their own version of Android. Barnes and Noble does this and has their own version of Android. I would not be shocked if new entrants as well take the Android platform and make it their own for their own needs as well.”

This is the thing that gets overlooked, all the time. Android is not a single, unified operating platform: it’s a set of semi-compatible platforms, built around the same technology.

Amazon’s version of Android is to Google’s version of Android what FreeBSD is to Ubuntu. You can probably get the same apps to run – but be prepared for some tweaking.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • https://launchpad.net/~jjmartinez Juan

    Well, you’re describing Linux (the kernel) that is used in the form of a distribution.

    Your last analogy is wrong. Ubuntu and FreeBSD have a different kernel/userland; although they share some APIs (ie. POSIX).

    Amazon’s version of Android is to Google’s version of Android what Red Hat is to Ubuntu.

  • http://www.technovia.co.uk Ian Betteridge

    It was an analogy based on the amount of work required to ensure app compatibility, not a technical analysis of the structure of the OS. The amount of work required to ensure that your app works with Amazon/Android rather than Google/Android is sometimes on a par with porting an app from FreeBSD to Ubuntu/Linux, particularly if you factor in ensuring that each app complies with the rules of their respective app stores. Of course, it depends on the app you’re building.