What is Android? Google’s open-source offering is by far the most popular mobile operating system in the world. It has a much larger market share than Apple’s proprietary mobile operating system, iOS

Android has grown dramatically since Google released its first beta smartphone operating system in 2007, and now powers over 2 billion active devices globally. But what exactly is Android? How is it different from iOS? Why does it dominate so many emerging markets? In essence, Android is Google’s adaptable, customizable, and open-source operating system.

Unlike Apple’s locked iOS, Android is based on Linux and can be installed on smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, TVs and more from over 12 leading tech manufacturers including Samsung, Sony, Motorola, and LG. The Android platform is also integrated with Google Play Store for consuming apps, media and Google services. While Apple controls the iPhone user experience end-to-end, the Android landscape is wildly diverse – across language features, security support, hardware capabilities and form factors. At its core, Android aims to be smart, intuitive, and universally accessible to billions of people worldwide.

What Is Android
What Is Android

You’ve probably heard of Android, but you might not have a clear picture of everything it has to offer. Let’s take a deeper dive to understand it better. We’ll even help with deciding if it is the right OS for your next phone.

Read on to discover all you need to know.

What Is Android

What Is Android and How Does IT Work?

Since 2003, Android has grown to become the most popular OS. They must be doing something right with world-class competitors such as Apple and Microsoft!

What Is Android

A quick note at this point: every app on your Android device, and every app you can download on your Android device, has been written especially for the Android operating system.

That means separate apps need to be designed for other operating systems. This is why you would see some apps only available on Android devices and not on Apple devices.

The Operating System

The operating system itself works very similar to Linux. Since the early days of the Android OS, Android has turned into its very own independent operating system, steering away from Linux.

Unlike many other operating systems, Android’s OS has consistent development from over 80 companies within a group called the Open Handset Alliance.

The alliance consists of mobile operators, manufacturers, semiconductor companies , software companies and commercialisation companies.

These individual manufacturers can then modify their own devices with the Android OS built within their devices. This allows companies to bring additional uniqueness to their products, such as their individual interfaces.

That’s why a Samsung interface will look completely different to a Sony devices interface.

Android Products

Android provides operating systems for many different products. In fact, there are hundreds of Android devices you probably don’t know about. The main type of Android devices are mobile phones. Brands such as the Korean giant Samsung, Google itself and LG all use the Android OS.

Other devices that use the Android operating system include tablets, some laptops, smart TVs, smart watches, sat-navs and there are some cases of implementing the operating system within cars.

Many of the companies who have worked with Android have hundreds of Android products and some only have one product or two products. Examples would be Samsung as it has hundreds of products, whereas Razor only has one product which is the Razor phone.

Android VS Competitors

What Is Android

In terms of operating systems, Android is the largest, closely followed by Apple’s iOS. Android takes up over 90 percent of the market, so who are the other competitors and can they challenge Android and knock it off its podium?

Apart from Android and iOS, there is only one other operating system that has over 1% of the operating systems market and that is Windows by Microsoft. There are many other operating systems that you may not have heard about, however many of them fail due to the state of the market only really having a few competitors.

Ubuntu, Cyanogen and a few others are a few examples of upcoming operating systems that failed to catch the public’s support.

Of course when talking about operating systems, we can’t forget Apple! Their iOS is the second largest operating system in the world. It has one major problem – compared to Android – and that is the fact it’s only available on Apple products.

This is where Android has a one up, with devices with many major world wide companies.

Best Android Features

There are many features on Android devices that don’t feature within other devices such as Apple’s iPhones and iPads. This includes the customisation you can do to your phone and many other features.


One great feature Android devices have over its closest rivals Apple is found by way of storage capacity. Most, if not all, Android devices allow its users to add an SD card to their device. This means users could buy a 64GB phone for quite a substantial price and double the storage to 128GB without needing to buy a larger GB phone.

With Apple, you would either need to buy a larger storage device or use the Apple cloud, which you need internet access to access. Not only is this a restriction on the storage of a device, it is also a restriction on a person’s online usage and their data.

This means if a person has used all their data they might not have access to photos, apps and many other parts of their phone. This just sounds like a money making scheme.

Customise Your Device

Android allows you to customise your own keyboard to the way you like it. You can get text predictors, different themes and even keyboards that make it easier for people with disabilities to use. You can also install Google keyboard onto your device.

