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What is the history of Android apps?

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The history of Android apps began in 2003 with a group of four developers who formed Android, Inc. to create a mobile platform for cameras. Google purchased the company in 2005 to develop an open platform. In 2007, Google announced the Open Standard Network, a consortium of 34 tech companies that included the handset manufacturers HTC and Motorola, the chipset manufacturers Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, and the telecommunications provider T-Mobile.

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In 2008, the HTC Dream, also known as the T-Mobile G-1, became the first Android phone released to the public. It featured GPS, Bluetooth and camera apps, but no onscreen keyboard. Only 35 apps were available in the Android store. Early apps included Gmail and YouTube, but with no onscreen keyboard, their usefulness was limited. To encourage development of useful and innovative apps, Google offered $10 million in prizes to developers.

The early operating systems received frequent updates, including updates to apps. The first update in 2009 added third-party support for on-screen keyboards and a toggle key for the camera app to switch between picture-taking and video modes. It also included upload support for YouTube and the messaging app Picasa, support for widgets and a method of paying for apps.

Despite a rapidly growing number of apps, consumers remained relatively ambivalent toward Android until Verizon announced the Motorola Droid, which sold over 1 million units in the first three months of its release. This resulted in greater demand for apps and led to further refinements, such as the action bar, the ability to see battery and data usage, and the transformation of Google Plus into a centralized store that curates apps for easy browsing. By July 2014, the number of Android apps available exceeded 1.4 million.

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