An open platform for smartphones from the Open Handset Alliance (www.openhandsetalliance.com). Based on Linux and Java, Android owners can download and install applications without being tied to a single vendor conduit as are iPhone users with the App Store (see Android Market). Android uses a touch screen and includes multitasking, which enables apps to run in the background so that users can be notified of incoming messages or other events. Due to its backing by Google, Android is expected to make serious inroads in the smartphone market.
The Google Phone
Google is the primary developer of the platform, having acquired Android, Inc. in 2005, a startup that developed the software. Before Android's debut in late 2007, Google was expected to announce its own "Google phone." Instead, it launched the platform for others to make and service, and in less than a year, T-Mobile introduced the G1, the first Android phone. Sprint also joined the Android alliance, but thus far not Verizon and AT&T, the latter two comprising more than half the cellular subscribers in the U.S. See smartphone, Open Handset Alliance and HTC.
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