Which Mobile Operating System is Best for Me?
Apple’s recent launch of its iPhone 5 has once again reignited the debate over which phone tops all others, and which mobile operating system offers the most bang for the buck.
As is often the case in the tech world, there is no so-called “one best” anything. The operating systems that power today’s top phones – and increasingly, tablets – all have key strengths and weaknesses. A certain feature or capability that is a must-have to some of us may be a showstopper for others. Here’s a quick rundown of the major choices out there:
Apple iOS – The operating system that powers the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch has been around since 2007. It has the most apps available – 700,000 in total, with 250,000 of those optimized for the iPad’s larger screen – and because Apple controls every aspect of the hardware and software, offers the most consistent user experience.
Software updates are usually fairly straightforward. If you just want it to work and don’t much want to dig into the guts of the machine, iOS – just updated to version 6 – is probably your best bet.
Google Android – The web search giant makes its mobile operating system available for free to handset makers like Samsung, HTC, and Motorola. Globally, over half of all smartphones are now Android-powered, and they’re available in a dizzying array of sizes and price points.
To differentiate their offerings, hardware vendors often add a “skin” or layer of software on top of the basic Android operating system. This can affect software compatibility and make it difficult to switch from one to another. Google’s openness makes it easier to tweak the device to look and work exactly as you’d like, making it an ideal choice for more technically inclined users who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves every once in a while.
Windows Phone 8 – Microsoft released Windows Phone 7 to critical acclaim about two years ago. Sales have been tepid, but the software giant has kept at it, with subsequent updates to version 7.5 and, later this year, Windows Phone 8. While hardware running the older operating system can’t be updated to version 8, the new offering sports a modern, tile-based interface that promises to let you get work done more easily.
The number of apps available, 100,000, trails Google’s half-million, but no one loads more than a few dozen apps on any given device, anyway. With vendors like Nokia and Samsung bringing their own Windows Phone 8-powered phones to market before the holiday season, consumers now have a viable alternative to Android and iOS.
Research In Motion BlackBerry – Current RIM smartphones run the BlackBerry 7 operating system, and are slated to be replaced by BlackBerry 10, an entirely new platform, early next year. The new operating system promises a leading edge interface and stronger support for developers – which means, according to RIM, more and better apps. RIM has lost significant market share in the past couple of years thanks to intensifying competition and an aging product line. But for consumers in the market to replace a BlackBerry sometime next year, the new products could be worth the wait. Indeed, 10 could be your number.
Within these four mainstream offerings, chances are there’s at least one device that suits your needs. Before you buy, try taking at least one example of each operating system for a test drive. Looking for the best operating system isn’t the goal. Looking for the best operating system for you, however, is.
#BellBiz Twitter Chat
What operating system is the right choice for your business? Join host Carmi Levy to find out October 16 at 1 PM ET in a live Twitter chat at #BellBiz.