Operating systems: the lowdown.

Operating systems: the lowdown

Also known as an OS, an operating system is, essentially, the program your phone or tablet uses to run. It’s what lets you play games, use apps, make phone calls, take pictures and check your emails while on the move.

When you choose a laptop or PC, your decision is between Windows or Mac OS X. But when it comes to smartphones it can get a bit trickier. Mainly because there are a few more operating systems to choose from; you’ve got:


  • Apple iOS
  • Google Android
  • Microsoft Windows Phone

For many, providing you like the look, feel and features of your phone, you won’t be too fussed about the operating system that runs in the background.Die-hard Apple and Android fans would beg to differ though, and a lot of iPhone and Samsung customers are fiercely loyal because of the operating system.

Here’s a quick low-down on each operating system, to help you choose which one may be best for you.


As we’ve mentioned – If you’ve got an Apple tablet or phone and you love it, you probably don’t need to do much research to know which operating systemyou want your smartphone to run. But even if you’re new to Apple, don’t be afraid to check iOS out.

iPhone is designed to be user friendly and is at the top of its game. And iOS is loved by all sorts of people – no matter what you’re used to using.


Google’s home-grown operating system is the world’s most popular. Conceived as a rival to iOS, this notion can divide people almost as much as marmite. It’s like the Windows of the PC world, as it can run on many different devices with different screen sizes and form factors.

With this in mind, Android can cater to many different people's needs. Plus, Google is awesome and offers some really great services that are best served on Android, like Google Maps, Google Hangouts and Google Docs.

Microsoft Windows Phone.

For many, the biggest decision to make when buying up a new smartphone is whether to plump for iOS or Android, but Microsoft's Windows Phone is definitely a contender.

Microsoft's app store is growing in scope and you can’t fault the system’s usability. For example, iOS has its icons and folders, Android has its widgets, but Windows Phone's live tiles are perhaps even more flexible and customisable.

Each OS has a different app store.

When you’re choosing your next phone or about to upgrade, don’t forget to consider apps.

If you love apps, or you’re looking to get stuck into them, remember that each OS has a different app store and the selection and range will vary. Android has the Google Play store, and Apple has the App Store, while Microsoft has Windows Marketplace.

Keeping your phone up-to-date.

From time to time you might see software updates for your phone or tablet’s operating system.

These are downloadable files containing improvements to make your OS perform better. A fairly quick update can make a heap of difference to the running of your device.