Android is a software stack for mobile devices that includes an operating system, middleware and key applications. The Android SDK provides the tools and APIs necessary to begin developing applications on the Android platform using the Java programming language.
Every Android application runs in its own process, with its own instance of the Dalvik virtual machine.. The Dalvik VM executes files in the Dalvik Executable (.dex) format which is optimized for minimal memory footprint. The VM is register-based, and runs classes compiled by a Java language compiler that have been transformed into the .dex format by the included “dx” tool.The Dalvik VM relies on the Linux kernel for underlying functionality such as threading and low-level memory management.
Android relies on Linux version 2.6 for core system services such as security, memory management, process management, network stack, and driver model. The kernel also acts as an abstraction layer between the hardware and the rest of the software stack.
By providing an open development platform, Android offers developers the ability to build extremely rich and innovative applications. Developers are free to take advantage of the device hardware, access location information, run background services, set alarms, add notifications to the status bar, and much, much more.
Android Developers have full access to the same framework APIs used by the core applications. The application architecture is designed to simplify the reuse of components; any application can publish its capabilities and any other application may then make use of those capabilities (subject to security constraints enforced by the framework). This same mechanism allows components to be replaced by the user.
Some of the Important features of Android are
- Application framework enabling reuse and replacement of components
- Dalvik virtual machine optimized for mobile devices
- Integrated browser based on the open source WebKit engine
- Optimized graphics powered by a custom 2D graphics library; 3D graphics based on the OpenGL ES 1.0 specification (hardware acceleration optional)
- SQLite for structured data storage
- Media support for common audio, video, and still image formats (MPEG4, H.264, MP3, AAC, AMR, JPG, PNG, GIF)
- GSM Telephony (hardware dependent)
- Bluetooth, EDGE, 3G, and WiFi (hardware dependent)
- Camera, GPS, compass, and accelerometer (hardware dependent)
- Rich development environment including a device emulator, tools for debugging, memory and performance profiling, and a plugin for the Eclipse IDE.