Author photo

By Greg Cunningham
owner of Tech-hachapi 

Phone sensors, why Android, Super Bowl

Tech Talk


February 4, 2023

Greg Cunningham.

Smartphones have replaced desktop and laptop computers for many people. Checking and responding to emails, taking photos, shooting videos, playing games, watching movies, shopping, texting and making phone calls. All from a device that fits in your hand.

But, when you're looking at a photo or watching a movie, how does your phone "know" to rotate the screen when you turn the phone sideways?


Smartphones have many sensors; it takes three in particular for your phone to "know" to rotate your screen.

The first sensor is the accelerometer. An accelerometer detects acceleration as a rate of change in the velocity of an object. The accelerometer in a smartphone detects acceleration in three directions: side to side, up and down, and forward and backward. But gravity messes that up a bit, skewing the data. So the accelerometer needs some help to sort out the effects of gravity.

That help comes from the gyroscope. The gyroscope measures the phone's rotation, and it isn't bothered by that pesky gravity as the gyroscope only references itself. But since the gyroscope compares the current position of your phone to the previous position, it can accumulate gyroscopic drift. So the accelerometer's gravity information combined with the rotational input from the gyroscope enables an accurate acceleration calculation.

A magnetometer is the last sensor needed to determine your screen's orientation. The magnetometer points out true north like a compass. That, combined with acceleration and gravitational information, enables your phone to calculate its relative position and adjust the screen to fit that YouTube video you're watching.

How Android got its name

Most people know Google's operating system for phones and Chromebooks is called Android, but why is it named that?

In 2003, Andy Rubin, Rich Miner, Nick Sears and Chris White created an operating system (OS) for digital cameras. Next, they started Android Inc. to market their new OS to camera companies. Eventually, they realized their OS could apply to more than digital cameras. And in 2005, Google bought Android Inc., and the four friends went to work for Google two years before Apple launched its first smartphone in 2007. Google's first Android phone, the T-Mobile G1, came out in 2008. And Android and Apple have been battling for market share ever since.

But why is it named Android?

Way back in the 1700s, somewhere, people started using the term android to refer to human-looking mechanical devices. Andy Rubin worked at Apple from 1989 to 1992. While there, his coworkers gave him the nickname Android because of his love of robots. He liked it so much that he took as his website until 2008.

Andy Rubin is no longer at Google, but his nickname lives on.

Streaming the Super Bowl

Cord-cutters and streaming-only TV viewers can watch the Super Bowl, although maybe not for free. It's being carried live on Fox Sports, so check their website or app on your phone or your streaming device of choice. If you've got an NFL Game Pass subscription, you can watch it there. And you can also watch it on subscriptions to live TV packages from YouTubeTV, SlingTV, Roku, and others.

Kickoff is 3:30 PM PST on February 12 from State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Phone Shopping

A woman went shopping at a phone store. While trying to decide whether to choose Apple or Android, she struck up a conversation with the salesperson. During the conversation the woman expressed how tired she felt, to which the salesperson replied, There's a nap for that."

Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has provided Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2024

Rendered 05/20/2024 18:53