What is Android?

Not everyone lives and breathes mobile technology so you should be forgiven for asking ‘What is Android?’.


Android in its simplest terms is an operating system created for use on mobile devices such as smartphones, phablets which are a little bigger and tablets which are bigger still.


The Android operating system was created by Google and new versions are released on a regular basis to keep up with evolving technologies.


The 2014 version of Android is Android KitKat v4.4 and you will find this on almost all mobile devices released this year. There is however a later version known as Android Lollipop v5.0 which has just been released on a few select devices. This new version will become commonplace in 2015.


What does Android KitKat v4.4 offer?


Just like all other Android operating systems you get to experience two sides of the operating system as a user. One side is a collection of pre-installed programs called apps whilst the other side controls elements of the device through the settings panel.


The apps element can be expanded upon by visiting the Google Play app store. From here you can download new apps that do new things and these are available in both free (usually ad supported) or paid for forms.


The common apps included with Android v4.4 includes:


Chrome – Chrome is your web browser and it works just like it does on your home PC. You can save bookmarks and Sync them if you are using the Chrome browser on your PC or laptop.
Gmail – This is an email client and you can either use an existing Gmail account if you have one or set up a new one. You will then be able to send and receive emails and open attachments.
Voice Search – There is no denying that typing on a smartphone can be a tedious experience but Android lets you take advantage of its Voice Search technology which has evolved to be extremely accurate when recognising the words you say. You will also find the microphone icon integrated into other areas of your Android smartphone so you can dictate an email or text message or write notes without having to type a single word.
YouTube – Here you can get direct access to music and videos and if you like you can even upload your own onto the internet for sharing with friends, family and the whole world.
Google+ – This service is a social media portal where you can connect with friends or professionals, find interesting articles or join communities of people who are discussing the same interests as you.
Google Maps – This is your navigation centre where you can explore interactive maps, get directions or use with GPS for turn-by-turn navigation.


A few of the useful elements that you can control in the Android settings panel includes:


Phone Manager – This feature allows you to fine tune your smartphone and keep it up to date. You can use the storage cleaner, set up a harassment filter, view your data usage and access the other features described below.
Power Saving – This essential feature can be a life saver when a power source isn’t close by. Normal mode gives you peak performance, Smart mode intelligently balances performance with battery saving and Ultra power saving mode turns off everything but the essential to greatly extend your remaining standby time.
Do Not Disturb – This handy setting lets you switch your phone into a do not disturb mode. This well thought out feature doesn’t completely shut out the world though as you can select individual contacts who you still wish to be able to give you a call.
Notification Manager – Here you can control how certain apps interact with your notification bar. You might for example download a game that automatically posts notification messages so it can be useful to be able to stop that particular app from doing so.


What will Android Lollipop v5.0 offer?


Android v5.0 has many updates and these include a new look. Icons which were previously square will be round and have shadows added to them to give the perception of a 3D experience.


Your notifications will be handled more intelligently as the phone learns what you do. After a little time you will find that your notifications are listed in order of priority decided by your usage patterns.


Google Fit will also be included and this fitness app will use sensors within the smartphone or a paired smartwatch to help you count calories, loose weight and otherwise aid your exercise regime.


A new battery saving mode could help you gain up to a third more battery life by controlling individual apps that may be hungry power consumers.


Android Auto is included as well so if you have an Android Auto compatible car then you will see a new and less distracting interface. Buttons are bigger, you can control your music library and reply to text or email messages with voice recognition.


So there you have it, a basic overview of what Android is and what we are about to see in the new Android Lollipop v5.0 update.


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