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Android is a mobile operating system developed by Google, based on the Linux kernel and designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Android's user interface is mainly based on direct manipulation, using touch gestures that loosely correspond to real-world actions, such as swiping, tapping and pinching, to manipulate on-screen objects, along with a virtual keyboard for text input. In addition to touchscreen devices, Google has further developed Android TV for televisions, Android Auto for cars, and Android Wear for wrist watches, each with a specialized user interface. Variants of Android are also used on game consoles, digital cameras, PCs and other electronics.
Initially developed by Android Inc., which Google bought in 2005, Android was unveiled in 2007, along with the founding of the Open Handset Alliance – a consortium of hardware, software, and telecommunication companies devoted to advancing open standards for mobile devices. Beginning with the first commercial Android device in September 2008, the operating system has gone through multiple major releases, with the current version being 8.0 "Oreo", released in August 2017. Android applications ("apps") can be downloaded from the Google Play store, which features over 2.7 million apps as of February 2017. Android has been the best-selling OS on tablets since 2013, and runs on the vast majority[a] of smartphones. As of May 2017, Android has two billion monthly active users, and it has the largest installed base of any operating system.
Android's default user interface is mainly based on direct manipulation, using touch inputs that loosely correspond to real-world actions, like swiping, tapping, pinching, and reverse pinching to manipulate on-screen objects, along with a virtual keyboard. Game controllers and full-size physical keyboards are supported via Bluetooth or USB. The response to user input is designed to be immediate and provides a fluid touch interface, often using the vibration capabilities of the device to provide haptic feedback to the user. Internal hardware, such as accelerometers, gyroscopes and proximity sensors are used by some applications to respond to additional user actions, for example adjusting the screen from portrait to landscape depending on how the device is oriented, or allowing the user to steer a vehicle in a racing game by rotating the device, simulating control of a steering wheel.
Applications ("apps"), which extend the functionality of devices, are written using the Android software development kit (SDK) and, often, the Java programming language.Java may be combined with C/C++,together with a choice of non-default runtimes that allow better C++ support.The Go programming language is also supported, although with a limited set of application programming interfaces (API).In May 2017, Google announced support for Android app development in the Kotlin programming language.The SDK includes a comprehensive set of development tools, including a debugger, software libraries, a handset emulator based on QEMU, documentation, sample code, and tutorials. Initially,
Google's supported integrated development environment (IDE) was Eclipse using the Android Development Tools (ADT) plugin; in December 2014, Google released Android Studio, based on IntelliJ IDEA, as its primary IDE for Android application development. Other development tools are available, including a native development kit (NDK) for applications or extensions in C or C++, Google App Inventor, a visual environment for novice programmers, and various cross platform mobile web applications frameworks. In January 2014, Google unveiled an framework based on Apache Cordova for porting Chrome HTML 5 web applications to Android, wrapped in a native application shell.