You are on page 1of 11

Running Head: SMARTPHONE OPERATING SYSTEMS

Which Smartphone Operating System Stands Above the Rest? Alex Power ENC 1102-0014 Dr. Guenzel April 15, 2014

SMARTPHONE OPERATING SYSTEMS

Abstract Most adults in todays society have smartphones, and they have become an integral part of everything from personal interactions to business communications. While there are differences in the hardware from device to device, the operating system that each device runs has a far greater impact on the users experience. This paper will analyze and compare Googles Android, Apples iOS, Microsofts Windows Phone, and the new Blackberry 10 operating systems. Using statistics, online sources, and journal articles, this paper will discuss the pros and cons of each operating system. Analyzing the features, ease of use, and third-party application support of each operating system, a conclusion will be made on which one is best overall.

SMARTPHONE OPERATING SYSTEMS

Which Smartphone Operating System Stands Above the Rest? Smartphones are an essential part of todays society. According to Smith (2013), 56 percent of adults in 2013 owned smartphones of some type. However, purchasing this necessity is not as simple as going to the store and buying the newest smartphone on the shelf. There are important differences between each smartphone, namely, the operating system. Apples iOS, Googles Android, Microsofts Windows Phone 8, and Blackberry 10 are the big four contenders in todays smartphone market. Almost every phone uses one of these operating systems to determine the users experience. Each unique operating system has its benefits, downsides, and nuances. Apples iOSs proprietary model allows them to control their entire user experience and innovate like no other company; Androids customizability allows for endless possibilities and the biggest application market out there; and Windows Phones simplistic, elegant design and Microsoft Office suite integration means that nearly every phone available for purchase will not disappoint. Each smartphones usability, features, third-party application support, customizability and the devices they run on will be discussed. It should be noted that after iPhone dethroned Blackberry from its position as the most popular and useful phone, Blackberrys producer, RIM, has been trying to get back into the market. RIM made a more user friendly, touchscreen oriented, operating system, Blackberry 10. Blackberry 10 was released with the intention to be competitive, complete with an application marketplace, a unique set of features, separate devices and a new approach on customizability. Since Blackberry 10 has not gained a notable amount of traction in the market, it is not a primary contender. It has an interesting concept that may see more use in the future; however, it will not be discussed further.

SMARTPHONE OPERATING SYSTEMS

Apples iPhone Apples iPhone brand is known worldwide for various reasons. Apple created iOS, the new and innovative all touchscreen operating system, which powers the iPhone. Mace and West (2010) pointed out that Apple in 2010 was the first to make a browser that didnt use mobile browsing; the phone internet was the same as the internet accessed on a computer (p. 273). Innovation from Apple has continued thanks to their proprietary model for all of their products. Everything that uses iOS is made exclusively by Apple, and as a result they are in complete control over every aspect of the users experience. As said by Gralla (2011), If you want the most elegant, best-integrated marriage of hardware and software -- not to mention absolute simplicity when it comes to ease of use -- you want the iPhone. Even the apps made by thirdparty developers that populate Apples App Store application market are carefully screened by Apple before they are allowed into the store, and must follow a very specific set of guidelines (Hattersley, 2013). This model proved to be very effective and according to Smith (2013), 25 percent of cell phone owners say their phone is an iPhone as of May 2013. This popularity is not without reason; many aspects of the iPhone as it is today are heavily desired by consumers. However, the proprietary model for Apples products has its downsides for consumers as well. Since all iPhones are sold by Apple, there is no competition between manufacturers, resulting in higher prices and less powerful hardware than might be available with a more competitive iPhone market. Apples iOS features some of the most simple and easy to use software applications available. Their all-in-one package of simple to use phone features like calling and messaging, their near perfect Safari browser, and a reliable, safe App Store filled with apps that are all preapproved by Apple results in a nice bubble of usability and simplicity (Segan, 2013). Everything

