How Android Is Taking Over The World


When you think about Android, you automatically think smartphones and tablets, but Google’s platform is quickly becoming as widespread as Linux. It now powers more than 900 million devices worldwide, and it’s out there in places you wouldn’t expect it to be.

Android is the chosen platform for smartwatches from Sony, it makes Samsung’s futuristic fridges super smart, and it’s at the heart of the iQon in-car entertainment systems from Saab. It’s actually a flavor of Linux, but one that’s optimized for today’s mobile devices.

And because it’s so versatile, Android will soon be the operating system that powers everything, according to the Wired U.K. What’s Coming special edition (written by our own editor-in-chief Leander Kahney).

Like Linux, Android’s list of possibilities is almost endless. It’s open and customizable and Google’s partners can modify its code base as they see fit — to suit their products. This is something Microsoft would never allow, and it’s what makes Android ideal for an increasingly wide range of devices.

Android is also backed by the Open Handset Alliance, a consortium that includes the likes of Samsung and HTC, and those two companies — Samsung especially — know only too well how powerful it can be.

Samsung’s most popular smartphones, including the incredibly popular Galaxy S4, which sold 10 million units in its first month of availability, all run Android. So do its Galaxy-branded tablets, its Galaxy Gear smartwatch, and its Wi-Fi-enabled refrigerators.

Android has also become the go-to platform for startups. Because it’s cheap, smaller companies with minimum resources can pick it up and use it to compete. A big budget for development resources is no longer necessary.

Take the OUYA, for example, a new games console that was funded on Kickstarter. Thanks to its Android operating system, the OUYA could be made from cheaper, off-the-shelf components that allowed its creators to keep its price tag below $100.

Android isn’t always necessary; it’s a little overkill for things like sensors or actuators that don’t need a rich human-interface, and running it needs a fair bit of memory and processing power — something simpler devices aren’t equipped with.

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