A mobile operating system (or mobile OS) is an operating system for phones, tablets and smartwatches or other mobile devices. While computers such as typical laptops are 'mobile', the operating systems usually used on them are not considered mobile ones, as they were originally designed for desktop computers that historically did not have or need specific mobile features. This distinction is becoming blurred in some newer operating systems that are hybrids made for both uses.
Mobile operating systems combine features of a personal computer operating system with other features useful for mobile or handheld use; usually including, and most of the following considered essential in modern mobile systems; a touchscreen, cellular, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Protected Access, Wi-Fi, Global Positioning System (GPS) mobile navigation, single-frame picture camera/video camera, speech recognition, voice recorder, music player, near field communication, and infrared blaster. By the end of 2016, over 430 million smartphones were sold with 81.7 percent running Android, 17.9 percent running iOS, 0.3 percent running Windows Mobile and the other OSes cover 0.1 percent. Android alone is more popular than the popular desktop operating system Windows, and in general smartphone use (even without tablets) outnumber desktop use (desktop use, web use, overall is down to 44.9% in the first quarter of 2017).
Mobile devices with mobile communications abilities (e.g., smartphones) contain two mobile operating systems – the main user-facing software platform is supplemented by a second low-level proprietary real-time operating system which operates the radio and other hardware. Research has shown that these low-level systems may contain a range of security vulnerabilities permitting malicious base stations to gain high levels of control over the mobile device.
Mobile operating systems have majority use as of 2017 (measured by web use); with even only the smartphones running them (excluding tablets) more used than any other kind of device. Thus traditional desktop OS is now a minority used kind of OS; see usage share of operating systems. However, variations occur in popularity by regions, while desktop-minority also applies on some days in regions such as United States and United Kingdom.
These operating systems often run atop baseband or other real time operating systems that handle hardware aspects of the phone.
Android (based on the modified Linux kernel) is a mobile operating system developed by Google Inc. Besides having the largest installed base worldwide on smartphones, it is also the most popular operating system for general purpose computers (a category that includes desktop computers and mobile devices), even though Android is not a popular operating system for regular (desktop) personal computers (PCs). Although the Android operating system is free and open-source software, in devices sold, much of the software bundled with it (including Google apps and vendor-installed software) is proprietary software and closed source.
Android's releases before 2.0 (1.0, 1.5, 1.6) were used exclusively on mobile phones. Android 2.x releases were mostly used for mobile phones but also some tablets, Android 3.0 was a tablet-oriented release and does not officially run on mobile phones, while both phone and tablet compatibility was merged with Android 4.0. The current Android version is 8.0 Oreo.
Android's releases are named after sweets or dessert items, except for the first and second releases:
BlackBerry Secure is an operating system developed by BlackBerry, based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Officially announced the name for their Android based front-end touch interface on August 2017, before the announcement, BlackBerry Secure was running on BlackBerry brand devices such as BlackBerry Priv, DTEK 50/60 and BlackBerry KEYone. Currently, BlackBerry plan to license out the BlackBerry Secure to other OEM's.
ColorOS is a custom front-end touch interface, based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) and is developed by OPPO Electronics Corp. As of 2016[update], OPPO officially releases ColorOS with every OPPO device, and released an official ROM for the OnePlus One.
Emotion User Interface (EMUI) is a front-end touch interface developed by Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and is based on Google's Android Open Source Project (AOSP). EMUI is preinstalled on most Huawei and Honor devices.
Flyme OS is an operating system developed by Meizu Technology Co., Ltd., an open source OS based on Google Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Flyme OS is mainly installed on Meizu Smartphones such as the MX's series, however it also has official ROM support for a few Android devices.
HTC Sense is a software suite developed by HTC, used primarily on the company's Android-based devices. Serving as a successor to HTC's TouchFLO 3D software for Windows Mobile, Sense modifies many aspects of the Android user experience, incorporating added features (such as an altered home screen and keyboard), widgets, HTC-developed applications, and redesigned applications. The first device with Sense, the HTC Hero, was released in 2009.
