Since the advent of the iOS to the iPhone’s debut in 2007, the titans of mobile OS technology have been grappling for footing while the mobile OS market explodes. For consumers, this means competitive prices and continual innovations for the latest smartphones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and tablets. From Microsoft to Nokia, these resulting innovations in mobile OS technology have produced cutting-edge applications, devices, and entire platforms.
So who are the major players in this evolving frontier, and what innovations do they bring to the market? Android, Apple, and Windows Phone 7 comprise roughly two-thirds of the mobile OS market.
Android’s operating system, now a fully-owned subsidiary of Google, features multi-touch technology, hardware connectivity, 3D graphics, and application multitasking. Since the acquisition in 2005, Android has successfully asserted Google as an authority in mobile technology, comprising 33% of global smartphone profits.
Apple has extended its iOS to incorporate a number of platforms, from the iPad to the iPod touch. While heavily proprietary, Apple’s pinch/zoom and swipe capabilities, seamless interface, and scores of immensely popular applications have earned them their 16% chunk of the mobile market.
Using their long established command of desktop operating systems as leverage, Microsoft entered the mobile OS arena with their Windows Mobile operating system. The OS has since evolved into the Windows 7 Phone system, integrating live tiles into the interface. The tiles, which constantly update themselves, represent e-mail, applications, and other running features so that the user doesn’t need to navigate a series of menus to check them. In addition to the interface, Windows 7 Phone features Internet Explorer 9, the Microsoft Office suite, and application multitasking.
Collectively, the competing carriers mentioned above have hastened the development of entirely new platforms, such as the tablet and the PDA.
Tablets have appeared to fill a niche market for those seeking a hybrid solution to their laptop/handset dilemma. Tablets feature touch screens, virtual keyboards, full web capabilities, and live streaming media, while maintaining a size and portability precisely between that of their brethren. The initial contenders were the Windows Tablet PC, a flop, and then the iPad. There are now dozens more such as the Toshiba Thrive, Samsung Galaxy, and HP TouchPad. Innovations in PDA technology include Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities, touch screens, and wireless synchronization.
Finally, no mobile OS succeeds without effective application development. Every prominent name in mobile technology creates and hosts thousands of applications per month. In conjunction with some devices supporting hardware, the latest applications can analyze blood alcohol content, recognize a melody, or even save shoppers money with instant price comparisons.