Some of the best keyboards include Swiftkey, Google Keyboard, Go Keyboard and Touchpal Keyboard. Swiftkey Keyboard allows you to type faster by auto-correcting typos made by the user, you can also completely redesign your entire keyboard, making this one of the top most rated keyboards for Android.

Many others allow users to enlarge the size of characters making them easier to see on the keyboard.

Very much like when you jailbreak an iPhone, Android users can customise their Android device easily with the help of custom launchers. These launchers can add extra features and shortcuts to the user’s phone. They can even help older devices perform a lot better.

Latest Android 12 features, multi-device ecosystem with Chromecast, leading device manufacturers

Capabilities Overview

Android 12, the latest iteration of the Android operating system, introduces a host of innovative features that enhance user experience, expand functionality, and strengthen the multi-device ecosystem. Here’s a comprehensive overview of Android 12’s key capabilities:

Enhanced User Experience:

  • Material You: Android 12 introduces a dynamic and personalized design language, Material You, that adapts to the user’s preferences and device theme. Color extraction from wallpaper allows for a seamless and cohesive visual experience across the interface.
  • Reimagined Widgets: Android 12 reimagines widgets, making them more interactive, informative, and resizable. Widgets can now be stacked and placed anywhere on the home screen, providing users with greater customization and flexibility.
  • Improved Notifications: Android 12 revamps notifications with a more streamlined design, priority grouping, and conversations support for easier management and interaction.


  • Privacy Enhancements: Android 12 bolsters user privacy with granular controls for microphone, camera, and location access. Privacy indicators in the notification bar and dashboard provide transparency into app activity.
  • Enhanced Game Mode: Android 12 introduces Game Mode enhancements, including performance optimization, distraction reduction, and integration with streaming services.
  • Improved Accessibility Features: Android 12 expands accessibility features with support for TalkBack braille displays, enhanced magnification capabilities, and more.

Multi-Device Ecosystem:

  • Seamless Device Connectivity: Android 12 strengthens device connectivity, enabling seamless pairing, data transfer, and control between Android smartphones, tablets, and Chromebooks.
  • Chromecast Integration: Android 12 deepens Chromecast integration, allowing users to cast their phone’s display, apps, and games directly to Chromecast-enabled TVs and speakers.
  • Leading Device Manufacturers: Android 12 is supported by a wide range of device manufacturers, including Samsung, Google, OnePlus, Xiaomi, and more, ensuring a broad and diverse ecosystem.

Additional Noteworthy Features:

  • Improved App Opening Speed: Android 12 optimizes app opening speed, reducing launch times and enhancing overall responsiveness.
  • Enhanced Scrolling Performance: Android 12 improves scrolling performance, making it smoother and more consistent across different apps and interfaces.
  • New Security Features: Android 12 introduces new security features, such as support for the Android Private Compute Core, to protect sensitive user data.

Android RunTime underlying APIs and interface. Compared to Apple’s closed iOS

Linux Kernel:

The Linux kernel serves as the foundation of the Android operating system, providing essential functionalities such as memory management, process scheduling, device drivers, and network communication. This modular and open-source kernel allows for customization and adaptation to various hardware configurations, making Android a versatile and scalable platform.

Android Open Source Project (AOSP):

AOSP is the open-source repository for the Android platform, containing the source code for the Android framework, libraries, and tools. This open-source nature fosters collaboration and innovation, allowing developers to contribute to the development of Android and create customized versions.

Android Runtime (ART):

ART is the execution environment for Android applications, responsible for loading, running, and managing Android apps. It is a more advanced and optimized runtime compared to its predecessor, Dalvik, offering improved performance, memory management, and garbage collection. If you’re looking to develop an Android app, it’s recommended that you consider using ART as your runtime environment to take advantage of its enhanced capabilities and improve the overall performance and user experience of your application.

Underlying APIs and Interfaces:

Android provides a rich set of APIs and interfaces that enable developers to create powerful and engaging applications. These APIs cover a wide range of functionalities, including UI development, data access, networking, location services, and multimedia capabilities.

Comparison to Apple’s Closed iOS:

iOS, the operating system for Apple devices, operates under a closed-source development model, with Apple maintaining complete control over the source code and its implementation. This approach offers greater control over the user experience and security, but it also limits customization and developer contributions.

