Today I'd like to talk about mobile operating systems. Technology has evolved to a point where you can incorporate a whole operating system in a small, yet sophisticated handheld device. Today's smartphones can do all sorts of tasks, ranging from the classic calling and messaging feature, to the more complex operations such as internet browsing, sending emails, booking flights or even navigating with the help of GPS. But with the benefit of so many advanced operating systems comes the difficulty of choosing one.
Operating systems that can be found on smartphones include Nokia's Symbian, Google's Android, Apple iOS, RIM's BlackBerry OS, Microsoft's Windows Phone, Linux, Palm/HP's WebOS, Samsung's Bada, Nokia's Maemo and MeeGo among many others.
After only 3 years since its release, Google's Linux based OS has managed to place itself on the second spot in Market Share Sales (Q3 2010), being surpassed only by Symbian (worldwide) and iOS (in the US).
With the Android release in November 2007 began the epic battle between Google and Apple. The two companies that developed the best mobile operating systems have been fighting ever since, but it seems now, even with Apple's release of the iPhone 4 and iPad & iPad2, that Android is winning.
- I think this is mainly because Android is an open source operating system, that is continuously developed and perfected. Developers and manufacturers are free to implement and change Android in any way that they would like, which opens up the platform to tons of new ideas and innovations. Granted these changes aren’t always for the better, but the potential for a developer or manufacturer to create something unique and customized using Android is there – thanks to the fact that it is open sourced.
- Another important factor is hardware choice you have with Android OS, compared to the select products produced by Apple which come with iOS. Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone is a beautiful phone in terms of hardware, but what if you want a phone with the same (or more) software abilities, but with a QWERTY keyboard, or a smaller phone, or (and you probably want this) a cheaper one? Unlike the iOS, Android comes on a wide range of products. With new Android phones coming out every week it seems, the potential for outstanding devices is massive. I am always looking forward to all the Android phones which are released very often.
- Multitasking! Yeah, I know iPhone “has” multitasking, but let’s face it, Apple never did real multitasking. Apps (except for the radio and GPS) never do run in the background. Instead they are paused and resumed when you switch back to them. With Android, ever since version 1.0, it had proper multitasking, with multiple applications running at the same time. You can also acces the 8 recently used apps by holding the Home button (similar to the iPhone’s double press).
- While I’m at it, I might as well talk about the one button concept iPhone is selling to this day. Sure it seemed revolutionary and fun at first, but after using it for a while you realise it’s not enough. Coming back to Android, you have four main buttons. The Home button returns you to the Home screen whenever you need it, but you already had that. The welcomed additions are: a back button, a Menu button which brings up different Options for whenever you need to modify something on your current screen and, of course, the Search button, which allows you to search on Google, your music or your apps.
- If you have ever used an iPhone or an iPad, you have probably noticed some incompatibility issues with some websites. This is because most websites contain Flash based objects and Apple does not support Flash in their projects. Android, on the other hand, since version 2.2 fully supports Flash content (provided that your phone’s processor is powerful enough). This results in an improved online viewing experience.
- Last but not least, one of my favorite things about Android is the widget implementation. This really handy feature lets you see real time information on the widget, use them as a shortcut for turning on Bluetooth or Wi-fi, changing songs or your Facebook status.
I guess it’s clear who my vote goes to in this mobile OS war. But I also want to hear your opinions. Which OS do you think is best and why?