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Celebrating Android’s 5th Birthday: 5 of the Best Things about Android OS

This day five years ago, Google together with mobile hardware manufacturers and cellular service providers unveiled the Open Handset Alliance, an event that marked the birth of Android.  Google has been on the forefront of steering the development of this mobile operating system since it purchased it 7 years ago from Android Inc.  Android Inc. was founded back in 2003 and Google announced its intention to take it over in 2007 and stir up the smartphone market.

The first version of Android, Android 1.0, came in September 2008, but it did leave much impact until late 2009 when such products as Motorola droid running on Android began to emerge in the market.  Since then, Android has grown to become the most popular and dominant operating system running on over 60 percent of smartphones and tablets worldwide, and it is still growing in popularity.  The big question is, why is Android so popular, and how has it revolutionized the smartphone and tablet worlds?

1. Android is very customizable

When you buy a device from Samsung with TouchWiz interface and get another by HTC with HTC Sense interface but running the same operating system, they look completely different.  This customization is on manufacturer level, but users can customize their devices to suit their needs.  They can install third party launchers to change how the device looks and response, they can install applications to monitor device performance and modify device settings to suit their needs.

There are also custom programs downloadable, mostly for free or for less than $10 from Google Play Store for almost any task including emails, browsers, camera and photo editors applications, and other system applications.  There has never been any mobile operating system that is as customizable as Android.

That is not all; advanced users can even overhaul the entire operating system and install modified ones in a process called rooting.  This grants the user full control of the operating system and access to device hardware for a whole new Android experience.

2. Vibrant Android Community

Over the five years that Android has been in existence, one of the most dynamic android user and developer community has mushroomed.  When users first get android devices and need help getting around, they will find all kinds of answers for questions they may have about the operating system.  The most dynamic communities – xdaDevelopers and CyanogenMod forum have all kinds of articles, blog posts and help files for all users – from beginners to advanced modders.  There are also so many blogs and websites that are dedicated to providing news and support information such as this post on the internet – no other mobile operating system rivals Android’s.  The vibrant Android community can be attributed to the operating system’s open source nature

3. Availability of applications – for almost anything

You want to edit your photos on phone or tablet?  There is an Android app for that.  Do you want to install your own program?  You can do that without any modifications to the operating system.  Sideloading applications, which means installing applications which are not from the play store, is as simple as locating where it is saved and tapping to install.  Unlike iOS, Android has several popular app stores including the Google Play Store which has almost 800,000 applications now, the Amazon Android store, soon-to-come Firefox app store and many other smaller application stores.  This means that finding applications from different sources eliminates the inconveniences and disadvantages of monopoly.

4. Android an open source operating system

Since Android is an open source operating system, its source code is available to the public.  This is a big deal to application developers and advanced users who want to modify the operating system to suit their needs.

5. Android home screen

One of the best features of the Android operating system is its home screen.  With a home screen that supports widgets, its dynamicity and ease of use, it means that the home screen provides functionality and access to tools, services and applications that would otherwise be so complicated to access.  No other mobile operating system provides such functionality – or if there is, it got the idea from Android.

Five years down the line, Android has grown from 1.0 to the current 4.2 and it is something completely different.  It has changed what phones can do, and tablets now do what laptops do – even better than most laptops.  Smartphones on the other hand have such extended capabilities that it is difficult to predict how they will be five years from now.