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Android is a mobile operating system developed by Google , based on a modified version of the Linux kernel and other open source software and designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
Variants of Android are also used on game consoles , digital cameras , PCs and other electronics. Initially developed by Android Inc. The operating system has since gone through multiple major releases, with the current version being 9.
Android is also associated with a suite of proprietary software developed by Google, called Google Mobile Services  GMS that very frequently comes pre-installed in devices, which usually includes the Google Chrome web browser and Google Search and always includes core apps for services such as Gmail , as well as the application store and digital distribution platform Google Play , and associated development platform.
These apps are licensed by manufacturers of Android devices certified under standards imposed by Google, but AOSP has been used as the basis of competing Android ecosystems, such as Amazon. Android has been the best-selling OS worldwide on smartphones since and on tablets since The name Andrew and the noun Android share the Greek root andros, which means man.
Andy Rubin picked android. That eventually became the name of the company he founded, and the name of the operating system they developed. Rubin had difficulty attracting investors early on, and Android was facing eviction from its office space. Perlman refused a stake in the company, and has stated "I did it because I believed in the thing, and I wanted to help Andy. In July ,  Google acquired Android Inc. Google marketed the platform to handset makers and carriers on the promise of providing a flexible, upgradeable system.
Speculation about Google's intention to enter the mobile communications market continued to build through December On November 5, , the Open Handset Alliance , a consortium of technology companies including Google, device manufacturers such as HTC , Motorola and Samsung , wireless carriers such as Sprint and T-Mobile , and chipset makers such as Qualcomm and Texas Instruments , unveiled itself, with a goal to develop "the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices".
In September , InformationWeek covered an Evalueserve study reporting that Google had filed several patent applications in the area of mobile telephony. Since , Android has seen numerous updates which have incrementally improved the operating system, adding new features and fixing bugs in previous releases.
Each major release is named in alphabetical order after a dessert or sugary treat, with the first few Android versions being called " Cupcake ", " Donut ", " Eclair ", and " Froyo ", in that order. In , Google launched its Nexus series of devices, a lineup in which Google partnered with different device manufacturers to produce new devices and introduce new Android versions.
The series was described as having "played a pivotal role in Android's history by introducing new software iterations and hardware standards across the board", and became known for its " bloat-free " software with "timely He left Google in August to join Chinese phone maker Xiaomi. In June , Google announced Android One , a set of "hardware reference models" that would "allow [device makers] to easily create high-quality phones at low costs", designed for consumers in developing countries.
Google introduced the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones in October , marketed as being the first phones made by Google,   and exclusively featured certain software features, such as the Google Assistant , before wider rollout.
Android's default user interface is mainly based on direct manipulation , using touch inputs that loosely correspond to real-world actions, like swiping, tapping, pinching, and reverse pinching to manipulate on-screen objects, along with a virtual keyboard.
Internal hardware, such as accelerometers , gyroscopes and proximity sensors are used by some applications to respond to additional user actions, for example adjusting the screen from portrait to landscape depending on how the device is oriented,  or allowing the user to steer a vehicle in a racing game by rotating the device, simulating control of a steering wheel.
Android devices boot to the homescreen, the primary navigation and information "hub" on Android devices, analogous to the desktop found on personal computers. Android homescreens are typically made up of app icons and widgets ; app icons launch the associated app, whereas widgets display live, auto-updating content, such as a weather forecast , the user's email inbox, or a news ticker directly on the homescreen.
Along the top of the screen is a status bar, showing information about the device and its connectivity. This status bar can be "pulled" down to reveal a notification screen where apps display important information or updates. An All Apps screen lists all installed applications, with the ability for users to drag an app from the list onto the home screen. A Recents screen lets users switch between recently used apps. Applications " apps " , which extend the functionality of devices, are written using the Android software development kit SDK  and, often, the Java programming language.
The SDK includes a comprehensive set of development tools,  including a debugger , software libraries , a handset emulator based on QEMU , documentation, sample code, and tutorials.
Android has a growing selection of third-party applications, which can be acquired by users by downloading and installing the application's APK Android application package file, or by downloading them using an application store program that allows users to install, update, and remove applications from their devices.
