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by JB Burke

Q: What is Android and what does it have to do with smartphones? Do all tablet computers run Android?

A: Android is an Operating System (OS) created by Google, the search engine folks. After Apple came out with the iPhone, there was a need for a competitive offering, and Google met that need by creating the Android OS. They made it available to all the smart phone manufacturers (Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, etc.). Prior to 2011, Per Wikipedia, "A smartphone is a mobile phone built on a mobile computing platform, with more advanced computing ability and connectivity than a feature phone" Today, the majority of smartphones do run on Android.

Apple took the lead in tablets with the iPad, still rated by many as the best tablet computer available. From Wikipedia "A tablet computer, or a tablet, is a mobile computer, larger than a mobile phone or personal digital assistant, integrated into a flat touch screen and primarily operated by touching the screen rather than using a physical keyboard". Tablet computers are the fastest growing segment of the computer market because they make a personal computer very portable. Weighing in at about 1.5 pounds, they are easier to tote around than a laptop or netbook, and the battery charge lasts longer. People are finding more and more uses for them. Tablets can surf the web, and they can be used to read books, magazines and newspapers. They can be used to watch movies, take notes and prepare and give presentations.

Android is not the only OS used on smartphones and tablets. There is iOS (on the iPhone and iPad from Apple), Android (on many phones and tablets from many manufacturers) and Windows Phone OS on the Windows Phone. Also there will be Windows 8, coming later this year, and it will have tablet friendly features, alongside support for traditional PCs. Now Google has announced hardware (the Nexus 7 tablet) and Microsoft has announced the Windows tablet. So competition is heating up.

Published: Courier 7/15/12 - Page 4C