Android is a mobile Operating system by Google that runs on the Linux Kernel. It is run on multiple smart phones for multiple cell phone service providers. Android is open source and has a vast development community, most notably XDA developers. The operating system is capable of running "apps," applications that can be downloaded from the Android Marketplace and other sources. There are currently over 150,000 apps available for Android. The Primary competitor to Android phones is Apple's iPhone.
Android, Inc. was founded by Andy Rubin, Rich Miner, Nick Sears, and Chris White in 2003 and was bought by Google in 2005. Rumors of Google's intentions to enter the mobile market place were numerous in 2006. Android has been under an open source license since 2008; Google has since published the entire source code under an Apache License. Though the Operating System is freeware, device manufacturers must make their devices comply with Google's Compatibility Definition Document to maintain quality.
Each new build of Android is named, alphabetically, after different dessert items, such as Eclaire and Froyo.
Android as a phone operating system is on version 2.3 (Gingerbread). Google has recently released Android 3.0 (HoneyComb) as a tablet oriented OS for larger screen devices that offer other features.
Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Inc., was originally outraged at Android's similar functionality to the iPhone, especially since he himself previously collaborated with Google and offered advice on the Android Operating System.
Android has attracted a huge community of developers due to it being open source. This "let anyone do what they will" mentality has produced many fantastic hacks and apps for the freeware OS. Though most devices do not allow total control, a process known as "rooting" (similar to "jailbreaking" for the iPhone) allows for Superuser control and further freedom over Android devices. Unlocking the bootloader on an Android phone allows the user to download custom "Roms" that change the user interface and other aspects of the phones drastically as well.
Hacking in this regard has let to fantastic creations; Google has essentially let the community decide just what their devices will do and can do.
XDA is a skillful group of extremely developers who collaberate online to unlock, hack, root, and build apps for Android. Most major hacks and breakthroughs on Android devices come from members of XDA's community.
Motorola Bootloader Lock
Motorola has recently released some of the most powerful Android phones to date, yet the encrypted and locked bootloader has put a halt on in depth development. XDA currently has a bounty of over 3000 dollars to whoever can unlock the bootloader. Groubal, an online petitioning site, has received the largest petition to date over the atrix, with over 9000 (WHAT 9000?!?) signatures (it's actually at 9120 signatures). Motorola, since getting ridiculed in a Facebook poll where the vast majority of answers asked for an unlocked bootloader on their products, has said that future changes will allow developers full control over their devices. The Atrix and Xoom (an Android tablet) are both still locked.