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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How many mobile operating systems are there? (Campus Essentials)

Mobile operating system


A mobile operating system, also referred to as mobile OS, is the operating system that operates a smartphone, tablet, PDA, or other digital mobile devices. Modern mobile operating systems combine the features of a personal computer operating system with touchscreen, cellular, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS mobile navigation, camera, video camera, speech recognition, voice recorder, music player, Near field communication, personal digital assistant (PDA), and other features.


Mobile Operating Systems

Not sure what a smartphone mobile phone operating system is, or why you might need one? Unclear on what mobile operating systems are available and which one is most suitable for you? Read our guide below to find out. 

What is a mobile phone operating system?


Long gone are the days when mobile phones were just a device to make phone calls and occasional texts. Now they are handheld computers, where we can send emails, play games, watch the news and make video calls to loved ones. More commonly, these are known as 'smartphones'.

We have operating systems to run our desktop computers and laptops, and smartphones use them too, to introduce advanced functions to a mobile phone that were only available on our computers before. 

Functionality is a big selling point for the smartphone - there were more than 400 million smartphone worldwide and it's their operating systems that define what functions they can carry out and how the phone manages its memory.
It is also a platform so developers can create applications or 'apps' (software programs developed for smartphones that can carry out specific functions).

There are hundreds of thousands of apps available and they are constantly being developed - each with their own purpose. For instance, you may download a weather app that tells you the current temperature or chances of rain in your city, a news app or widget that sends the latest headlines straight to your device's homescreen, or a game to simply pass the time.

How do I know what operating system my mobile phone has?


Because operating systems are so integrated with the look, feel and function of a mobile phone, many people base their choice of device around which operating system it uses.

If you have already bought your smartphone, the name and version of its software should be detailed in the settings menu. However, if you are buying a new phone, the operating system can be found the handset's specifications information.

What different kinds of smartphone operating systems are there?


Some are open source software, which means there are no restrictions on what you can download on it, or who can develop its software (there are often a 'community' of developers) - it is entirely customisable, whilst others are restricted in the types of software permitted to run on the device.

Some of the best-known mobile operating systems include:



The Apple iOS multi-touch, multi-tasking operating system is what runs the Apple's iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

It responds to the user's touch - allowing you to tap on the screen to open a program, pinch your fingers together to minimise or enlarge an image, or swipe your finger across the screen to change pages.

The Apple iOS is not allowed to be used in third party systems, so you will only be able to use it on products made by Apple. It comes with the Safari web browser for internet use, an iPod application for playing music and Apple's Mail for managing your missives.

You can download more than 500,000 applications currently available on the App Store directly to any device running iOS, be it an iPhone or an iPad. These encompass everything from accessing recipes to playing the guitar or working on your documents on the move.



Android OS is owned by Google and powered by the Linux kernel, which can be found on a wide range of devices. 

Android is an open source operating system which allows developers to access unlocked hardware and develop new programs as they wish.

This means unlimited access to any anyone who wants to develop apps for the phone and places very little restriction on its licensing, so users benefit from a tonne of free content.

Android is currently the fastest growing smartphone operating system in the market and is expected to become the dominant platform in a few years due to its tremendous traction with a wide spectrum of users.

Some of the best features of Android include the ability to customise multiple homescreens with useful widgets and apps that give you quicker, easier access to the content and functions you most care about. It also has an excellent capacity for multitasking - with the ability to close programs simply swiping them away. 

Last but not least, the Android Market, which is the Android equivalent of the Apple App Store is home to more than 370,000 apps, many of which are completely free.

Windows Phone 

Microsoft released its latest version of the Windows platform for mobiles in late 2010, which has been redesigned and rebuilt from the ground up with a greater emphasis on the user experience. It is recognisable by its tile-based interface - dubbed Metro - which features removable and interchangeable squares sections on the home screen, each with its own purpose and function.

It also has aggregators called 'hubs', that group together all photos from all applications, or all music into one library, meaning your Facebook photos can be found with your camera photos and your documents from different sources grouped together in one, easy to access location.

Windows Phone comes with a mobile-optimised version of the Internet Explorer for accessing the web, and Exchange, which supports secure corporate e-mail accounts with push support.

Symbian OS from Nokia and Accenture


Symbian is Nokia's own operating system and is now mainly used on mid to low-end handsets since Nokia announced it would be migrating its flagship efforts to Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system.

Symbian's strength is in bringing smartphone functionality - including e-mail, apps and multitasking - to handsets at the lower end of the market and in emerging markets.

Like most smartphone operating systems, you can download apps on a Symbian device and customise it to your liking with widgets and shortcuts. You can also get free maps and turn by turn navigation from Nokia and other useful tools installed out of the box, such as a document viewing and editing suite.

bada from Samsung Electronics 

This is a mobile operating system being developed by Samsung Electronics. Samsung claims that bada will rapidly replace its proprietary feature phone platform, converting feature phones to smartphones.The name 'bada' is derived from 바다, the Korean word for ocean or sea. The first device to run bada is called 'Wave' and was unveiled to the public at Mobile World Congress 2010. The Wave is a fully touchscreen running the new mobile operating system. With the phone, Samsung also released an app store, called Samsung Apps, to the public. It has close to 3000 mobile applications. 

