Android™ applications, or "apps," are specifically designed for use on smartphones with the Android™ mobile operating system, developed by multi-media giant Google. Apps are written by developers, who write them using the computer language Java. It is a relatively simple process to download Android™ apps, which have been available for use since 2007. It was not until 2010, however, that the Android™ became a viable alternative to the Apple iPhone® by offering an inventory of apps that rivaled that of its competitor. Like the iPhone®, an Android™ phone can act as a mobile phone, a camera, and even a mobile computer.
Several Android™ apps come ready for use right out of the box. One example is the web browser Opera Mini which can search the web at a rapid pace by compressing pages by up to 90%. My Tracks, a portable GPS system that helps provide real-time location and directions, is also ready-to-go without requiring an additional download.
To download Android™ apps directly to an Android™ smartphone, simply push the "Android™ Market" icon on the main screen using your fingertip. This act will launch Android™ Market in the application menu. The Android™ Market is organized such that you can search using the "desired application" screen by keyword or by category type. Once an app is located, simply select install and wait for the download to be complete.
Similar to other phone-based application stores, the Android™ Market contains a large catalog of applications that can be downloaded using a mobile phone network instead of a PC connection. In its early years, one could only download Android™ apps that were limited in scope. As a result of competition that included the launching of several high-profile Android™ smartphones, you can now download Android™ apps with a much greater selection and variety.
The Android™ Market features free and low-cost apps, and it continues to expand exponentially with no end in sight. Popular free apps let the user readily access and interact with popular sites like Facebook®, AOL Instant Messenger®, and virtual classified website Craigslist® to name but a few. The paid apps are usually nominal in price, and are said to make the phone function like a portable computer in terms of speed and usability. There are a number of different app categories, including finance, entertainment, and productivity.