How does Android actually work?

lewismayell

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 24, 2013
613
21
South West England
Ok, so I hope this is the right place. But I'm just curious, it sounds like a stupid question but what I mean is, why does each phone/company running android on their phones have a different look, for example i think the GS4 and HTC one both run the same version of android but have quite a lot of difference aesthetically. Also the nexus 4 has a different look. So, sorry that was a bit long winded, but why is this?
 

viskon

macrumors 6502
Oct 20, 2012
464
10
The different looks are a way for the different manufacturers to differentiate themselves. While the base of the software is Android, manufacturers add their own unique skins, bells and whistles to give their products their unique identity.
The Nexus devices are pure Android, the way Google meant Android to be.
 

sentinelsx

macrumors 68010
Feb 28, 2011
2,004
0
Android is modular by design. Everything runs as a separate activity. You can design a launcher and your own app "activities" and replace the google made activities by yours. Hence the reason it is also so customizable.
 

0dev

macrumors 68040
Dec 22, 2009
3,947
23
127.0.0.1
Android is open source, so anyone can take it and swap out their own versions of apps before they ship it on a device. It's like Linux on PCs - Ubuntu and Mint are both based on Debian and they're essentially the same OS, but they use different window environments, different apps, etc for a different user experience.
 

b166er

macrumors 68020
Apr 17, 2010
2,062
18
Philly
That's one of my big gripes with Android, or more so, the people who hate it. Saying you use Android is like saying you drive an automobile. They come in many shapes and sizes, and so does Android. Some good, some great, some terrible.

Use a Kindle Fire VS a Nexus 7 and they share literally no resemblance. But the Fire is technically running Android.

iOS and WP8 are more or less universal regardless of the device you're using. Android is so highly tinkered with by third parties that you can be using it and not even realize it.
 

Stuntman06

macrumors 6502a
Sep 19, 2011
961
5
Metro Vancouver, B.C, Canada
That's one of my big gripes with Android, or more so, the people who hate it. Saying you use Android is like saying you drive an automobile. They come in many shapes and sizes, and so does Android. Some good, some great, some terrible.

Use a Kindle Fire VS a Nexus 7 and they share literally no resemblance. But the Fire is technically running Android.

iOS and WP8 are more or less universal regardless of the device you're using. Android is so highly tinkered with by third parties that you can be using it and not even realize it.
I think that when most people talk about Android devices, they mean devices that are approved by Google and has access to the Play Store. This excludes Amazon devices. Although the Kindle Fire does run Android, it does not have access to the Play Store. At least that is what I mean most of the time when I refer to Android.
 

mattopotamus

macrumors G5
Jun 12, 2012
13,271
3,412
I think that when most people talk about Android devices, they mean devices that are approved by Google and has access to the Play Store. This excludes Amazon devices. Although the Kindle Fire does run Android, it does not have access to the Play Store. At least that is what I mean most of the time when I refer to Android.
Actually when most people say they have android they really have no idea what they mean. They just know they don't have an iPhone. I'm not even joking... Speaking about the general public. If I said touchwiz to my friends I would get weird looks.
 

b166er

macrumors 68020
Apr 17, 2010
2,062
18
Philly
Yeah even Touchwiz VS a Nexus. They don't look that much alike, but they are both Android, and Samsung makes it abundantly clear that they use Android for their Galaxy line up. But when I first got my S4 the other day I had never used touchwiz before. So even though I'm familiar with Android, there was still a learning curve for the S4.

For the most part I like Touchwiz, some of it is not so great though. I had to put Nova Launcher on it, I feel that greatly improves the experience. For me anyway.
 

hexonxonx

macrumors 601
Jul 4, 2007
4,610
1
Denver Colorado
Yeah even Touchwiz VS a Nexus. They don't look that much alike, but they are both Android, and Samsung makes it abundantly clear that they use Android for their Galaxy line up. But when I first got my S4 the other day I had never used touchwiz before. So even though I'm familiar with Android, there was still a learning curve for the S4.

For the most part I like Touchwiz, some of it is not so great though. I had to put Nova Launcher on it, I feel that greatly improves the experience. For me anyway.
I have an two year old Samsung that uses an older version of Touchwiz. It was unusable when texting and trying to type out anything else on the phone. Once in a while on my Nexus 4 which is pure Android, I'll realize that I have typed gibberish and have to go back and redo it but this old Samsung was just plain bad. I'm sure they improved it greatly over the last two years.
 

KentuckyHouse

macrumors 68020
Jan 29, 2010
2,229
54
Lexington, KY.
Actually when most people say they have android they really have no idea what they mean. They just know they don't have an iPhone. I'm not even joking... Speaking about the general public. If I said touchwiz to my friends I would get weird looks.
Agreed. The thing that drives me crazy is when someone says they have a "Droid", but they've actually got a S3, One X, Note 2, etc. They don't understand that "Droid" is a line of phones, not a general term for Android.
 

bmac4

macrumors 601
Feb 14, 2013
4,111
1,294
Atlanta Ga
Actually when most people say they have android they really have no idea what they mean. They just know they don't have an iPhone. I'm not even joking... Speaking about the general public. If I said touchwiz to my friends I would get weird looks.
I could not agree more. All people know is if they have an iPhone or not. Try asking them what version of android they are using. One time I ask a friend at work about what version of android their phone was running. He said he had no idea, and he said he guessed he was running android. People just don't care. As long as it does what they need they could careless. Nor do people even have know how to use half the features.
 

hexonxonx

macrumors 601
Jul 4, 2007
4,610
1
Denver Colorado
I could not agree more. All people know is if they have an iPhone or not. Try asking them what version of android they are using. One time I ask a friend at work about what version of android their phone was running. He said he had no idea, and he said he guessed he was running android. People just don't care. As long as it does what they need they could careless. Nor do people even have know how to use half the features.
After six years of owning iPhones, there were features I never knew how to use or even cared to know. Is that a bad thing?

There are features on my Nexus 4 that I have no idea what they do because I don't need to know. It does everything I need it to do like my 4S.
 

bmac4

macrumors 601
Feb 14, 2013
4,111
1,294
Atlanta Ga
After six years of owning iPhones, there were features I never knew how to use or even cared to know. Is that a bad thing?

There are features on my Nexus 4 that I have no idea what they do because I don't need to know. It does everything I need it to do like my 4S.
No not a bad thing I don't guess. Just funny that companies like Samsung go crazy with all these features that people never care about or use. HTC does the same thing. At least you can use your nexus 4. You find people that unless things are put right in front of them. They would never know how to use anything other than an iphone.
 

Stuntman06

macrumors 6502a
Sep 19, 2011
961
5
Metro Vancouver, B.C, Canada
After six years of owning iPhones, there were features I never knew how to use or even cared to know. Is that a bad thing?

There are features on my Nexus 4 that I have no idea what they do because I don't need to know. It does everything I need it to do like my 4S.
Smartphones are so complex and full of features that most people use and are only aware of a small fraction of the capabilities of their phone.