Smart phones were the keyword for technology improvements in the last couple of years. A bunch of new platforms emerged, old ones improved and others died or just about to die. Three of the available platforms are highly anticipated and have the potential to go on further more in the future. In the next lines I’ll try to provide a quick look at the 3 most valuable mobile platforms.
Apple iOS (June 2007)
All the current progress in smart phones world might be appointed to Apple and their iOS innovations. The iOS was first brought to the world in the original iPhone. The iOS concept was revolutionary; taking an app-centric approach to mobile usage was a fresh new idea. Apple relies on having the absolute control over the hardware and software of their phones. This point is actually considered the main advantage and disadvantage in iPhone. It’s good to have such a stable and powerful device but you are limited to just 1 sole provider.
Google Android (October 2008)
Following Apple steps, Google took the same approach of app-centric platform and introduced their open-source mobile OS. Google relies on the quick and continuous updates to achieve success. Many OEMs have adopted Android OS and contributed to its success from its very beginning; Samsung, HTC and Motorola are the largest names in the Android team. The open nature of the Android OS provides a variety in hardware and software. But again this approach is considered the main advantage and disadvantages in Android. It’s good to have such a variety of devices available but such variety causes so many problems in receiving updates and the applications compatibility issues started to appear.
Microsoft WP7 (October 2010)
Unlike Apple and Google, Microsoft – maybe for the first time – took a totally different approach to mobile usage. The concept of Hubs was introduced to link related stuff all together in a single place “Hub”. The applications are no longer the center of attention, it’s the content. Microsoft mixed the Apple & Google techniques to provide a single platform (Apple main advantage) & a wide variety of hardware options (Google main advantage). Currently HTC and Samsung are the main providers for WP7 devices but having Nokia on board for the next wave of devices might change such fact. Microsoft is relying on their integrated services to create an strong-enough ecosystem to compete with Apple and Google. WP7 has two main issues and risks; first, the OS release was so late. Second; the new UI concept of Hubs and Tiles is not straight-forward for everyone specially with the app-centric nature of the current smart phones.
Personally I would rate the 3 operating systems as follows
1. WP7; I’ve been using WP7 for a while now and I have a short experience with iPhone & Android. And as mentioned, WP7 brought together the advantages of iPhone & Android in a fresh and good-looking UI experience. I can say that the Mango update (WP 7.5) is a great step in the right direction for Microsoft but more steps must follow soon.
2. iOS; I see iOS (iPhone) as a wonderful OS; it’s generally fun and straight-forward to use, but I personally don’t like the ONLY-ME approach of Apple and I wish we could see an iOS device produced by another OEM specially that most of the iPhone hardware is already manufactured outside Apple (displays are manufactured by LG and processors are manufactured by Samsung!).
3. Android; I’m a big fan of HTC Sense-UI and of the Mighty Samsung Galaxy S II; such innovations are based on Android but are not a representation of the Android OS itself. I find the Android so fragmented and hard-to-use for normal non-tech people. Also the open source nature makes its applications unsafe; not to mentioned the bugs and compatibility issues.
Some other platforms are good but need a lot of work to catch up with the competition. WebOS and MeeGo are two very nice platforms with many innovations inside them (most of those innovations are mimicked by Apple, Google and Microsoft in their platforms). But both platforms lack the support from the hardware manufactures. Only the Nokia N9 is running MeeGo and only HP (Palm before being acquired by HP) is producing WebOS devices.