Nobody really cared what kind of operating system their phone used during the heyday of the original Motorola Razr, when flip-style handsets were the rule rather than the exception. Times have certainly changed since then. Nowadays, even free phones come with advanced mobile operating systems. Here’s a quick rundown of the most popular options.
Google’s Android is based on the Linux kernel, a free, open source operating system that dates back to 1991. Currently in its fourth major version, the latest Android 4.0 is code-named “Ice Cream Sandwich.” Android has native support for Flash video, unlike iOS. While it spent the first year or so of its life emulating iOS, it’s taken the lead in mobile operating system innovation and development during its last few releases.
The primary operating system of Research In Motion’s Blackberry line of tablets and smart phones, Blackberry OS is programmed entirely in Java. It’s been around since the debut of the Blackberry line in 1999, and as such is the oldest mobile operating system on the market. It’s set to be replaced by the QNX operating system sometime in 2012.
Apple’s mobile operating system is a modified variant of their Mac OS X operating system. Mac OS X is a Unix-like operating system that actually has a lot in common with Linux. The iOS platform is famous for its seamless user experience, its wide selection of mobile applications via the iTunes App Store, and its terrific battery life.
Windows Phone 7
Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 is the least popular of the major mobile operating systems currently available. While it’s had difficulty gaining traction with consumers, it has a lot of potential. WP7 features a slick UI named Metro, a growing stable of well-developed applications, and the backing of one of the largest technology companies in the world.
Oftentimes, a phone’s performance and responsiveness have less to do with its operating system and more to do with its hardware. As such, it’s hard to make general statements about which mobile operating system is the best. However, it’s safe to say that Android and iOS lead the field in terms of available applications and overall performance.