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I’m learning about the partitions of Android and in one place, they say that the system partition contains the Android framework (https://source.android.com/docs/core/architecture/partitions)

system partition. This partition contains the Android framework.

while on another page, they say that it contains the Android operating system and ROM (https://web.archive.org/web/20221206114048/https://www.codelivly.com/android-partitions-explained-in-simple-terms-layout/)

/system: This partition contains the Android operating system.

So, are the Android framework and the operating system the same thing? Is framework another word for an operating system? No matter how much I google it, I can't find a direct answer to this question.

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  • OS is the code that runs on a device and allows the users to interact with the hardware components. Linux is the core OS (kernel) on which Android runs. Framework defines how an OS is exposed to the developers so that they can write applications for that OS. So from an end user's perspective Android is an OS. From an app developer's perspective Android is a framework which exposes Java APIs. Jan 24, 2023 at 17:25
  • @IrfanLatif. A simple answer here, are framework and os the same thing? So can framework mean operating system? Im learning thats why Im asking… On the android source site they write framework because they are developers?
    – Kandx9
    Jan 24, 2023 at 18:08
  • Almost all operating systems are frameworks, but not all frameworks are operating systems. Your confusion is not mainly about Android but OS vs framework. source.android.com explains Android as an OS (for OEMs and ROM developers). developer.android.com explains Android as a framework (for app developers). system/vendor partitions contain all the executable code, shared libraries, configurations etc. which the Android OS as well as the third-party apps need to run. Jan 24, 2023 at 19:00
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    Related: How to quickly understand the Android UI Jan 24, 2023 at 19:05
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    with regards to what partitions are concerned, "yes" it's the "same thing" Is Android based upon Linux?
    – alecxs
    Jan 24, 2023 at 23:18

1 Answer 1

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The Android framework is part of the operating system. The Android operating system has a lot of components. Here's a diagram from the Android developer documentation.

  1. The system apps are Android applications that provide the tools everyone uses on a smartphone: 'phone dialler, e-mail, calendar, camera, and so on.
  2. Those do most of their work by using functions from the Java API framework.
  3. The next layer of the stack is native-code libraries which either do computational heavy lifting for the Java framework, or actually run the Java (or Kotlin) code that most apps are written in.

Android stack diagram

  1. The Hardware Abstraction Layer provides standardised interfaces to hardware. For example the Camera app will check what cameras exist via the Camera HAL and send commands to it to actually take pictures.

  2. The Linux kernel manages the computer aspects of the device, starts and stops apps, and so on. Power management is mostly done here, and is absolutely vital to give devices reasonable battery life. The kernel also contains the device drivers, which are quite specific to the hardware of the 'phone or tablet it's running on.

All of these parts of Android are built and put together by the device manufacturer, in the "ROM". That certainly contains the Android Framework, which is the part of the operating system that most apps interact with, but it also contains all the other software in the stack.

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