Guide to smartphone operating systems
Today, there are three main competitors in the smartphone OS arena: Android by Google, iOS by Apple and Windows Phone 7 by Microsoft. All three of these have several features in common, such as application (App) stores and the regular goodies such as web browsers and music players. However, the difference arises in the completely different approach all of these operating systems have taken.
First of all, we have iOS. This OS brought along with it a very smooth interface and a capable App Store which helped to put smartphones in the hands of the masses. Although iOS is only available on Apple’s own iPhones, it has not stopped it from becoming very popular. The approach that iOS has taken is to provide users with a consistent and clean interface which does not require any deep technical knowledge from the user to be able to function at its potential. This approach has worked very well for casual users but power users always find something more to be desired from iOS.
The second major smartphone OS is Android. This was built by Google and takes a completely different approach from iOS. Instead of being an OS which only runs on proprietary hardware, Android is open-source, meaning that any company can port it to their handsets. Thus, almost all of the leading hardware brands, such as HTC, Samsung, Motorola and Sony Ericsson have handsets in their portfolio which run on Android. Android is also different from iOS in terms of customisability. Manufacturers can rebuild the default interface to their own liking and users also have a huge number of customization options available to them, an area where iOS lags behind. Also, Android has several features and options which power users require, such as widgets, which iOS lacks. The Android market is also present for downloading all sorts of applications. The only problem with the OS is that due to variations in the versions of the OS available, the interface is not consistent, which many users may not appreciate.
Windows Phone 7
The third OS is Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7. Microsoft took both Google and Apple’s approaches and created a blend of their strategies in the creation of WP7. It combined the consistency of iOS along with the different hardware choices that Android provides. Essentially, Microsoft fixed the hardware that the manufacturer could use in its device and then gave all WP7 devices a single version of the OS. This gave people the option of different hardware along with a consistent OS. The main drawback of the OS is that its application store, Marketplace, does not have enough applications as compared to iOS and Android. Also, WP7 is better suited for casual users and power users still find Android’s features to be superior.
Power users in search of the most features will definitely be better off with Android. Those people who love simplicity and Apple’s hardware will definitely prefer iOS while those who prefer simplicity but not the iPhone should definitely check out Windows Phone 7.