SMARTPHONE OPERATING SYSTEMS

just works, a mantra that Apple has stuck by since they began making their Mac desktop operating systems. On the other hand, there is a distinct lack of customizability built in to iOS. Apple relies on its pre-installed applications being top-notch so that no one should want to change them. From a consumers standpoint, these can be deciding factors. Getting a device that just works will always be a desirable trait, and looking elegant and having some of the best app support helps as well. As Bajarin (2012) argues, consumers constantly tell us that while choice is nice, in reality they want the process of choosing a tech product to be simple and not complicated by a plethora of choices. Apple always has only one or two devices to choose from, a high-end option and perhaps a more budget friendly one as well. This makes the choice extremely simple for consumers, especially when compared to the plethora of different Android and Windows Phones to choose between. iOS features handy tools for interacting with the online world, by integrating their iTunes, iCloud and iMessage product lines for seamless integration across platforms and devices. iTunes is well known for its easy to use synchronization, requiring only that the user plugs his or her phone into a computer with iTunes installed, for the music library to be transferred (Gralla, 2011). iOSs mail services are arguably the best among any smartphone, allowing for a simple and easy to set up universal mailbox which can integrate any type of email address (Hattersley, 2013). Another innovative feature of iOS is its FaceTime capability, allowing for unlimited phone calls, with an optional live video feed, between any two iPhone users (Gralla, 2011). The Siri voice assistant, arguably the most impressive voice recognition software out there, is a helpful and easy way to navigate the iPhone as well (Hattersley, 2013).

SMARTPHONE OPERATING SYSTEMS

Googles Android Googles Android is another major contender in the smartphone market. Smiths (2013) statistics show that 28 percent of adults who own a phone say it is an Android, which is 3 percent higher than those who said they owned an iPhone in 2013. However, this number is actually lower the correct percentage of Android users. In fact, Caleb Garling (2013) reports that Android sold a whopping 135.8 million smartphones using the Android operating system in the third quarter of 2012, about 75 percent of all smartphones sold in that quarter. Every manufacturer of Android devices has the ability to completely change the way the operating system looks, making it a much more varied and potentially confusing choice for consumers (Hattersley, 2013). In addition to the manufacturers ability to customize, users can customize Android devices to work exactly as they want it to, with the ability to customize and replace any preinstalled application, from messaging, contacts, calendars and music players all the way to the lock screen and launchers (Gralla, 2011). No matter how the applications are customized, the home screen panes are simply more powerful than iOSs, giving users the ability to add application widgets for quick, easy access on the home screens (Segan, 2013). Googles Play Store application marketplace also showcases the largest number of apps in any application market, over 600,000, due to the fact that they do not closely evaluate every application, like Apple does, before allowing it into the Play Store (Hattersley, 2013). There is also nothing stopping users from downloading applications from places other than the Play Store, like there is built in to iOS. For users who do not want to spend time and effort customizing their experience to their liking, the messaging and calling applications built in to Android devices are not on the same level of usability and simplicity of iOSs similar applications (Gralla, 2011).

SMARTPHONE OPERATING SYSTEMS

Android is an open platform, which means that any company can make a phone to run the Android operating system, resulting in the most choices in shape, size, and power of the device (Gralla, 2011). Google has phones being sold by every carrier, at every price point. The brand new, top tier Android devices are generally more powerful in terms of hardware than iPhones, thanks to the multitude of manufacturers in competition with each other. This competition will ensure Android continues to have the most powerful smartphones out there. A detriment to having many different smartphone manufacturers is that updates are not regulated as well. Since the updates are controlled by the manufacturers, some software updates will be late and some will not be compatible at all (Dolcourt, 2011). Android is well known for its Google integration. Gmail, Google+, Google Maps and of course the Google search engine are all flawlessly integrated into every Android device. Google Maps specifically is an extremely powerful GPS navigation system, which is often used on iOS over Apples map application (Hattersley, 2013). Google Now is an information hub that uses the users location, search and browsing histories, and past behavior on the phone to display relevant information such as weather and news updates, all without any input from the user. Some users may find this slightly disturbing, and they can turn off the setting that allows Google to use their information; however, its convenience in certain situations is undeniable. As Hattersley (2013) mentions, Travel information, currency rates when overseas and other pertinent information is served up as a flash card when Google reckons youll find it most helpful. Microsofts Windows Phone

