Mobile OS Roundup

Here’s a list of popular mobile operating systems that are in production and a few under development….

OS‘s in the Wild

Android – This Google owned open source operating system is the worlds most popular mobile operating system by number of devices purchased. Android has managed to garnish a huge following from mobile handset makers like Motorola, HTC, Samsung, and has benefit from the rich app ecosystem provided by the Google Play Store and Amazon’s Kindle. Android has been adapted to smartphones, desktops, “set top” devices, tablets, and numerous other computing platforms. It runs on x86 hardware as well as ARM architecture as well.

iOS – Apple’s mobile OS was what brought smartphones to the masses. Apple’s “walled garden” approach to all things on iOS has made iOS a success – apps were all delivered through a single source that is tightly controlled by a single vendor. It’s a one-stop shop for all things on the hardware. iOS, while not the most popular platform, is still a major player among the available mobile OS’s. Apple uses iOS for its tablets, smartphones, and “set top” devices.

Windows RT – Windows RT is the little brother to Windows 8 – the full blown desktop operating system from Microsoft. Windows RT is aimed at tablet devices that use ARM technologies. It shares a large subset of the Windows 8 API’s, though it lacks the traditional Windows desktop. Windows RT adopted a walled garden approach similar to iOS with it’s launch, pushing all its content through the Windows Store. Windows RT was launched with lots pf media coverage, but has yet to garnish much more than a fraction of a percent in terms of market share.

Windows Phone – Rather than make a smashup OS for both tablets and smartphones, Microsoft opted to have a separate OS for its phones – the Windows Phone platform. Windows Phone is much like the Windows RT environment, except it is tailored to run on smaller screens sizes. Windows Phone since its launch has been a modest success and is still gaining ground, but it has yet to capture the large market shares of iOS and Android to date.

Chrome OS – Chrome OS is Google commercial version of Chromium OS and is another entry from Google that Google built to run on what they call “Chromebooks”. Chromebooks are essential low-end laptops or netbooks with the Chome OS installed. Chrome OS is a Internet centric operating system that makes heavy use of the Chrome Internet browser to deliver apps and content to the device – essentially a portal to all things in the Google environment such as Gmail, Google Docs, the Playstore, and other such applications. There are a few tablet devices that are now running Chrome OS.

Blackberry 10 – Blackberry 10 is the latest successor in a long line of mobile operating systems from Research in Motion. Before the iPhone, Blackberries were effectively synonymous with smartphones, but have since this time fallen in numbers and marketshare . Nevertheless, Blackberry 10 has received numerous app submissions and is being adopted by RIM’s faithful followers.

Up and Coming OS’s

Tizen – Tizen is a new upstart Mobile OS that is governed by the Linux Foundation and directed by Intel and Samsung. Tizen intend to be a direct competitor with Android and even promises compatibility with Android application. Tizen was built from the ground-up to run on x86 and ARM hardware rather than back-porting support as Android did. Tizen as of Febuary 26, 2013 has not been released and no announcements have been made concerning it’s release date.

Ubuntu for Phones – Ubuntu for Phones is another upstart from Canonical, the maker of the popular Linux desktop operating system of the same name. Ubuntu mobile intends to be both a mobile operating system and a desktop operating system when the mobile device running the operating system is docked. Ideally, the operating system will be able to run traditional desktop apps, take phone calls, and send SMS all that the same time. But like Tizen, it hasn’t been released yet, but it has received a modest amount of media coverage.

Ubuntu for Android – While technically not an operating system, this project is worth mentioning because it intends to deliver the the same sort of experience Ubuntu for phones delivers, except it will run on top of the Android OS. It will allow the user to run both desktop apps when docked, but also use Android apps while docked or on the god. It’s not a replace for Android, rather a supplement to Android. This is being developed simultaneously with Ubuntu for Phones. There is no release date for the add-on to date.

Firefox OS – Formally called “Boot to Gecko”, Firefox OS is the Mozilla Foundation’s entry into the foray. Firefox OS intends to be heavily reliant upon web-based technologies for its app ecosystem. Mozilla intends to run Firefox OS on tablet and smartphones much like many of the other Linux based operating systems (Android and Tinzen) The release date for the Firefox OS is the 3rd quarter of 2013 in limited markets with plans to expand to other markets.

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