Lineage Android Distribution is a custom mobile operating system based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). It serves as the successor to the highly popular custom ROM, CyanogenMod, from which it was forked in December 2016 when Cyanogen Inc. announced it was discontinuing development and shut down the infrastructure behind the project. Since Cyanogen Inc. retained the rights to the Cyanogen name, the project rebranded its fork as LineageOS.
Similar to CyanogenMod, it does not include any proprietary apps unless the user installs them. It allows Android users who can no longer obtain update support from their manufacturer to continue updating their OS version to the latest one based on official release from Google AOSP and heavy theme customization.
Indus OS is a custom mobile operating system based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). It is developed by the Indus OS team based in India. The operating system has over 8 million users and is India's second most popular smartphone OS as per market share. Indus OS is available on Micromax, Intex, Karbonn, and other Indian smartphone brands.
Mi User Interface (MIUI), developed by the Chinese electronic company Xiaomi Inc., is a mobile operating system based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). MIUI is mostly found in Xiaomi smartphones such as the Mi and Redmi Series, however it also has official ROM support for few Android devices. Although MIUI is based on AOSP, which is open source, it consists of closed source and proprietary software of its own.
LG UX (formerly named Optimus UI) is a front-end touch interface developed by LG Electronics with partners, featuring a full touch user interface. It is sometimes incorrectly identified as an operating system. LG UX is used internally by LG for sophisticated feature phones and tablet computers, and is not available for licensing by external parties.
Optimus UI 2 which based on Android 4.1.2 has been released on the Optimus K II and the Optimus Neo 3. It features a more refined user interface compared to the prior version based on Android 4.1.1, would include together which new functionality such as voice shutter and quick memo.
OxygenOS is based on the open source Android Open Source Project (AOSP) and is developed by OnePlus to replace Cyanogen OS on OnePlus devices such as the OnePlus One, and it is preinstalled on the OnePlus 2, OnePlus X, OnePlus 3, OnePlus 3T, and OnePlus 5. As stated by Oneplus, OxygenOS is focused on stabilizing and maintaining of stock like those found on Nexus devices. It consists of mainly Google apps and minor UI customization to maintain the sleekness of pure Android.
Samsung Experience (formerly called TouchWiz) is a front-end touch interface developed by Samsung Electronics with partners, featuring a full touch user interface. It is sometimes incorrectly identified as an independent operating system. Samsung Experience is used internally by Samsung for smartphones, feature phones and tablet computers, and is not available for licensing by external parties as it is closed source and proprietary. The Android version of Samsung Experience also comes with Samsung-made apps preloaded (except starting with the Galaxy S6 which have removed all Samsung pre-loaded apps installed, leaving one with Galaxy Apps, to save storage space and initially due to the removal of MicroSD).
ZenUI is a front-end touch interface developed by ASUS with partners, featuring a full touch user interface. ZenUI is used by Asus for its Android phones and tablet computers, and is not available for licensing by external parties. ZenUI also comes preloaded with Asus-made apps like ZenLink (PC Link, Share Link, Party Link & Remote Link).
Sailfish OS is from Jolla. It is open source with GNU General Public License (GPL) for middleware stack core which comes from MER. Sailfish due to Jolla's business model and due to alliances with various partners and due to intentional design of OS internals, is capable to adopt in several layers third party software including Jolla software e.g. Jolla's UI is proprietary software (closed source), so such components can be proprietary with many different kinds of licences. However, user can replace them with open source components like e.g. NEMO UI instead Jolla's UI. Using third party software extends usability but does not make the OS code close, in the same way as preinstalled Microsoft Word (closed source) on a Linux device does not make Linux closed source.
After Nokia abandoned in 2011 the MeeGo project, most of the MeeGo team left Nokia, and established Jolla as a company to use MeeGo and Mer business opportunities. The MER standard allows it to be launched on any hardware with kernel compatible with MER. In 2012, Linux Sailfish OS based on MeeGo and using middleware of MER core stack distribution was launched for public use. The first device, the Jolla smartphone, was unveiled on 20 May 2013. In 2015, Jolla Tablet was launched and the BRICS countries declared it an officially supported OS there. Jolla started licensing Sailfish OS 2.0 for third parties. Some devices sold are updateable to Sailfish 2.0 with no limits.
