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Mobile Operating System 

A Mobile Operating System, also referred to as Mobile OS, is an Operating System that operates a Smartphone, Tablet, PDA, or other mobile device. 

Modern mobile operating systems combine the features of a personal computer operating system with other features, including a touchscreen, cellular, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS mobile navigation, camera, video camera, speech recognition, voice recorder, music player, near field communication and infrared blaster.  

Mobile devices with mobile communications capabilities (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.  

Common Software Platforms  

The most common mobile operating systems are:  

Android Mobile Operating System  

Android is from Google Inc. Most of the Android is free and open source, but large amount of software on Android devices (such as such as Play Store, Google Search, Google Play Services, Google Music, and so on) are proprietary and licensed. Android's releases prior to 2.0 (1.0, 1.5, 1.6) were used exclusively on mobile phones. Android 2.x releases where 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.   

The current Android version is 4.4. Android's releases are nicknamed after sweets or dessert items like Cupcake (1.5), Donut (2.0), Eclair (2.1) Frozen Yogurt ("Froyo") (2.2), Ginger Bread (2.3), Honeycomb (3.0), Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0), Jelly Bean (4.1), (4.2), (4.3) and Kit Kat (4.4). Most major mobile service providers carry an Android device. Since HTC Dream was introduced, there has been an explosion in the number of devices that carry Android OS. From second quarter of 2009 to the second quarter of 2010, Android's worldwide market share rose 850% from 1.8% to 17.2%. On November 15, 2011, Android reached 52.5% of the global smartphone market share.  

Blackberry Mobile Operating System  

BlackBerry 10 BlackBerry. It is closed source and proprietary. BlackBerry 10 (previously BlackBerry BBX) was the next generation platform for BlackBerry smartphones and tablets. One OS was planned for both Blackberry smartphones and tablets going forward.  


iOS is from Apple Inc. It is closed source and proprietary and built on open source Darwin core OS. The Apple iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and second-generation Apple TV all use an operating system called iOS, which is derived from Mac OS X. Native third party applications were not officially supported until the release of iOS 2.0 on July 11, 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  

Windows Phone Operating System  

Windows Phone is from Microsoft. It is closed source and proprietary. On February 15, 2010, Microsoft unveiled its next-generation mobile OS, Windows Phone. The new mobile OS includes a completely new over-hauled UI inspired by Microsoft's "Metro Design Language". It includes full integration of Microsoft services such as Microsoft SkyDrive 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 are made primarily by Nokia, along with HTC, Samsung, Huawei and other OEMs.  

Other Software Platforms  

Firefox OS  

Firefox OS is from non-profit organization Mozilla Foundation. It is open source and uses Mozilla Public License. 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."  

Sailfish OS  

Sailfish OS is from Jolla. It is open source and adopts GPL. After Nokia failed in 2011 with the MeeGo project most of the MeeGo team have left Nokia, and established Jolla as a company to use MeeGo and MER business opportunities. In 2012 Linux Sailfish OS based on MeeGo and using MER core distribution has been launched for public use. The first device, Jolla (mobile phone) was unveiled on 20 May 2013.  


Symbian platform is from Nokia for certain models of their current entry level smartphones. It is proprietary software. Runs Series 40 or S40. The Operating System is found running on Nokia's Asha devices. 


Tizen is hosted by the Linux Foundation and support from the LiMo Foundation, guided by a Technical Steering Group composed of Intel and Samsung. Tizen is an operating system for devices including smartphones, tablets, in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) devices, and smart TVs. It is an open source system 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." HTML5apps 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, tablets, smart TVs and in-vehicle entertainment. On May 17, 2013, Tizen released version 2.1, code-named Nectarine. 

Ubuntu Touch OS  

Ubuntu Touch OS is from Canonical Ltd.. It is open source and uses GPL. 

Historical Software Platforms  

LiMo 4 

LiMo 4 is from the LiMo Foundation. LiMo Foundation launched LiMo 4 on February 14, 2011. LiMo 4 delivers middleware and application functionality, including a flexible user interface, extended widget libraries, 3D window effects, advanced multimedia, social networking and location-based service frameworks, sensor frameworks, multi-tasking and multi-touch capabilities. In addition, support for scalable screen resolution and consistent APIs means that the platform can deliver a consistent user experience across multiple device types and form factors. 


Maemo is from Nokia. It is open source and GPL. Maemo is a platform developed by Nokia for smartphones and Internet tablets. Maemo is based on Debian GNU/Linux and draws much of its 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.  


MeeGo is 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 June 21, 2011 at the Nokia Connection event in Singapore. LG announced its support for the platform. 

Palm OS 

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 capabilities. 


webOS is from LG, although some parts are open source. webOS is a proprietary 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 August 18, 2011, HP announced that webOS hardware was to be discontinued[18] but would continue to support and update webOS software and develop the webOS ecosystem.[19] HP released webOS as open source under the name Open webOS, and plans to update it with additional features. On February 25, 2013 HP announced the sale of WebOS to LG Electronics, who planned to use the operating system for its "smart" or Internet-connected TVs. However HP retained patents underlying WebOS as well as cloud-based services such as the App Catalog. 

Windows Mobile  

Windows Mobile was from Microsoft. It was closed source and proprietary. The Windows CE operating system and Windows Mobile middleware are widely spread in Asia. 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. However, unlike iOS, it supports both touch screen and physical keyboard configurations. Windows Mobile's market share sharply declined to just 5% in Q2 of 2010. Microsoft phased out the Windows Mobile OS to focus on Windows Phone.  

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