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The Android operating system was developed by Google and is one of the top three operating systems for mobile devices.

Although initially developed for Smartphones, Android is also used for other mobile devices such as tablets.

The operating system is being improved at a rapid rate with around two updates being released per year.

Android handsets can be easily integrated and synchronised with Google Tools such as Gmail, calendar and contacts. If you change your handset or buy other Android devices you can set these to automatically synchronise your Google details – you may never have to transfer your contacts between phones again!

With Android, as well as adding applications to your phone, you can also change the way your phone operates. This means that you can rearrange the way your phone works to suit your personal tastes, so if, for example, you don’t like the address book or text entry, you can change it!

What’s Google Play?

Google Play is an online store developed by Google for Android devices. It is preinstalled on most Android devices and allows users to browse and download apps published by third-party developers also ebooks, films and music.

Once a developer has signed up to the Google Play, they can make their applications available immediately, without a lengthy approval process.

As of February 2012 there were about 450,000 games, applications and widgets available on the Google Play, with an estimated 10 billion total downloads

Who makes the handsets?

There are a wide range of handsets available which run the Android OS. Almost all of the main manufacturers have Android devices within their portfolio, with the exception of Nokia and those that have developed their own OS such as Apple.

The most popular Android handsets in 2011 were manufactured by HTC and Samsung (Galaxy range).

However, as the Android brand has become more well known and understood, the manufacturer has become less important. This has led brands to develop their own user interfaces, such as HTC Sense, these integrate with the OS and help the manufacturer to differentiate their handsets.