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Next General Meeting:
Meeting Preview—Android – Jeff Postolowski
Date: Tuesday, April 1st, 7 p.m.
Location: Danbury Hospital Auditorium
Directions

By Richard Corzo

Android logoApple came out with the iPhone in 2007. It was a phone, iPod music player, and mobile Internet browser in a single device, with a large touch screen but no numeric keypad or keyboard. Nokia and many other manufacturers had started to put out so-called smartphone features based on the Symbian operating system. BlackBerry had much success by focusing on constant access to e-mail on a phone with their famous keyboard. Palm was out there with their Palm-based Treo phone on which you could install apps. Microsoft had Windows Mobile with a tiny start menu that required a stylus to operate the phone. Finally there was Google, who, to keep their dominance in Internet advertising, wanted to have a strong presence in the mobile space. So they had been working on a phone OS for running Java apps.

Eventually all realized, but probably Google the most quickly, that the iPhone had changed the game. Suddenly all existing phones looked obsolete next to the iPhone. Google went back and retooled the Android OS they had been working on to enable an all-touch-screen interface. The Asian manufacturers who had based their phones on Symbian or Windows Mobile started to look for alternatives. Within a year Google was able to release the first version of Android. It was billed as an open OS which phone manufacturers could customize in response to the iPhone. Samsung's earliest smartphones based on Android closely mimicked the look of the iPhone.

In the U.S., Apple had signed an exclusive contract with AT&T and was gaining customers due to that exclusivity. The larger carrier, Verizon, was eager to find phones that could compete. It spent a lot of money promoting phones based on Android, ensuring that it would gain a strong foothold in the market. Google charged the phone manufacturers nothing to use Android. Since many of those phones were lower-priced and could be offered free on contract, cost-conscious consumers responded positively to the chance to gain iPhone-like features for less, or were just curious to try something new.

A year after the iPhone debuted, it gained an app store which quickly attracted a slew of developers and made the iPhone even more desirable for customers. Android came out with the Android Marketplace, which also had apps but had some catching up to do. It was a bit more challenging to develop for, due to the wide variety of phones to support, but that variety also attracted a range of customers. Technically-inclined customers were also attracted by the ability to install apps from sources other than the Android Marketplace (later called Google Play Store), as well as the possibility of replacing the manufacturer- and carrier-customized version of Android on their phone with a version more to their liking.

In 2010 the next challenge for Android was Apple's iPad, based on the iOS operating system used by the iPhone. It was fairly easy for developers to create apps uniquely adapted for the larger screen. Google's response was the Honeycomb (3.0) release of Android which started to enable Android tablets to be built. The earliest success came with the 7-inch tablets, on which scaled-up phone apps still looked reasonable. Google continued to enhance Android for tablets, and developers started to create tablet-optimized apps, allowing larger Android tablets to be viable.

Our speaker, Jeff Postolowski, is a server and network administrator at Western Connecticut State University. He actually started with an iPhone in its early years, but quickly replaced the installed iOS with an alternate OS that allowed him to customize it to his liking. When it came time to replace his phone, he was an obvious candidate for the greater flexibility of Android and has never looked back. He will be a great resource for your Android questions.

In addition to showing us all the ins and outs of Android on phones and tablets, Jeff may also talk to us about Google Chromecast, a video streaming device based on Android, which plugs into your HDTV and connects to your home Wi-Fi network. Combined with an Android phone or tablet, it's starting to become a powerful entertainment option, although perhaps for those who are a bit more technically astute.

So if you've been considering an Android device or already have one, come to the April 1st general meeting to hear everything you always wanted to know about Android.

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DACS general meetings are usually held at the Danbury Hospital auditorium. (Click here for directions and parking information.)

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for registration and casual networking. The meeting starts at 7:00 p.m. with a question and answer period (Ask DACS), followed by announcements and a short break. The featured evening presentation begins at 8:00. The meeting is scheduled to adjourn at 9:30 p.m.

DACS general meetings are free and open to the public. Members and prior attendees are encouraged to extend invitations to anyone interested in this topic.

Danbury Area Computer Society (DACS) is a registered nonprofit and has been serving the region since 1990.

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