SAN FRANCISCO : The Google Android operating system, the target of a long-running EU antitrust investigation, powers the vast majority of the world's smartphones and firmly rules the mobile world.

Android software acts as the brains for mobile devices, coordinating tasks from phone calls and map directions to games, Twitter posts, online searches.

Google, the revenue-pumping heart of corporate parent Alphabet, makes Android available free to device makers, earning money from ads, content or subscriptions at online services crafted to work with the operating system.

According to industry-tracker Gartner, Android dominated the smartphone market with a share of  85.9 percent last year, to around 14 percent for Apple iOS .

Some 1.3 billion Android smartphones were sold last year, compared with approximately 215 million running on iOS and 1.5 million with other operating systems, according to the research firm.

The first version of Android was released a decade ago.

In a playful way, Google has named Android iterations, after tasty treats including Kit Kat , Marshmallow and Nougat. A fresh version, Android P, is in beta testing mode and is expected to be given a yummier monicker before it is officially released.


Android is "open source" meaning that device makers can use it free of charge and and customize it as they wish.

This led to complaints that the world of Android was "forked" with compatibility of applications inconsistent with and device makers slow or reluctant to push updated versions or security patches to users. [AFP]


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