Over the last couple of weeks we've looked smartphones a few times but haven't really spent much time looking at the different mobile operating systems. Here's a quick tour of the main players...
Windows Mobile or Windows Phone
These handsets run a mobile operating system designed by Microsoft. The bundled software with these units lets you open, create and edit Microsoft Office files as well as run thousands of third party applications. Their connectivity with Microsoft Exchange servers is excellent but web browsing still has room for improvement.
If you expect to receive lots of email and SMS then BlackBerry is still the best messaging platform for mobile workers. Web browsing works but can be a little frustrating as BlackBerry reformats sites to reduce the bandwidth they use. However, the next version of the BlackBerry OS will ship with a Webkit-based browser so that part of the user experience should be greatly enhanced. One of the BlackBerry's big advantages is that the service is very data efficient. Everything is compressed and encrypted so it works well even when connectivity is limited to 2G.
As the new kid on the block, Google's Android operating system has made a huge splash. Already embraced by developers, there are many third party apps to cover almost every user's needs. If any of the entrenched vendors slip up, Android is likely to swoop in and claim more market share.
The iPhone probably offers the best overall package of mobile functions although it's not necessarily the best at anything. While BlackBerry has the best messaging and Windows Mobile and Android offer superior business support for Office files, the iPhone is easy to use and its web browser is still the best for mobile browsing although the lack of Flash support is a real problem. Many of the features taken for granted on other platforms like a unified Inbox for multiple email accounts and multitasking are coming in the soon to be release iPhone OS 4.
This is operating system used by Nokia and Sony Ericsson. While Symbian is very common there are many different versions of it so applications that work on one handset may not work on another. However, it is purpose-built for phones and is reasonably easy to use.
It's with the glint of a tear in our eyes that look back at Palm. For a long time, the Palm OS was THE standard other mobile operating systems were compared to. The software was fast, reliable and there was an incredibly active developer environment. At some point, the fire of innovation dimmed and eventually went out with Palm's hardware ending up running Windows Mobile. In my view, that was the beginning of the end for Palm. Hopefully, HP will resuscitate Palm and we'll see some great new hardware and kick-ass software soon.
MobileModo is Gizmodo Australia’s look at the rise and rise of the mobile phone, from Bell’s landline to the ubiquitous mobiles of today.