Android is an operating system developed by Google primarily for mobile devices, but has also been incorporated into a wide array of general electronic devices. It was first released on 2008-09-23 and, in only two years, became the most popular mobile OS on the market, and currently retains that title by a huge margin. The OS is built on a modified Linux kernel written in C and C++ with its user interface layer written in Java.
I didn't get an Android device until around 2007. I had great expectations for the OS since it was made by Google, whose Web apps I love, but I very quickly found Android to be difficult to use and incapable of some of the most basic computer functions. Although not as bad as Apple's iOS, Google takes a similar approach where they try to force all users into using Android the same way requiring everyone who finds the default way cumbersome or annoying to spend hours trying to find ways to bypass the restrictions of OS, if they can at all.
- The OS is written generically enough that it can be used on thousands of different platforms.
- The swipe-able icon-driven interface is very easy to use, and looks great.
- By default, the user has a fair amount of control over the many settings on each device (although much of this control is usually revoked by the OEM).
- The Google Play store offers a huge variety of additional software to load. Many of which are free with ads.
- The source code for much of Android is and remains open-source.
- I like how programs must inform the user which aspects of your device they require access to before installing.
- There are a lot of annoying nag messages that, as far as I know, cannot be turned off. For example, plugging an Android device into a USB capable device results in a dialog asking if I want to allow the connect (this can finally be shut off in the latest version). Basic file types like images, plain text files, and music are not associated with the default Android app out-of-the-box, so you have to set them all up one time with every new device. Another one pops when I plug a device into my car saying it can't read MTP (even if I don't grant it access).
- The stereo-out jack starts too quiet, doesn't remember your previous volume level, and has another annoying nag message that can't be bypassed when you try to raise the volume to a useful level. From what I've read, this isn't Android's fault, but the fault of government interference.
- Following in Apple's bad footsteps, a lot of phone designers have eliminated the extremely useful physical face buttons. When they aren't present, Android replaces them with on-screen popup buttons that auto-hide and require an additional swipe to view them. There is an unlabeled and poorly displayed lock button, but, even when locked, programs can still hide it.
- The default call blocking list only allows you to store 100 numbers, which is both arbitrary, and too small to put a dent in telemarketers.
- Google isn't as quick at identifying and stopping malicious software on their Play store as they could be.
- Google allows OEMs to easily and irrevocably alter the OS at the expense of the user's experience. Most devices are sold with loads of useless, dangerous, or unwanted software which wastes space, drains the battery, and often spies on the user. This software cannot be removed or even prevented from running.
- Android prevents the removal of many Google apps, even if they're are not necessary for the operation of the OS.
- The Google+ app adds to your contacts list an entry for every person you've ever emailed in GMail. When I setup my first Android phone it added over 500 contacts, most of whom I didn't recognize because I received one email from them years ago.
- By default, Android can't even perform a function as basic as editing and saving a text file! Instead, there is a Memo app whose files cannot be accessed by any other program.
- The default Calendar app in the latest version is garbage. It automatically adds birthdays of people who are not in my contacts (pulled in from my Google+?) with no way to remove them individually, it frequently displays reminders on the wrong days, and doesn't even show a calendar view by default.