Samsung has said that they don't see Bada as a smartphone operating system, but as an OS with a kernel configurable architecture, which allows the use of either a proprietary real-time operating system, or the Linux kernel. Though Samsung plans to install bada on many phones, the company still has a large lineup of Android phones.
BlackBerry OS from RIM
This OS is focused on easy operation and was originally designed for business. Recently it has seen a surge in third-party applications and has been improved to offer full multimedia support. Currently Blackberry's App World has over 50,000 downloadable applications. RIM's future strategy will focus on the newly acquired QNX, having already launched the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet running a version of QNX and expecting the first QNX smartphones in early 2012.
Palm OS/Garnet OS from Access Co. 
webOS was introduced by Palm in January 2009 as the successor to Palm OS with Web 2.0 technologies, open architecture, and multitasking capabilities.
Brew from Qualcomm 
Brew is used by some mobile phone manufacturers and mobile networks, however most often the end-user does not know this since mobile phones running Brew most often lack any Brew branding. Brew runs in the background with the custom "skins" of the mobile phone manufacturer or operator on-top. Brew is used by Sprint Nextel, metroPCS, U.S. Cellular and Verizon in the US and by the Three network in much of Europe, the UK and Australia on many mobile phones produced especially for their network. Manufacturers such as LG CDMA, Huawei, INQ Mobile, Amoi, and Samsung Mobile amongst others use Brew in some of their mobile phones and it is featured in Three UK phones such as the 3 Skypephone, INQ1 and Huawei u7510 (3 Touch). Two of HTC's mobile phones use Brew's successor Brew MP.
MeeGo from non-profit organization The Linux Foundation (open source, GPL)
At the 2010 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Nokia and Intel both unveiled 'MeeGo' a brand new mobile operating system which would combine the best of Moblin and the best of Maemo to create a truly open-sourced experience for users across all devices. As of 2011, Nokia has announced that it will no longer be pursuing MeeGo and will instead adopt Windows Phone as its primary mobile OS. Nokia announced the Nokia N9 on June 21, 2011 at the Nokia Connection event in Singapore. The phone is presumed to become available to the public in September 2011. LG announced its support for the platform.
Maemo from Nokia (open source, GPL)
Maemo is a software platform developed by Nokia for smartphones and Internet tablets. It is based on the Debian operating system. 
Maemo is mostly based on open source code, and has been developed by Maemo Devices within Nokia in collaboration with many open source projects such as the Linux kernel, Debian and GNOME. 
Maemo is based on Debian GNU/Linux and draws much of its GUI, frameworks and libraries from the GNOME project. It uses the Matchbox window manager and the GTK-based Hildon as its GUI and application framework.
Nucleus from Mentor Graphics 
Nucleus OS is a real-time operating system (RTOS) and toolset created by the Embedded Systems Division of Mentor Graphics for various central processing unit (CPU) platforms. The Nucleus RTOS is designed for embedded systems applications including consumer electronics, set-top boxes, cellular phones, and other portable and handheld devices. For limited memory systems Nucleus RTOS can be scaled down to a memory footprint as small as 13 KB for both code and data. Manufacturers such as Motorola, Samsung, LG, Siemens/Benq, Sagem, Pantech, and NEC use Nucleus in some of their mobile phones. The last devices released that used Nucleus OS are LG Encore (GT550), LG Prime (GS390), and Pantech Pursuit (P9020).
Some of the expected mobile operating systems in future

Aliyun OS from Alibaba/AliCloud (cloud based) 
AliCloud's operating system revolves around the idea of bringing cloud functionality to the mobile platform. According to the company, Aliyun will feature cloud-based e-mail, Web search, weather updates, and GPS navigation tools. In addition, the operating system will synchronize and store call data, text messages, and photos in the cloud for access across other devices, including PCs. Alibaba says it will offer customers 100GB of storage at launch. the operating system would allow users to access applications from the Web, rather than download apps to their devices.
BlackBerry 10 from RIM 
BlackBerry 10 (previously BlackBerry BBX) the next generation platform for BlackBerry smartphones and tablets. In other words, there will be only one OS for both Blackberry smartphones and tablets going forward.
Firefox OS from non-profit organization Mozilla Foundation
According to Ars Technica, "Mozilla says that B2G is motivated by a desire to demonstrate that the standards-based open Web has the potential to be a competitive alternative to the existing single-vendor application development stacks offered by the dominant mobile operating systems."
Tizen from non-profit organization The Linux Foundation
Tizen is an open source project hosted by the Linux Foundation, with Intel and Samsung leading its development steering group, and support from the LiMo Foundation. According to Intel, Tizen “combines the best of LiMo and MeeGo." HTML5 apps will be emphasized for the new OS, with the MeeGo project encouraging its members to transition to Tizen, stating that the "future belongs to HTML5-based applications, outside of a relatively small percentage of apps, and we are firmly convinced that our investment needs to shift toward HTML5." Tizen will be targeted at a variety of platforms such as handsets, tablets, smart TVs and in-vehicle entertainment. The initial release of Tizen is targeted for Q1 2012, with the first devices using the OS planned to reach the market in mid 2012.
Windows 8 from Microsoft
Microsoft announced that Windows 8 will support tablet devices as well as PCs.
Windows RT from Microsoft 
Microsoft announced Windows RT. an OS design for only tablets and can only run on arm. This version also resembles windows 8. Windows RT cannot run x86 programs. Apps can be only downloaded from the windows store. This version also has Microsoft office 2013 preinstalled on every Windows RT device.

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