You know what a mobile phone is, and most likely what an iPhone is. But you might not know what it means when someone refers to Android.

In a confusing world of technology, Android holds an important place although it can be a bit tricky to get your head round why. Here’s the basics on Android.

What is Android?

Android is the name of the operating system used on many smartphones and tablets.

It is owned and maintained by Google. Google bought Android in 2005 and launched it for phones and tablets in 2007, the same year Apple released the first iPhone.

An operating system is basically what appears on the screen on a touchscreen device – the underlying software that you interact with. This is different to apps you can download to use for it like you can on most smartphones.

Is Android the same as iPhone?

Not quite. Apple’s famous iPhones run a different operating system called iOS. iPhones don’t run Android, but Android phone can often look the same thanks to the look of app icons on the screen and similar phone designs.

Samsung, a manufacturer of phones that run Android, even got in legal trouble for allegedly copying the look of iPhones.

Unlike Apple, Google lets any company use Android. This means that while a Google phone will run Android, so will every phone made by Samsung, LG, HTC and many more

This is because Android is open source – this means Google lets companies use the basic version of Android and then change its look to suit how that company wants it to look on its phones. That’s why not all Android phones look the same when you turn them on.

Is Android better than iPhone?

There is no right answer – it depends what you prefer. iPhones are quite easy to use and have a premium feel, whereas Android is more customisable and there are literally hundreds of different phones to choose from that aren’t always premium.

This is because any phone at any price can technically run Android, though an £800 phone will run it faster than a £200 one.

Google keeps it this way, and it means that despite the popularity of iPhones in the West, Android is actually the best-selling smartphone operating system worldwide since 2011.

Is Android secure?

A lot of people say Android is ‘less secure’ than Apple iPhones, but this isn’t always true. Apple does keep its operating system tightly guarded and famously has excellent security. But if you buy an Android phone and are sensible about only downloading safe, familiar apps then you should be absolutely fine