Android is today’s fastest-growing smartphone platform, both for its wide handset support, as well as the open nature of its application ecosystem. Small wonder why other platforms are also banking on Android’s success, with various spin-offs and forks of the platform. Some, like Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Baidu’s Yi OS, use a proprietary UI atop Android underpinnings. Meanwhile, other platforms run apps meant for Android.
Alibaba’s Aliyun smartphone operating system is one such platform that can run Android applications through a virtual machine. Aliyun and Android actually share their Linux underpinnings, and so it’s not that difficult to run Android apps without the need to port these into a different platform.
But apart from Android apps, Aliyun actually has a decent app repository, although these are mostly in HTML5 format, meaning these are mobile web apps designed to act like independent applications. The app store now allows users to install Android apps via the web interface, which can be used to manage apps on the smartphone. Meanwhile, other Android smartphone and tablet users can actually visit the Aliyun app store and download .APK files directly, too, which are actually Android app installers.
The Aliyun phone platform launched in 2011, amid lackluster sales performance. Alibaba says the company is satisfied with progress so far, given that this is their first big move into mobile. A tablet computer is reportedly due “very soon.”
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