Each Sailfish OS version release is named after a Finnish lake:
|22.214.171.124||17||Eineheminlampi||Pretransition to version 2.0; major UI revamp|
|126.96.36.199||18||Saimaa||Full transition to version 2.0; minor UI and function improvements|
Tizen is an operating system for devices including smartphones, tablets, in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) devices, and smart TVs. It is an open source system (however the SDK was closed source and proprietary) that aims to offer a consistent user experience across devices. Tizen's main components are the Linux kernel and the WebKit runtime. According to Intel, Tizen "combines the best of LiMo and MeeGo." HTML5 apps are emphasized, with MeeGo encouraging its members to transition to Tizen, stating that the "future belongs to HTML5-based applications, outside of a relatively small percentage of apps, and we are firmly convinced that our investment needs to shift toward HTML5." Tizen will be targeted at a variety of platforms such as handsets, touch pc, smart TVs and in-vehicle entertainment. On 17 May 2013, Tizen released version 2.1, code-named Nectarine.
While Tizen it self was open source, most of the UX and UI layer that developed by Samsung was mainly closed source and proprietary, such as the TouchWiz UI on the Samsung Z's series smartphone.
Currently, Tizen is the fourth largest mobile OS in terms of market share. Tizen has the second-largest market share in the budget segment of smartphones in India as of Q4 2015.
Current Tizen version list:
iOS (formerly named iPhone OS) is a mobile operating system from Apple Inc. It has the second largest installed base worldwide on smartphones, but the largest profits, due to aggressive price competition between Android-based manufacturers. It is closed source and proprietary, and is built on the open source Darwin operating system. The iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and second or third-generation Apple TV all use iOS, which is derived from macOS.
Native third party applications were not officially supported until the release of iPhone OS 2.0 on 11 July 2008. Before this, "jailbreaking" allowed third party applications to be installed, and this method is still available.
Currently all iOS devices are developed by Apple and manufactured by Foxconn or another of Apple's partners.
Current iOS version list:
One of the dominant platforms in the world in late 2000s, its global market share was reduced significantly by 2016. In late 2016, BlackBerry announced that it will continue support them, with a promise to release 10.3.3. Therefore, BlackBerry 10 would not received any major update as BlackBerry and its partner would focus more on their Android base development.
Current BlackBerry 10 version list:
Unveiled on 15 February 2010, Windows Phone includes a user interface inspired by Microsoft's Metro Design Language. It is integrated with Microsoft services such as OneDrive and Office, Xbox Music, Xbox Video, Xbox Live games and Bing, but also integrates with many other non-Microsoft services such as Facebook and Google accounts. Windows Phone devices were made primarily by Microsoft Mobile/Nokia, and also by HTC and Samsung.
On 21 January 2015, Microsoft announced that the Windows Phone brand will be phased out and replaced with Windows 10 Mobile, bringing tighter integration and unification with its PC counterpart Windows 10, and provide a platform for smartphones and tablets with screen sizes under 8 inches.
As of 2016, Windows 10 Mobile global market share dropped below 0.6%.
On October 2017, Microsoft had officially announce that they would no longer push any major update to Windows 10 Mobile, instead it would only on maintenance mode where Microsoft push bug fixes and general improvements only, therefore Windows 10 Mobile would not received any new feature update any longer.
Current Windows 10 Mobile version list:
CyanogenMod was a custom mobile operating system based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). It was a custom ROM that was co-developed by the CyanogenMod community. The OS did not include any proprietary apps unless the user installed them. Due to its open source nature, CyanogenMod allowed Android users who could no longer obtain update support from their manufacturer to continue updating their OS version to the latest one based on official releases from Google AOSP and heavy theme customization. The last version of the OS was CyanogenMod 13 which was based on Android Marshmallow.
