Android OS


What is Android?

Android is the operating system that controls phones, tablets and many other devices. An operating system is the core of the device and helps applications communicate with various hardware components. It also provides a uniform user-interface to allow you to interact with the device and applications that run on the device.

android logo

The Android Logo

Where did it come from?

Android was the development of Android Inc., started in 2003 in Palo Alto, California. In 2005 Google, acquired Android, Inc. and the development team behind Android. While the core of Android is based on Linux, considerable efforts were made to deliver a robust, secure mobile platform sensitive to the low power requirements in this market.

The Android OS was officially announced at the end of 2007 and in 2008 Google made Android available under an open source code license. This means manufacturers and carriers can use and modify Android without a licensing payment, making a lower cost and more flexible solution for many companies.

Current Hardware Support

Android handles a wide range of hardware components including cameras, multi-touch screens, GPS, accelerated 2D and 3D graphics, Bluetooth, WiMax, near-field-communications (NFC), many carrier network standards, storage, and multi-core CPUs. Android also has built in support for a wide range of sensors including accelerometers, gyroscopes, ambient light, magnetometers, proximity, pressure (i.e. barometers) and thermometers.

Primary Android Features

Android offers a wide range of features, which some may be enabled/disabled by the device manufacturer, depending on the product and target market. Some of these key features include:

  • Multitasking of applications
  • Voice based Google search
  • Voice based calling, texting, navigation and other operations (v2.2+)
  • Video Calling through Google Talk (v3.0+)
  • Browser supports Adobe Flash with plug-in (v2.2+)
  • SQLite relational database
  • Text messaging (SMS and MMS)
  • Streaming Media (many formats)
  • Wide range of multimedia formats (see below)

Android Media Formats

These are the standard formats that are normally supported by all Android devices unless otherwise noted. Manufacturers may include additional formats, and often fail to state all the supported formats. In some cases, the formats don't apply, such as video formats to a MP3 player. Check with the specific Android device for the maximum supported video frame rates and resolutions.


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File Extensions
H.263 Encode/Decode   .3gp, .mp4
H.264 AVC Encode30/Decode Baseline Profile (BP) .3gp, .mp4
MPEG-4 SP Decode   .3gp
VP8 Decode23   .webm, .mkv40
23: Android version 2.3.3+; 30: Android version 3.0+; 40: Android 4.0+

Photos and Images

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File Extensions
BMP Decode   .bmp
GIF Decode   .gif
JPEG Encode/Decode Base and Progressive .jpg
PNG Encode/Decode   .png
WEBP Encode40/Decode40   .webp

40: Android version 4.0+


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File Extensions
AAC LC/LTP Encode/Decode Mono/Stereo content in any combination of standard bit rates up to 160 kbps and sampling rates from 8 to 48kHz (no raw AAC support, .aac) .3gp, .mp4, .m4a, .acc
ACC+ (HE-AACv1) Encode41/Decode
ACC+ Enhanced (HE-AACv2) Decode
AAC ELD (enhanced low delay AAC) Encode41/Decode41 Support for mono/stereo content with standard sampling rates from 16 to 48 kHz
AMR-NB Encode/Decode 4.75 to 12.2 kbps sampled at 8 kHz .3gp
AMR-WB Encode/Decode 9 rates from 6.60 kbps to 23.85 kbps sampled at 16 kHz .3gp
FLAC Decode31 Mono/Stereo (no multichannel). Sample rates up to 48 kHz (but up to 44.1 kHz is recommended on devices with 44.1 kHz output) .flac
MP3 Decode Mono/Stereo 8 to 320 kbps constant (CBR) or variable bit-rate (VBR) .mp3
MIDI Decode MIDI Type 0 and 1. DLS Version 1 and 2. XMF and Mobile XMF. Support for ringtone formats RTTTL/RTX, OTA, and iMelody .mid, .xmf, .mxmf, .rtttl, .rtx, .ota, .imy
Ogg Vorbis Decode   .ogg, .mkv40
PCM/WAVE Encode41/Decode Non-compressed .wav
32: Android 3.1+; 40: Android 4.0+, 41: Android version 4.1+