While the struggle between Apple and Android for smartphone dominance may seem close to many, the difference between the two is remarkable: it is projected that by the end of this year, Android will own an 85.2% share of the smartphone market — and Android already passed Microsoft in March in terms of all internet-connected devices. As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to connect more and more devices to the Internet, Android will likely further distance itself from the pack, making it far and away the most popular operating system in the world. But, why is Android OS so appealing to programmers and consumers?
Free Open Source Code
The two biggest selling points for Android OS are price point and flexibility. First, Android OS is completely free for anyone who wants to download its source code, which is incredibly appealing for developers. With virtually no barrier to entry, Android OS can be used by anyone and installed on almost any device, making it a common choice for companies developing apps or manufacturing smart devices.
Ease of Development
Whether you’re one of the nearly one million people who’ve watched Android Authority’s “writing your first Android app” video or you were trained by Android itself, there are countless ways both professional and amateur developers can learn to program in Android. Even better: most of these educational resources are free of charge, so anyone in your organization can learn to program for Android without the need for significant investment.
Another benefit of the open source nature of Android OS is a community that is often willing to help, share, and collaborate on builds. For example, the AndroidDev board on Reddit has nearly 100,000 subscribers. And, GitHub, another popular code-sharing and development site, also has an active Android community, including a page on sample Android Apps and a discussion forum for Android developers to ask questions and exchange ideas. This means even more resources for companies whose development teams choose Android OS.
A common misconception about open source software is that it’s more susceptible to viruses and hacks. Although this is true in some cases, Android OS is very secure, so your organization won’t need to worry. Adrian Ludwig, Director of Android Security, recently stated that all security measures moving forward will be built into Android’s OS; in other words, Android will no longer require third-party anti-virus and anti-hacking measures, unlike many other operating systems. Another security safeguard: the popularity of Android OS. With so many developers working on Android projects and sharing information, security flaws are more easily identified and fixed — even when no one is looking for them. Android’s responsible community of programmers has been known to report these flaws to Android so that they can be patched before users are ever at risk.
Devices built on Android have access to the Google Play Store, providing them with nearly everything they need, from Raspberry Pi projects to making your own smartwatch. The Play Store now offers more than three million apps, many which are available for free. Development for the Google Play Store is also popular among programmers. Although entry costs $25 and 30% of an app’s revenue, this barrier to entry is far lower than Apple’s requirements for its App Store. For a such a massive, built-in marketplace that’s accessible to millions of users, Google Play Store fees are a small price to pay.