Features of the Android Platform

Android has some distinct features that make it stand out from the rest of mobile technologies. Let's look at some of those special features.

■ Open platform—Android is an open source project. The Open Handset Alliance enables development of the Android platform, with each member committed to the openness of the mobile platform. This encourages a variety of input and different views on Android's development. As an application developer, you can thus understand the platform better.

■ Easy access to core features—Android includes a rich set of libraries to access all the core mobile features within your custom Android applications. The Application Framework stack of the Android platform enables you to access these features through Java class libraries. For example, to send an SMS programmatically, you can reference the necessary libraries and execute the method that sends the SMS. You don't need to know the internals on how the SMS is sent.

■ Extendable and replaceable applications—You can extend Android applications, including the core applications shipped with your mobile device, to provide new innovative features. Going one step further, you can even replace any of the core Android applications with a custom application that you create. For example, you can create your own application to manage contacts and designate that application as the default application for managing contacts.

■ Borderless applications—Android applications are borderless and not confined to a single executable. Android applications use core features available in the mobile device. They also can communicate with other custom Android applications, exposing features for other applications to use.

For example, you might create an application that provides certain data about geographic locations. Another application might use that information to provide the best holiday destinations. The applications are not restricted and can keep growing in new functionalities.

■ Web friendly—Google, one of the key members of the Open Handset Alliance, plays an important part in the development of the Android platform. Therefore, you can expect the Android platform to work seamlessly with the Web. Android applications can render web content by embedding HTML and JavaScript.

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