Download the latest issue of Business Today Magazine just for Rs.49
Choose your operating system

Choose your operating system

An OS is the software platform that enables the device and the applications to run on it. We look at six of the most popular systems.

Do you have a BlackBerry or an Android? No, the reference is not to mobile handsets but their operating systems. An OS is the software platform that enables the device and the applications to run on it. We look at six of the most popular systems. Of these, BlackBerry and Apple offer both handsets and OS, while the others provide only the software to handset manufacturers.

This is Apple’s proprietary operating system for the iPhone. For users, this means direct manipulation using multi-touch gestures such as swiping, tapping, pinching and reverse pinching. Internal accelerometers alter the screen orientation if the device is rotated. The iPhone OS 3.0 includes a search option, copy-paste facility, MMS, e-mail and text messages in the landscape mode. The App Store offers value-added applications. The software development kit allows geeks to create and sell their own apps, though Apple has a controversial fee-sharing agreement in place.

This is the operating system that runs most of our computers, but does this mean it can also run our mobile phones? In a word, yes. Windows Mobile, the OS for mobile devices, has been through the usual ups and downs as witnessed by the regular Windows OS, but the latest versions such as Windows 6.1 are widely seen as stable. Features include Office Mobile support, remote desktop access, voice over Internet, Windows Live, out-of-office replies with Microsoft Exchange 2007 and support for Office 2007 document formats. The much-awaited Windows 6.5 is expected to offer even more.

BlackBerry almost always refers to the handheld devices that come with a trackball, qwerty keypad and offers push e-mail, Internet faxing, Web browsing and other wireless information services. The BlackBerry OS is a proprietary software platform for these devices. The important feature is the synchronisation with Microsoft Exchange Server and Lotus Domino e-mail servers. The new version of the OS allows wireless activation and synchronisation with the Exchange’s e-mail, calendar, tasks, notes and contacts, as well as support for Novell Group-Wise and Lotus Notes.

Linux provides a compelling alternative to commercial operating systems such as Symbian or Windows Mobile as it’s cheaper and not controlled by a big company. It offers a stable kernel, a support base not restricted to a single software firm, and the ability to modify and redistribute the source code. New versions of Linux Mobile even offer gesture recognition technology. Linux seems most popular in China and Japan, where it is used by Motorola and DoCoMo. Panasonic, Samsung, Vodafone, NEC and NTT DoCoMo are also working on a new Linuxbased platform.

Possibly the most popular operating system for mobile phones, Symbian runs on over 100 million smartphones. It is still not a complete open source, although parts of the source code are provided to manufacturers. Most Symbian smartphones run on S60, a leading smartphone platform. The fifth edition of S60 supports high-resolution touchscreen functions. An important feature of S60 phones is that they allow new applications to be installed after purchase. Among other features, the latest Symbian release offers native support for mobile digital television broadcasts.

Technically, Android is a Linux OS, but thanks to Google’s interest and the creation of the Open Handset Alliance, it has taken on a life of its own. The latest Android version allows users to record and watch videos on the camcorder mode, upload videos to YouTube and pictures to Picasa directly from the phone, auto-connect to a Bluetooth headset within a certain distance, new widgets and folders, animations between screens, and the copy-paste option. However, not many phones run on Android; HTC was the first to come out with what is popularly referred to as the Google Phone.

Published on: Jun 01, 2009, 10:31 PM IST
Posted by: AtMigration, Jun 01, 2009, 10:31 PM IST