Operating Systems that power a Smartphone, Part 1 – Introduction
This is the first in a three-part series on Operating Systems that power a Smartphone. Here the focus is on introducing the concept of a Smartphone in general and identifying a couple of operating systems like iOS, Android and Windows Mobile. In Part 2 other operating systems such as Blackberry, Symbian, Bada and Maemo will be talked about. And Part 3 includes an infographic on the history and facts related to the same.
Everytime I recall the time when mobile phones got introduced in India, I am pleasantly surprised to visualize the evolution graph. But then, that’s technology for you!
Do you remember your first mobile phone? I definitely do, with every detail intact! Also, I remember reading about phones which work like handheld computers, the Smart Phones and how I longed to own one, someday.
Anyhow, the smartphones are here! And almost everyone of us, is well informed of the latest mobile devices available on the shelf. Of course, the number of smartphones available at present is huge. The factor which has always kept me curious is that these phones are well complimented by a large variety of Operating systems. To top that, these operating systems have latest versions releasing every now and then.
According to Wikipedia, a smartphone is a mobile phone that offers more advanced computing ability and connectivity than a contemporary basic feature phone. Smartphones and feature phones may be thought of as handheld computers integrated with a mobile telephone, but while most feature phones are able to run applications based on platforms such as Java ME, a smartphone usually allows the user to install and run more advanced applications. Smartphones run complete operating system software providing a platform for application developers.
Now that we understand the concept of a Smartphone, let’s list and get to know the operating systems that power almost all the smartphones available in the market.
iOS known as iPhone OS is Apple’s mobile operating system. iOS is derived from Mac OS X, with which it shares the Darwin foundation, and is therefore a Unix-like operating system by nature. Developed originally for the iPhone, it has since been used on the iPod Touch, iPad and Apple TV.
The user interface of iOS is based on the concept of direct manipulation, using multi-touch gestures. Interface control elements consist of sliders, switches, and buttons. The response to user input is immediate and provides a fluid interface. Interaction with the OS includes gestures such as swiping, tapping, pinching, and reverse pinching. Internal accelerometers are used by some applications to respond to shaking the device (one common result is the undo command) or rotating it in three dimensions (one common result is switching from portrait to landscape mode).
The latest version iOS 4 introduced multitasking, threaded email, and several business-oriented features.
P.S. iOS is only found in Apple products.
Android is a mobile operating system initially developed by Android Inc. Android was purchased by Google in 2005. Android is based upon a modified version of the Linux kernel. Google and other members of the Open Handset Alliance collaborated to develop and release Android to the world.
Google with HTC launched their first hardware product i.e. a mobile phone called Nexus One. The Phone got very short life span as Google removed it from market after few months of its launch.
The Android operating system software stack consists of Java applications running on a Java based object oriented application framework on top of Java core libraries running on a Dalvik virtual machine featuring JIT compilation.
The latest version available is Android 3.0 nicknamed Honeycomb.
Android is found in large number of hardware from Texas Instruments, Broadcom Corporation, Google, HTC, Intel, LG, Marvell Technology Group, Motorola, Nvidia, Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, PacketVideo, ARM Holdings, Atheros Communications, Asustek Computer Inc, Garmin Ltd, Softbank, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba Corp, and Vodafone Group Plc.
Windows Mobile is a mobile operating system developed by Microsoft that was for use in smartphones and mobile devices, but is being phased out to specialized markets. It is designed to be somewhat similar to desktop versions of Windows, feature-wise and aesthetically. Additionally, third-party software development is available for Windows Mobile, and software applications can be purchased via the Windows Marketplace for Mobile.
Originally appearing as the Pocket PC 2000 operating system, most Windows Mobile devices come with a stylus pen, which is used to enter commands by tapping it on the screen.
The latest version available is Windows Phone 7 and it is renamed from Windows Mobile to Windows Phone. It is aimed at the consumer market instead of the enterprise market like its predecessor.
Currently Dell, HTC, LG and Samsung are manufacturing Windows Phone 7.