If you're interested in mobile devices of any kind, you probably know that Google's open-source operating system (OS) for phones and tablets is called Android. But where did the name come from?
Android, Inc. was founded in 2003 as a mobile technology development company aimed at leveraging both the "smart" features of mobile phones, such as geolocation, as well as the personal nature of the device, i.e. its owner's interests and activities. Google acquired the company two years later as part of its initial foray into the mobile technology market.
Lots of high-tech companies have names that sound unusual or even random. Google itself is a good example! But in the case of Android, there does seem to have been some logic at work. Android robots are machines designed to look and act human. The second part of that is harder than the first, since the ability to think is largely what distinguishes human beings from other living creatures. Artificial intelligence breaks down "thinking" for machines into a number of separate processes, including observation of the environment, and sensing and responding to different kinds of stimuli.
At an extremely basic level, this is what the sensors built into smartphones are designed to do. Geolocation is what allows an app to give you a suggestion for a restaurant in the area where you live, for example. But communication based on the data drawn from sensors, cameras and satellites is not just a dialogue between the smartphone and you. Both the phone and its apps send that same information back to the app developer, to the Internet service provider, the OS developer and even the handset manufacturer. (Which also explains how apps can be free.)
The next step in this form of communication is for your phone or other mobile device to start "talking" with other devices and physical objects around you in the physical world. Such machine-to-machine interaction will allow your washing machine to send you a text message when your laundry is done, for example, but could also help whole cities manage their water supplies and electrical grids more efficiently.
They may not look much like the helpful humanoid robots we know from the movies, such as C3PO
from Star Wars, but it might also turn out that the smartphones, smart machines and Android in our world will relate to us in ways we had not previously imagined.