Google Play Store is the primary application store installed on Android devices that comply with Google's compatibility requirements and license the Google Mobile Services software. Due to the open nature of Android, a number of third-party application marketplaces also exist for Android, either to provide a substitute for devices that are not allowed to ship with Google Play Store, provide applications that cannot be offered on Google Play Store due to policy violations, or for other reasons.
F-Droid , another alternative marketplace, seeks to only provide applications that are distributed under free and open source licenses. Since Android devices are usually battery-powered, Android is designed to manage processes to keep power consumption at a minimum.
When an application is not in use the system suspends its operation so that, while available for immediate use rather than closed, it does not use battery power or CPU resources. While gaining support for bit platforms, Android was first made to run on bit x86 and then on ARM Android devices incorporate many optional hardware components, including still or video cameras, GPS , orientation sensors , dedicated gaming controls, accelerometers , gyroscopes , barometers, magnetometers , proximity sensors , pressure sensors , thermometers, and touchscreens.
Some hardware components are not required, but became standard in certain classes of devices, such as smartphones, and additional requirements apply if they are present. Some other hardware was initially required, but those requirements have been relaxed or eliminated altogether.
For example, as Android was developed initially as a phone OS, hardware such as microphones were required, while over time the phone function became optional. In addition to running on smartphones and tablets, several vendors run Android natively on regular PC hardware with a keyboard and mouse. Android is developed by Google until the latest changes and updates are ready to be released, at which point the source code is made available to the Android Open Source Project AOSP ,  an open source initiative led by Google.
Google announces major incremental upgrades to Android on a yearly basis. Compared to its primary rival mobile operating system, Apple 's iOS , Android updates typically reach various devices with significant delays. Except for devices within the Google Nexus and Pixel brands, updates often arrive months after the release of the new version, or not at all.
The extensive variation of hardware in Android devices causes significant delays for software upgrades, with new versions of the operating system and security patches typically taking months before reaching consumers, or sometimes not at all. The lack of after-sale support from manufacturers and carriers has been widely criticized by consumer groups and the technology media. In , Google began decoupling certain aspects of the operating system particularly its core applications so they could be updated through the Google Play store independently of the OS.
One of those components, Google Play Services , is a closed-source system-level process providing APIs for Google services, installed automatically on nearly all devices running Android 2. With these changes, Google can add new system functionality through Play Services and update apps without having to distribute an upgrade to the operating system itself. In May , Bloomberg reported that Google was making efforts to keep Android more up-to-date, including accelerated rates of security updates, rolling out technological workarounds, reducing requirements for phone testing, and ranking phone makers in an attempt to "shame" them into better behavior.
As stated by Bloomberg: Wireless carriers were described in the report as the "most challenging discussions", due to carriers' slow approval time due to testing on their networks, despite some carriers, including Verizon and Sprint , having already shortened their respective approval times.
HTC 's then-executive Jason Mackenzie called monthly security updates "unrealistic" in , and Google was trying to persuade carriers to exclude security patches from the full testing procedures. In a further effort for persuasion, Google shared a list of top phone makers measured by updated devices with its Android partners, and is considering making the list public.
Mike Chan, co-founder of phone maker Nextbit and former Android developer, said that "The best way to solve this problem is a massive re-architecture of the operating system", "or Google could invest in training manufacturers and carriers "to be good Android citizens"". In May , with the announcement of Android 8. Project Treble separates the vendor implementation device-specific, lower-level software written by silicon manufacturers from the Android OS framework via a new "vendor interface".
With Treble, the new stable vendor interface provides access to the hardware-specific parts of Android, enabling device makers to deliver new Android releases simply by updating the Android OS framework, "without any additional work required from the silicon manufacturers.
In September , Google's Project Treble team revealed that, as part of their efforts to improve the security lifecycle of Android devices, Google had managed to get the Linux Foundation to agree to extend the support lifecycle of the Linux Long-Term Support LTS kernel branch from the 2 years that it has historically lasted to 6 years for future versions of the LTS kernel, starting with Linux kernel 4. Android's kernel is based on the Linux kernel 's long-term support LTS branches.
