Android is a mobile phone operating system from Google. It’s increasingly popular and has been adopted by a number of different phone manfacturers.
So whereas you’ll only see iOS on Apple devices, or BlackBerry OS on a BlackBerry, you can find Android on smartphones from manufacturers including LG, HTC, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and Samsung. However these manufacturers often tweak Android, adding their own customisations or ‘skins’, such as HTC’s Sense and Motorola’s Motoblur.
Probably the most exciting thing about owning an Android phone is that it gives you access to the Android Market. This means you can download applications, or apps, that enable your phone to perform all kinds of new functions.
There are practical apps for just about everything you can imagine, from navigation to helping you to keep fit, as well as plenty of fun games to keep you entertained.
Best of all, many of these applications are free, although you may have to put up with adverts occasionally popping up on the edge of the screen when the app is running.
There are over 200,000 apps available on the Android Market. This can make it tricky to find the app that you’re looking for, so to help get you started, Which? has put together a list of some of the best Android apps in our advice section.
In addition to the Android Market, the Android operating system also lets you personalise how your phone looks. You can customise the multiple home pages, adding and removing your favourite widgets – these can be live tiles displaying up to date information such as weather and news, or shortcuts to useful applications.
As Google doesn’t charge for a license to use its Android software, manufactuers have been able to create great smartphones at reasonable prices. Even the latest Android smartphones such as the HTC Desire S can be picked up free with a contract of just £20 a month.
And if you want to know more about Android, check out our Android advice section.