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Differences between mobile Operating Systems

Android, Windows, and Apple Logo
Android, Windows, and Apple Logo
Hassan Al-zahrani

Mobile operating systems have become a thing of passion for many people. An integral part of their life, much like religion was, and still is, for some. To be left without their phone they fill lost, disconnected and feeling left out of the grander scheme of things. If this is the case for you, you are likely reliant on your phone for many, if not most, activities throughout your day. Apple iOS, Google Android, and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile, are likely something you've heard of or used. Each mobile operating system has its own perks and is marketed toward specific user types.


Apple’s iOS is the most well-known, with it's hardware counterpart, it has become an icon, recognized by most people in the United States and many around the world. The operating system adheres to Apples closed-ecosystem designed they have become so well known for now. The iOS is functional, simple, intuitive, and offers more apps than you can shake a stick at. The applications must follow strict guidelines that Apple has put in place, or the application will not be accepted or even pulled from the Apple App Store if these guidelines are not followed. This ensures apps are generally functional, not scams, and shouldn't harm your phone or leave it open to attacks.

With the above mentioned information it can seem like a no brainer why the iOS would be the best option but because it is part of the Apple Eco-system it has limited customization. Positioning of the apps, wall paper, and app folders are about the extent of customization. If an application gets pulled down from your favorite developer, it could leave that developer without an app for days, weeks or indefinitely, and leave you with out updates or being able to get the app on new devices. Apple holds its own imagine in high regard and refuses to implement new ideas or features until they have deemed it worthy of integration. The iOS tends to be the last of the mobile operating systems to include new and useful features.


Google’s Android operating system is the most used mobile operating system in the world. The software is open source and any manufacturer can put it on their phones, and developer can develop applications for free. There is no strict requirements or hacks that need to be done to get a newly developed app on your phone and you aren't limited to Google's Android Play Store. In terms of customization, Android is the best way to go. With dozens of launchers easily at your fingertips, with one click of a button you can make you phone look and feel like an iOS or Windows device, or you can go with a high-tech looking view you’d imagine a hacker having on his phone, or something that makes your phone bright pink with kittens playing in the background. There is literally something for everyone with Android.

Android, while offering many apps, and the most customization of any mobile device it does not offer the safety and quality of the iOS. While arguments can and have been made for safety and security of the iOS, as a whole it the Android OS by design offers more ways to be hacked or have something cause system wide instability. Malicious apps can take over the phone, sending text to your contacts on your behalf, lock you out of your phone, or stay silence as you provide some unknown person all of your personal information. Since Google believes in a free and open market, many of the apps are not held to a standard, with the belief that bad apps will fail by natural selection. Unfortunately this breeds a market of apps that, in many cases can be sub-par because the users, don’t know any better, and the app hits the bar that was already lowered. While many apps for Android are amazing, you are likely to find more apps that don’t work with your phone than you ever would with Apples iOS.

Windows Mobile:

Microsoft Windows Mobile 8 is the newest of the operating systems Microsoft has created for the mobile platform. With a focus on customization and the ability to do more in less time, it is a wonder it hasn't caught on more than it has. The operating system has tiles that offer a fair amount of information at a glance. Its most recent version being the pre-release windows 8.1 (due in June 2014) that offers more functionality upgrades than you might expect, and runs even smoother than its predecessor. The operating system is surprisingly simple, and yet offers high functionality. Android being the most difficult OS to dig down into, and iOS being revere for being user friendly, the Windows 8 Mobile version leaves its competition in the dust. Once you've set it up, and learned to use all the features it offers you can do more in less time than you've been conditioned to believe.

While the core functionality is good, and customization is great, the Windows 8 Mobile app store is like the Wild West. With a few official apps from big developers, there is a lack of the big apps you’d tend to see on its competition markets. Most apps are created by people or small groups to emulate the design or function of the big apps on other systems, many of which fall short by a large margin. At a glance you can find 5 YouTube apps, none made by Google, who owns YouTube, all of which have an odd feel. For most apps you'll finally settle for something that is “good enough” but you’re unlikely to be happy with it.

How do you decide what you want or needed with a mobile device? The real answer is whatever best fits your life style. iOS is great for Apps and stability, its system is tried and true and tend to offer the best out of box experience. Android offers the most customization and you can make your phone truly your own. Windows offers a phone that you won’t need to be glued to and just need a glance to find the update or text you want. There are many features each offer that were not covered in this article, and more research may be needed if you are testing the waters in the smart phone market for the first time, but with this information it should be clear which will be the most useful for your lifestyle.

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