Android is a free and open-source mobile operating system primarily designed for touchscreen devices like smartphones and tablets. It’s developed by a consortium known as the Open Handset Alliance, with Google being the major contributor and the provider of the most widely used version.

Here’s a closer look at its key characteristics:

  • Open-source: The core Android Open Source Project (AOSP) is freely available for anyone to access, modify, and distribute. This openness encourages innovation and customization by manufacturers and developers.
  • Linux kernel: Built on top of a modified version of the Linux kernel, which provides essential functionalities like memory management, process management, and device drivers.
  • Touchscreen interface: Designed for intuitive interaction with touchscreen displays, utilizing gestures like tapping, swiping, and pinching.
  • Application framework: Offers a rich set of APIs and libraries for developers to build applications using languages like Java and Kotlin.
  • Dalvik Virtual Machine (DVM): Traditionally, Android used the Dalvik Virtual Machine (DVM) to execute app code, but newer versions have transitioned to Android Runtime (ART) for improved performance.
  • Permission system: Implements a robust permission system that controls app access to various resources and functionalities, enhancing user privacy and security.
  • Google Mobile Services (GMS): While the AOSP is open-source, most commercially available Android devices come pre-installed with Google Mobile Services (GMS), which includes popular services like Google Play Store, Gmail, Maps, and more.