Google's Android turns nine

Here's how has been the journey of Android since its launch in September 2008?

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Picture for representation Reuters

Android, which is the dominating the market of mobile platforms for a long time, has turned nine. The platform was debuted on the HTC Dream back on September 23, 2008.

American computer programmer Andy Rubin founded Android Inc in collaboration with Rich Miner, Nick Sears and Chris White. The company was aimed to build an advanced platform for digital cameras in April 2004, but just five months later it had targeted a development against Symbian and Microsoft Windows Mobile. In July 2005, Google acquired Rubin's startup and planned a mobile device platform under his leadership.

The initial model of Android was designed for non-touchscreen devices, supporting a physical QWERTY keyboard. But the iPhone launch in 2007 influenced Google to build something for touchscreens. Ultimately, the search giant partnered with HTC to launch the very first Android device, the T-Mobile G1 -- arrived globally as the HTC Dream.

At present, Android is available across over two billion devices worldwide. This is nearly a billion more than the total number of active iPhone units, as Apple officially reported last year.

Openness empowering growth

One of the prime reasons behind the rapid growth of Android is its open adoption which has been powered by the Open Handset Alliance that was launched in November 2005.

"Android is the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices. It includes an operating system, user interface and applications -- all of the software run a mobile platform, but without the proprietary obstacles that have hindered mobile innovation," Rubin had written in a blog post while announcing Android as a full-fledged mobile platform in November 2007.

Also read: Armed with Android Oreo, Google takes aim at bloatware

The initial list of members involved in Open Handset Alliance included more than 30 technology and mobile device makers including HTC, Motorola, Qualcomm, Samsung and T-Mobile. However, the consortium today has 84 members that include mobile operators, handset manufacturers, semiconductor developers, software development companies and commercialisation firms.

Eighth iteration

Android is presently available in its eighth major version, dubbed Android Oreo. The operating system, publicly launched last month, comes with a list of advancements that are not limited to mobile communication but also includes features bolstering developments around artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR). Notably, Google has also planned developments that are enhancing the experience on tablets and smart TVs.

Google Play, which was formerly known as Android Market and is the default source of expanding the scope of Android with apps and games, has over 2.7 million apps. There are services such as Google Play Books, Google Play Games, Google Play Movies & TV and Google Play Music that all are strategically available to make Android a smarter platform.

Challenges emerge alongside success

Despite the exponential growth of Android in the mobile device market, Google has some major roadblocks that need to be overcome to continue the success story of the open mobile platform. The first challenge that Android faces nowadays is the irregular updates. While the Android team delivers timely updates to make the experience fresh and secure for end users, device manufacturers are not able to provide the same releases due to the heterogeneity of hardware.

Google has lately planned initiatives like Android One to bring a unified experience to a large extent. However, matured market players, such as Samsung and Sony, are yet to participate with their Android One devices.

Also read: After Xiaomi, HTC plans to launch an Android One phone

The gap between the release and roll-out of updates gives a scope to hackers to leverage vulnerabilities in the older versions and seed malware. Each month, Google patches tens and hundreds of vulnerabilities. But millions of Android devices have often been targeted due to ease of exploiting the code.

Google prominently needs to speed up the release of new updates and patch all the existing vulnerabilities. These moves will help the company make the present of Android brighter and nurture its roots for the next several years.