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Android is a Linux-based operating system designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers. Initially developed by Android, Inc., whom Google financially backed and later purchased in 2005, Android was unveiled in 2007 along with the founding of the Open Handset Alliance: a consortium of hardware, software, and telecommunication companies devoted to advancing open standards for mobile devices. The first Android-powered phone was sold in October 2008.
Android is open source and Google releases the code under the Apache License. This open source code and permissive licensing allows the software to be freely modified and distributed by device manufacturers, wireless carriers and enthusiast developers. Additionally, Android has a large community of developers writing applications (“apps”) that extend the functionality of devices, written primarily in a customized version of the Java programming language. In October 2012, there were approximately 700,000 apps available for Android, and the estimated number of applications downloaded from Google Play, Android’s primary app store, was 25 billion.