Mobile operating systems: What’s the difference and which is best?
Android, iOS or Windows Phone – which operating system is best? Here’s a closer look at each, along with an explanation of their differences.
If you’re in the market for a new smartphone, you might be wondering about the different operating systems.
To help you choose the right one for your needs, here’s a closer look at how mobile operating systems work and the differences between them.
What’s a mobile operating system?
A mobile operating system, also known as a ‘mobile OS’, is software especially designed for handheld devices such as smartphones, tablets and personal digital assistants (PDAs).
Think of your operating system like computerised instructions for your device. It manages all of your phone’s functions and features, interprets keystrokes and swipes, and connects you to mobile and Wi-Fi networks.
A mobile operating system provides many of the same functions seen on personal computers, with a host of nifty additional features specially geared to mobile devices. These include touchscreen functionality, GPS mobile navigation, bluetooth, near field communication (NFC) technology, and much more.
What are the three main operating systems?
• Android OS. Android is an open source mobile operating system developed by Google. It is the OS of choice for a variety of handheld device manufacturers, including Samsung, Sony, LG, HTC, Motorola and, of course, Google. The most recent version is Android 6.0, aka Marshmallow, soon to be followed by 7.0, code name Nougat.
• Apple iOS. Created by Apple, iOS is a popular mobile operating system used on all iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch. iOS is a proprietary (closed source) mobile operating system, which means it can only be found on Apple products. There have been new releases of the iOS operating system almost every year since it launched in 2007. The current version is iOS 9, which is to be followed by iOS 10 in late 2016.
• Windows Phone (WP). Windows Phone is a proprietary mobile OS from Microsoft that features a unique interface with interchangeable tiles. The current version is Windows 10 Mobile, released November 2015.
What are the differences?
Android is the most widely used mobile operating system on the planet. In the first quarter of 2016, 84.1 per cent of all smartphones sold to end users had the Android OS. Compatible with 2.2 million apps (and counting), it offers users flexibility, adaptability and ties in seamlessly with Google services such Gmail, Google Docs and Google Photos. Android also offers Widgets, which are not available on any other OS.
According to What Phone, some people may find there is a higher learning curve when it comes to getting the hang of Android devices.
A simple and elegant operating system, iOS provides a reliable and consistent user experience across all Apple devices. It is also compatible with 2 million apps, including the popular video chat product FaceTime, which is only available on iOS.
On the other hand, there is less flexibility when it comes to customisation, and prices of iOS devices tend to be towards the high end of the scale.
Although not as popular as Android and Apple’s iOS, Windows Phone offers a reliable and personalised user experience and is fully compatible with other Microsoft products. The downside here is that there are a limited number of apps available compared to Android and iOS devices.
Which system is right for me?
As with most things, which mobile operating system is right for you really depends on your individual needs.
To help you decide, here’s a look at some of the benefits of each:
• If you like to personalise your phone, Android allows you to customise your battery indicator, contact list, audio and accessibility settings and much more.
• Android devices come in a wide range of screen sizes, weights and prices to fit your budget.
• Features time-saving widgets, which are not available on any other mobile OS.
• A good choice if you’re a fan of Google products and services.
• With its clean and intuitive interface, iOS offers simplicity and reliability right out of the box.
• Integrates seamlessly with other Apple products and services, such as iTunes and iCloud.
• Is compatible with a wide range of apps and Apple accessories.
• A good choice for first-time smartphone users or those who already own Apple products.
• Offers functionality, convenience and an easy-to-use interface.
• Integrates easily with Microsoft software, such as Office, PowerPoint and Exchange.
• Features an innovative tile-based interface, aka ‘Metro’, and functional hubs that allow you to organise data quickly and easily.
• A good option for people who rely on Microsoft products for everyday tasks.
How do I know what operating system a phone is on?
If you’re shopping for a new phone, the operating system version can be found listed in the product specification.
Or, if you already have your smartphone in hand, check the settings to identify the current operating system. Remember, every time you update your phone’s OS, the version will be upgraded.
Whichever mobile OS floats your boat, let us help you find the right phone and plan for your needs. Compare different plans from our participating mobile provider today.