As of , Android targets versions 4. Android's variant of the Linux kernel has further architectural changes that are implemented by Google outside the typical Linux kernel development cycle, such as the inclusion of components like device trees, ashmem, ION, and different out of memory OOM handling.
In August , Linus Torvalds said that "eventually Android and Linux would come back to a common kernel, but it will probably not be for four to five years". The interfaces are the same but the upstream Linux implementation allows for two different suspend modes: However, root access can be obtained by exploiting security flaws in Android, which is used frequently by the open-source community to enhance the capabilities of their devices,  but also by malicious parties to install viruses and malware.
Android is a Linux distribution according to the Linux Foundation ,  Google's open-source chief Chris DiBona ,  and several journalists. With the release of Android Oreo in , Google began to require that devices shipped with new SoCs had Linux kernel version 4. Existing devices upgraded to Oreo, and new products launched with older SoCs, were exempt from this rule. On top of the Linux kernel, there are the middleware , libraries and APIs written in C , and application software running on an application framework which includes Java -compatible libraries.
Development of the Linux kernel continues independently of Android's other source code projects. Following the trace-based JIT principle, in addition to interpreting the majority of application code, Dalvik performs the compilation and native execution of select frequently executed code segments "traces" each time an application is launched. Bionic itself has been designed with several major features specific to the Linux kernel.
At the same time, Bionic is licensed under the terms of the BSD licence , which Google finds more suitable for the Android's overall licensing model. Android does not have a native X Window System by default, nor does it support the full set of standard GNU libraries. In current versions of Android, " Toybox ", a collection of command line utilities mostly for use by apps, as Android doesn't provide a command line interface by default , is used since the release of Marshmallow replacing a similar "Toolbox" collection found in previous Android versions.
Android's source code is released by Google under an open source license , and its open nature has encouraged a large community of developers and enthusiasts to use the open-source code as a foundation for community-driven projects, which deliver updates to older devices, add new features for advanced users or bring Android to devices originally shipped with other operating systems.
Historically, device manufacturers and mobile carriers have typically been unsupportive of third-party firmware development. Manufacturers express concern about improper functioning of devices running unofficial software and the support costs resulting from this. As a result, technical obstacles including locked bootloaders and restricted access to root permissions are common in many devices.
However, as community-developed software has grown more popular, and following a statement by the Librarian of Congress in the United States that permits the " jailbreaking " of mobile devices,  manufacturers and carriers have softened their position regarding third party development, with some, including HTC ,  Motorola ,  Samsung   and Sony ,  providing support and encouraging development.
As a result of this, over time the need to circumvent hardware restrictions to install unofficial firmware has lessened as an increasing number of devices are shipped with unlocked or unlockable bootloaders , similar to Nexus series of phones, although usually requiring that users waive their devices' warranties to do so.
They are reportedly able to read almost all smartphone information, including SMS, location, emails, and notes. GCHQ has, according to The Guardian , a wiki -style guide of different apps and advertising networks, and the different data that can be siphoned from each. The documents revealed a further effort by the intelligence agencies to intercept Google Maps searches and queries submitted from Android and other smartphones to collect location information in bulk.
Leaked documents published by WikiLeaks, codenamed Vault 7 and dated from —, detail the capabilities of the Central Intelligence Agency CIA to perform electronic surveillance and cyber warfare , including the ability to compromise the operating systems of most smartphones including Android. Research from security company Trend Micro lists premium service abuse as the most common type of Android malware, where text messages are sent from infected phones to premium-rate telephone numbers without the consent or even knowledge of the user.
Other malware displays unwanted and intrusive advertisements on the device, or sends personal information to unauthorised third parties. In August , Google announced that devices in the Google Nexus series would begin to receive monthly security patches.
Google also wrote that "Nexus devices will continue to receive major updates for at least two years and security patches for the longer of three years from initial availability or 18 months from last sale of the device via the Google Store. Google was starting from scratch with zero percent market share, so it was happy to give up control and give everyone a seat at the table in exchange for adoption.
As such, security has become a big issue. Android still uses a software update chain-of-command designed back when the Android ecosystem had zero devices to update, and it just doesn't work".
And a bunch of broken promises".
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