On 24 December 2016, CyanogenMod announced on their blog that they would no longer be releasing any CyanogenMod updates. All development moved to LineageOS.
Cyanogen OS was based on CyanogenMod and maintained by Cyanogen Inc, however it included proprietary apps and it was only available for commercial uses.
Firefox OS (project name: Boot to Gecko, also known as B2G) is from Mozilla. It was an open source mobile operating system released under the Mozilla Public License built on the Android Linux kernel and used Android drivers, but did not use any Java-like code of Android.
According to Ars Technica, "Mozilla says that B2G is motivated by a desire to demonstrate that the standards-based open Web has the potential to be a competitive alternative to the existing single-vendor application development stacks offered by the dominant mobile operating systems." In September 2016, Mozilla announced that work on Firefox OS has ceased, and all B2G-related code would be removed from mozilla-central.
MeeGo was from non-profit organization The Linux Foundation. It is open source and GPL. At the 2010 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Nokia and Intel both unveiled MeeGo, a mobile operating system that combined Moblin and Maemo to create an open-sourced experience for users across all devices. In 2011 Nokia announced that it would no longer pursue MeeGo in favor of Windows Phone. Nokia announced the Nokia N9 on 21 June 2011 at the Nokia Connection event in Singapore. LG announced its support for the platform. Maemo was a platform developed by Nokia for smartphones and Internet tablets. It is open source and GPL, based on Debian GNU/Linux and draws much of its graphical user interface (GUI), frameworks, and libraries from the GNOME project. It uses the Matchbox window manager and the GTK-based Hildon as its GUI and application framework.
Ubuntu Touch is from Canonical Ltd.. It is open source and uses the GPL license. The OS is built on the Android Linux kernel, using Android drivers and services via an LXC container, but does not use any of the Java-like code of Android.
Current Ubuntu Touch version list:
webOS was developed by Palm. webOS is an open source mobile operating system running on the Linux kernel, initially developed by Palm, which launched with the Palm Pre. After being acquired by HP, two phones (the Veer and the Pre 3) and a tablet (the TouchPad) running webOS were introduced in 2011. On 18 August 2011, HP announced that webOS hardware would be discontinued, but would continue to support and update webOS software and develop the webOS ecosystem. HP released webOS as open source under the name Open webOS, and plans to update it with additional features. On 25 February 2013 HP announced the sale of WebOS to LG Electronics, who used the operating system for its "smart" or Internet-connected TVs. However, HP retained patents underlying WebOS and cloud-based services such as the App Catalog.
In 1999, Research In Motion released its first BlackBerry devices, providing secure real-time push-email communications on wireless devices. Services such as BlackBerry Messenger provide the integration of all communications into a single inbox. In September 2012, RIM announced that the 200 millionth BlackBerry smartphone was shipped. As of September 2014, there were around 46 million active BlackBerry service subscribers. In early 2010s, RIM has undergone a platform transition, changing its company name to BlackBerry Limited and making new devices on a new platform named "BlackBerry 10".
The Windows CE operating system and Windows Mobile middleware was widely spread in Asia (which mostly uses Android now). The two improved variants of this operating system, Windows Mobile 6 Professional (for touch screen devices) and Windows Mobile 6 Standard, were unveiled in February 2007. It was criticized for having a user interface which is not optimized for touch input by fingers; instead, it is more usable with a stylus. Like iOS, and most other Mobile OS, it supports both touch screen, physical and Bluetooth keyboard configurations.
Windows Phone is a family of mobile operating systems developed by Microsoft for smartphones as the replacement successor to Windows Mobile and Zune. Windows Phone features a new user interface derived from Metro design language. Windows Phone was replaced by Windows 10 Mobile in 2015.
The Symbian platform was developed by Nokia for some models of smartphones. It is proprietary software. The operating system was discontinued in 2012, although a slimmed-down version for basic phones was still developed until July 2014. Microsoft officially shelved the platform in favor of Windows Phone after its acquisition of Nokia.
