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What is the Android operating system?

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Quick Answer

Android is a Linux-based operating system designed primarily for hand-held devices with touchscreens, such as mobile phones and tablets. Google purchased the Android operating system, which was initially created by Android, Inc., in 2005. Google retains ownership of Android as of October 2015.

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Full Answer

The Android operating system is open-source, meaning its source code is available to end users for free. The end users can legally modify the source code. This open-source nature makes the Android operating system easily customizable. However, most Android devices feature a combination of both open-source and proprietary software.

Although Android originally crated the operating system for mobile devices, Google has developed variants such as Android TV for televisions, Android Wear for wristwatches and Android Auto for cars. Each variant features a specialized user interface. Google has also developed versions for digital cameras and game consoles.

Google periodically releases updates for the Android operating system. Different Android devices receive software updates at different times. Users can check for updates on their devices, although sometimes they receive notifications whenever updates are available. The updates are free to download and install.

Google recommends that Android users have Gmail accounts. This is because many services require a sign-in using a Gmail email address. An example of such a service is Google Play.

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