Operating system

Android is an open-source mobile operating system developed by Google and licensed to phone manufacturers. Android manages the device’s hardware and software resources to provide a platform for apps to use.

There are currently 13 versions of Android. The older versions are named after sweets. The newer versions offer more features and improved security. Currently, the most common versions, newest to oldest, are Android 13 (v13), Android 12 (v12), Android 11 (v11), Android 10 (v10), Pie (v9), Oreo (v8), Nougat (v7), Marshmallow (v6), Lollipop (v5) and KitKat (v4.4).

Each version of the operating system provides a set of features to apps, this is known as the API level (Application Programming Interface). For example, Android 11 uses API level 30 (i.e. on this device an app can’t use features from API level 31 – apps are limited to the older set of features).

Google provides updates on a regular basis, mainly for security vulnerabilities. The level of update installed is known as the Security patch level and is a date. It is important to ensure you have fairly recent security patch updates.

Security patch updates are typically delivered to phones through OTA (Over The Air) updates from the phone manufacturer or your carrier. Typically you will be prompted by your phone when an update is available for download and installation.

Similarly, OTA is typically used when the next major version of Android is available for your phone and you will be prompted by your phone if you want to download and install the update. For example, upgrading from Android 10 to Android 11. The device manufacturer will determine if they will support the latest version of Android for your phone. You can check with the phone manufacturer if a major Android update is available.

System uptime shows the duration since the device was last turned on. This can be interesting if it is less than a day (or so) as most users don’t turn their phone off and a short uptime duration may flag that the device is restarting due to a hardware problem.

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