Sunday, June 12, 2011

Android: The Smartphone OS with Multiple Faces

Many manufacturers have decided to make use of the open-source mobile operating system Android, but everything can change from one Android-operated smartphone to the next: interface, functions, options available. The one thing that stays the same: With an Android-enabled smartphone, you're only a click away from the Internet.

Android is not always the same. About 170 different smartphones run the mobile Relevant Products/Services operating system, but there is no one single standard.

Everything can change from one Android-operated smartphone Relevant Products/Services to the next: interface, functions, options available. The one thing that stays the same: with an Android-enabled smartphone, you're only a click away from the Internet.

Thus, when you're out shopping for an Android phone, keep an eye on the software Relevant Products/Services you're buying as well as the hardware Relevant Products/Services.

A whole host Relevant Products/Services of manufacturers have decided to make use of the open source software, designed under the leadership of Google Relevant Products/Services. HTC, SonyEricsson, Samsung and Motorola have all brought out Android phones. Nonetheless, compared to the iPhone, Android is a latecomer to the game.

Google announced in November 2007 that it would develop an operating system based on the Linux operating system in conjunction with an alliance of 30 technology and mobile phone giants. By that point, Apple had already sold millions of its iPhones.

But, thanks to widespread support Relevant Products/Services, Android phones quickly took off and have, in the meantime, become a true alternative to the iPhone.

The main difference between Apple's iOS and Android lies in the openness of the Google software. Phone manufacturers can use it and alter it as they wish.

"They have the option to come out as individuals," says Dirk Waasen, chief editor of the German technology magazine Connect. Thus, HTC has laid its Sense interface on top of Android, while Garmin and Asus have made a combination of satellite-navigation device Relevant Products/Services and smartphone with their Nuvifone.

For the pure Android system, shoppers have to seek out the Nexus S, produced by Samsung under contract with Google.

Despite the varied interfaces, the functions of all Android phones are similar. The software stands out because of its free navigation tool, integrated as the Maps service Relevant Products/Services starting with version 1.6. Meanwhile, anyone with a smartphone running Android 2.2 can turn the phone into a wi-fi router for other devices.

As an added bonus, Web sites on Android run with the Flash multimedia technology, which isn't available on Apple devices.

One unique feature available starting with version 2.3, according to Google spokesman Stefan Keuchel, is its near-field communication Relevant Products/Services technology, which allows cash-free payments via a mobile.

However, not a lot of manufacturers support the smartphone as a digital wallet yet.

"We have the chicken and the egg problem," says Keuchel.

Even though Google's name isn't stamped on a lot of Android devices, users quickly realized that the Internet giant was behind the system's development.

"Access to Google services is much better than with iPhone," says smartphone expert Waasen. Maps offers an additional direct search for cafes, petrol stations and cash machines. And the company's trademark search window is integrated into the startscreen of most devices.

The developers put a lot of work into the engines of the system too. Upgraded versions don't just run faster, but with greater energy Relevant Products/Services efficiency. The most recent version, 2.3.3, support dual-core processors, like those operating most newer super mobiles.

The smartphone is also becoming a bit of a jack-of-all-trades thanks to the huge selection of apps Relevant Products/Services. According to Google, the Android Market now features about 150,000 applications. True, there are more than 300,000 for Apple's iOS, but Android users can hardly complain about a lack of choices: from silly ringtones to games to office assistants, it's all there.

"The selection grew significantly in the last year, but a lot of apps don't run cleanly yet," says Arno Becker, who develops applications with his company Firma Visionera. Even though Android gives programmers more freedom, that can make things more complicated than with the more regimented iOS system.

Plus, Google doesn't sort through its apps as closely as Apple does.

"Apple puts more of a premium on the apps functioning well," says Waasen.

A typical weakness of an app is the wasteful approach they have to the battery Relevant Products/Services, especially when in satnav mode. Another problem is that resolution and pixel density vary greatly between models, meaning some Android apps don't display well on some smartphones or don't open at all.

"Anyone who wants the biggest selection of apps should buy himself a device with the classic smartphone resolutions of 320X480 or 850X480," advises Becker.

Thanks to the system's openness, a whole legion of Android phones are available, whether they use huge touchscreens or small keyboards, whether for gamers or businessmen, whether for 150 or 600 euros (219 to 875 dollars).

But regardless of what category you want, check what version of the software is installed. Newer versions are most likely to have the newest update installed by the manufacturer, says Waasen, who recommends Android 2.1 and upwards.

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