The Operating System is a base infrastructure software component of a computerized system. It controls all basic operations of the computer (or other electronic devices such as PDA, smartphone, etc.). The Operating System allows the user to install and execute third-party applications (commonly called apps for short), usually adding new functionality to the device.
Among the most popular computer operating systems are Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s MacOS, along with the various distributions of Linux.
The most popular OS’s for mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) are Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android and they are the only ones that still show growth. Down the ranks there are RIM’s BlackBerry OS and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile. Symbian holds a distant fifth place, while it wasn’t that long ago it was still the most widely used mobile OS.
Previously iPhone OS, Apple’s iOS is the company’s own mobile operating system developed and originally released on the Apple iPhone and the Apple iPod Touch back in 2007.
Several years later it was renamed to iOS and was extended to support other Apple devices such as the iPad, 4th Generation Apple TV and the Apple Home Pod.
Unlike Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Phone, Apple does not license iOS to other manufacturers and it is the sole maker and seller of iOS devices.
Android – definition
Introduction to Android
Android is based on a modified Linux kernel which was initially developed by Android Inc., a company co-founded by Andy Rubin in October 2003, and purchased by Google in 2005 for circa $50 million.
Google released its Beta mobile phone operating system, Android, on the 5 November 2007, the same year Apple launched the iPhone, with Google releasing its first SDK one week later, on 12 November 2007.
Licensing and Google Mobile Services
Not all devices running Android are equal though. Once Google launches an Android release, it makes the source code available via an open source license allowing for distribution and modification. However, to use the Android trademark, device manufacturers have to license this separately from Google.
Additionally, the Android OS doesn’t include that many core apps. Those apps that we take for granted such as the Play Store, Chrome, Gmail, Maps and the API’s that access Google’s services are part of Google’s Mobile Services, which has to be licensed separately from Google. Google will only grant licenses to manufactures that meet its strict compatibility requirements along with other criteria.
This explains why Amazon’s Fire tablets, which run a ‘forked’ version of Android, don’t make any reference to Android – instead choosing to call its operating System Fire OS. Similarly, Amazon doesn’t license Google Mobile Services and provides its own browser called ‘silk,’ Amazon app store and other supporting apps that access Amazon’s eco-system.