Table Comparing Android and iOS Architecture:

KernelLinuxModified BSD
Development ModelOpen-sourceClosed-source
RuntimeAndroid Runtime (ART)Core Foundation (CF)
Developer ContributionsEncouragedRestricted


Android’s open-source architecture, based on the Linux kernel, AOSP, ART, and underlying APIs, provides a flexible and customizable platform that has fostered a thriving developer community and a diverse ecosystem of devices and applications. While iOS offers a tightly controlled and consistent user experience, Android’s openness and adaptability have made it the world’s most popular mobile operating system.

Global Android Market Share

Android has consistently maintained its dominance in the global mobile operating system market, holding a commanding share of over 70% since 2012. This dominance is evident in data from leading research firms:

  • StatCounter: According to StatCounter, Android’s global market share in the third quarter of 2023 stood at 71.5%, with iOS holding a 27.8% share.
  • Counterpoint Research: Counterpoint Research data indicates that Android’s global market share in the second quarter of 2023 was 70.5%, while iOS held a 28.8% share.
  • IDC: IDC’s data for the second quarter of 2023 shows Android’s global market share at 72.1%, with iOS holding a 27.1% share.

These figures consistently demonstrate Android’s unwavering position as the world’s leading mobile operating system, with a significant lead over its closest competitor, iOS.

Android Market Share by Country

Android’s dominance is not limited to the global market; it holds a substantial share in various countries worldwide. Here’s a look at Android’s market share in some key regions and emerging markets:

  • Europe: According to StatCounter, Android’s market share in Europe in the third quarter of 2023 was 75.4%, with iOS holding a 23.7% share.
  • Latin America: Counterpoint Research data indicates that Android’s market share in Latin America in the second quarter of 2023 was 86.7%, while iOS held a 12.9% share.
  • Asia-Pacific: IDC’s data for the second quarter of 2023 shows Android’s market share in the Asia-Pacific region at 71.1%, with iOS holding a 27.9% share.
  • Emerging Markets: Android’s popularity is particularly strong in emerging markets, where it often holds over 85% of the market share. For instance, in India, Android’s market share in the third quarter of 2023 was 90.5%, with iOS holding a 9.5% share. Similarly, in Brazil, Android’s market share in the second quarter of 2023 was 88.7%, with iOS holding an 11.3% share.

Factors Contributing to Android’s Success

Several factors have contributed to Android’s remarkable success and widespread adoption:

  1. Open-Source Nature: Android’s open-source nature has fostered a thriving developer community, enabling customization, innovation, and rapid development of apps and features.
  2. Device Availability: Android runs on a vast range of devices, from budget-friendly smartphones to high-end flagship models, making it accessible to a wide range of consumers.
  3. Carrier Flexibility: Android is not tied to a specific carrier, providing users with flexibility in choosing their mobile network provider.
  4. Google Integration: Android’s integration with Google services, such as Gmail, Maps, and Play Store, offers a convenient and seamless user experience.
  5. Emerging Market Focus: Android has targeted emerging markets with affordable devices and localized features, making it the preferred choice for many users in these regions.


Q: What is the global market share of Android?

A: Android’s global market share consistently stands at over 70%, making it the world’s leading mobile operating system.

Q: How does Android’s market share vary by region?

A: Android holds a strong market share in most regions, including Europe, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific region. Its dominance is particularly evident in emerging markets like India and Brazil.

Q: What factors have contributed to Android’s success?

A: Android’s open-source nature, device availability, carrier flexibility, Google integration, and focus on emerging markets have all played a significant role in its widespread adoption.

Q: What is the future outlook for Android?

A: With ongoing innovation and adaptation, Android is expected to maintain its position as the world’s leading mobile operating system for years to come.

Summary: Is Android the Best Mobile OS for You?

Android’s remarkable market share dominance, both globally and across various countries, is a testament to its adaptability, accessibility, and user-centric approach. Its open-source nature has fostered a thriving developer community, leading to a vast array of apps and features that cater to diverse user needs and preferences.

Android’s future trajectory is promising, with continuous innovation and adaptation likely to solidify its position as the world’s leading mobile operating system.

We’ve mentioned some of the main benefits of the Android OS for your next device.
Is Android right for you? A quick weighing up of the pros and cons should reveal the best option for your own needs.

Of course, there is much more to choosing a phone than simply picking the right operating system.

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