SMARTPHONE OPERATING SYSTEMS

Windows Phone 8 is Microsofts smartphone operating system. Microsoft put a heavy emphasis on each users experience being simple, easy to use, and always the same from device to device. The simple yet effective Metro layout features tiles that open applications upon tapping, but also display useful information at a glance (Gralla, 2011). As Jessica Dolcourt (2011) argues, Windows Phone has the cleanest OS of the three and is the easiest for getting in and out, at least as far as the main screens go. With only two home screens to toggle between, it's hard to get lost. The Calendar application shows the next upcoming appointment and the pictures application scrolls through all of the pictures saved on the phone. Not only can these pre-installed applications use this feature, but third-party developers have the ability to integrate this live information feed into their applications as well. Instead of multiple screens of applications like Android and iOS, Windows Phones tiles scroll downwards infinitely, allowing the user to resize these tiles as he or she sees fit, with the only other screen being a simple A-Z list of every application (Hattersley, 2013). While different, this layout is very easy to use for someone new to smartphones, and quick for people who dont want to spend a lot of times with their face to the screen (Gralla, 2011). Windows Phone features Microsofts powerful Office application suite, including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote, incorporated directly into the operating system (Dolcourt, 2011). While the other smartphone operating systems have clones of Office that can work for the same purpose, Microsoft Office itself has compatibility benefits that the other phones dont enjoy. It also showcases OneDrive cloud service integration, and a very simple and easy to use People application, which integrates all social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) in to one, preinstalled feature. Xbox Live can also be used in Windows Phone, with some games in the

SMARTPHONE OPERATING SYSTEMS

application marketplace having unlockable achievements that add to the users Xbox Live Gamerscore, an interesting feature that could be expanded on by Microsoft in the future. As of 2013, Smith (2013) cites that only 4% of people who own smartphones say it is a Windows Phone. Windows Phones are significantly less popular than iPhones and Android phones, and as a result they have significantly less third party application support. Some popular applications either are late to come to Windows Phone, or are never available to Windows Phone users at all (Hattersley, 2013). Which Smartphone Operating System Stands Above the Rest? The most important thing when purchasing a smartphone is getting the one that fits the users needs. Androids large application store and impressive customizability options allow for limitless potential for those willing and able. Along with their Google integration, Android offers a solid user experience surrounded by a slew of features. Windows Phones OneDrive cloud service integrates flawlessly between any Windows computer and phone, and the entire Microsoft Office suite may be extremely useful for some users. Windows Phones differently styled user interface may also appeal to some users. However, overall, the best operating system in terms of third-party application support, ease of use, and features iOS takes the cake. Flawless integration of other Apple service such as iTunes, iCloud, the Apple cloud storage service, and the Siri voice assistant provide for an experience like no other. Additionally, the proprietary model for the phone allows Apple to provide a truly integrated hardware and software experience. Because its so popular, applications from the App Store often make their debut with Apple, and Apple pre-screens each application before allowing it into the App Store, giving iOS the best application store in terms

SMARTPHONE OPERATING SYSTEMS

10

of quality. For now, iOS sits on top as the best operating system, but its competitors will be constantly trying to overtake it, and in the end every competitive smartphone will be running an operating system that will not disappoint.

SMARTPHONE OPERATING SYSTEMS

11

References Bajarin, T. (2012, May 7). 6 Reasons Apple Is So Successful. Retrieved February 3, 2014, from TIME Tech: http://techland.time.com/2012/05/07/six-reasons-why-apple-is-successful/ Dolcourt, J. (2011, November 23). Android vs. iPhone vs. Windows Phone: Pick your smartphone OS. Retrieved February 15, 2014, from CNet: http://www.cnet.com/830117918_1-57327800-85/android-vs-iphone-vs-windows-phone-pick-your-smartphone-os/ Garling, C. (2013, January 2). Andriod dominates mobile market. Retrieved from SFGate: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Android-dominates-mobile-market-4160406.php Gralla, P. (2011, March 17). Smartphone OS shootout: Android vs. iOS vs. Windows Phone. Retrieved from Computer World: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9214206/Smartphone_OS_shootout_Android_v s._iOS_vs._Windows_Phone_?taxonomyId=15&pageNumber=2 Hattersley, R. (2013, May 1). What's the best mobile OS: iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8 or Blackberry 10? Retrieved March 12, 2014, from http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/buyingadvice/mobile-phone/3445056/whats-best-mobile-os/?pn=1 Segan, S. (2013, March 27). Smartphone OS Showdown. Retrieved from PC Mag: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2417059,00.asp Smith, A. (2013). Smartphone Ownership - 2013 Update. Pew Research Center. West, J. &. (2010). Browsing as the killer app: Explaining the rapid success of Apple's iPhone. Telecommunications Policy, 270-286.