www.mentor.com/embeddedWHAT IS ANDROID?
It is easy to think of Android as being yet another operating system for high-end mobile phones. It is reallya software platform, rather than just an OS, that has the potential to be utilized in a much wider rangeof devices. In practical terms, Android is an application framework on top of Linux, which facilitatesits rapid deployment in many domains.A key to its likely success is licensing. Android is open source and a majority of the source is licensedunder Apache2, allowing adopters to add additional proprietary value in the Android source without sourcedistribution requirements.Another way to appreciate the significance of Android is to take a historical perspective. In the early daysof PCs, the operating system was DOS. This presented some interesting challenges to application developers,as DOS provided a minimal number of services. The result was that every application needed a completeframework to provide the full functionality that was required. For example, a word processing programwould need to have a driver for every imaginable printer. This was a major headache for developers and aserious ongoing maintenance problem. The solution came in the early 1990s with the release of Windows.Or, rather, the development of Windows 3.0. Although we think of Windows as being primarily a GUI, itreally is much more than that. Nowadays, a word processor just talks to a logical printer. The manufacturer of the printer hardware simply needs to provide a Windows driver and everything works together properly.In some respects, a similar situation exists today when developers want to deploy Linux for embeddedapplications. Android is the enabler for a broad application developer base, a complete stack on top of theLinux kernel.
Although Android is quite new technology, it does have a history. It really began in 2005 when Google acquiredAndroid Inc., which started rumors that Google had interests in mobile telephony. The Android product wasannounced, along with the formation of the Open Handset Alliance in 2007. The following year saw the firstAndroid phone launched and the declaration of Android code as being open source.Even though Android was created for handsets, many developers began to see a great opportunity to developother kinds of innovative devices on the Android platform. Significant optimizations and additions would be required, however, to optimize Android for other connected devices.Late in 2008, a company called Embedded Alley Solutions of San Jose, California, took on the challengeof moving Android beyond phones.In July 2009, Mentor Graphics Corporation acquired Embedded Alley. Another significant step along theAndroid history timeline.