Bada platform (stylized as bada; Korean: 바다) was an operating system for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers. It was developed by Samsung Electronics. Its name is derived from "바다 (bada)", meaning "ocean" or "sea" in Korean. It ranges from mid- to high-end smartphones. To foster adoption of Bada OS, since 2011 Samsung reportedly has considered releasing the source code under an open-source license, and expanding device support to include Smart TVs. Samsung announced in June 2012 intentions to merge Bada into the Tizen project, but would meanwhile use its own Bada operating system, in parallel with Google Android OS and Microsoft Windows Phone, for its smartphones. All Bada-powered devices are branded under the Wave name, but not all of Samsung's Android-powered devices are branded under the name Galaxy. On 25 February 2013, Samsung announced that it will stop developing Bada, moving development to Tizen instead.Bug reporting was finally terminated in April 2014.
Palm OS/Garnet OS was from Access Co. It is closed source and proprietary. webOS was introduced by Palm in January 2009 as the successor to Palm OS with Web 2.0 technologies, open architecture and multitasking abilities.
In 2006, Android, iOS, and Windows Phone did not exist and only 64 million smartphones were sold. In 2016 Q4, 431.53 million smartphones were sold and global market share was 81.7% for Android, 17.9% for iOS, 0.3% for Windows 10 Mobile and 0.1% for all other platforms.
According to StatCounter web use statistics (a proxy for all use), smartphones (alone without tablets) have have majority use globally, with desktop computers used much less (and Android in particular more popular than Windows). Use varies however by continent with smartphones way more popular in the biggest continents, i.e. Asia, and the desktop still more popular in some, though not in North America.
The desktop is still popular in many countries (while overall down to 44.9% in the first quarter of 2017), smartphones are more popular even in many developed countries (or about to be in more). A few countries on any continent are desktop-minority; European countries (and some in South America, and a few, e.g. Haiti, in North America; and most in Asia and Africa) are smartphone-majority, Poland and Turkey highest with 57.68% and 62.33%, respectively. In Ireland, smartphone use at 45.55% outnumbers desktop use and mobile as a whole gains majority when including the tablet share at 9.12%. Spain is also slightly desktop-minority.
The range of measured mobile web use varies a lot by country, and a StatCounter press release recognizes "India amongst world leaders in use of mobile to surf the internet" (of the big countries) where the share is around (or over) 80% and desktop is at 19.56%, with Russia trailing with 17.8% mobile use (and desktop the rest).
Smartphones (alone, without tablets), first gained majority in December 2016 (desktop-majority was lost the month before), and it wasn't a Christmas-time fluke, as while close to majority after smartphone majority happened again in March 2017.
In the week from 7–13 November 2016, smartphones alone (without tablets) overtook desktop, for the first time (for a short period; non-full-month). Mobile-majority applies to countries such as Paraguay in South America, Poland in Europe and Turkey; and most of Asia and Africa. Some of the world is still desktop-majority, with e.g. in the United States at 54.89% (but no not on all days). However, in some territories of the United States, such as Puerto Rico, desktop is way under majority, with Windows under 30% overtaken by Android.
On 22 October 2016 (and subsequent weekends), mobile showed majority. Since 27 October, the desktop hasn't shown majority, not even on weekdays. And smartphones alone have showed majority since 23 December to the end of the year, with the share topping at 58.22% on Christmas Day. To the "mobile"-majority share then of smartphones, tablets could be added giving a 63.22% majority. While an unusually high top, a similarly high also happened on Monday 17 April 2017, with then only smartphones share slightly lower and tablet share slightly higher, with them combined at 62.88%.
Formerly, according to StatCounter press release, the world has turned desktop-minority; as of October 2016[update], at about 49% desktop use for that month, but mobile wasn't ranked higher, tablet share had to be added to it to exceed desktop share.
This section needs to be updated.(April 2017)
|Quarter||Android||iOS||Windows||BlackBerry||Symbian||Other||Total smartphones||Total phones|
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