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 Mac OS, 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 Phone. Symbian holds a distant fifth place, while merely a year ago it was still the most widely used mobile OS.
Symbian held its top position for years but its market share has been slowly fading away ever since touch-operated smartphones became the norm and Symbian failed to deliver an intuitive touch UI. Almost ten years ago, Microsoft's Windows Mobile was a strong player too, offering the first touchscreen smartphone experience with the PocketPCs powered by their OS.
Today mobile devices with a proper OS are called smartphones and users have a wide choice of applications, such as games, productivity apps, communication or social media apps, digital maps, etc.
Standardized operating system platforms make it possible to provide a consistent user interface (and experience) across devices from different hardware manufacturers. Yet, Android smartphone manufacturers like to customize the user experience so each offers a slightly modified version of the stock Android UI.
While the major players these days are clear, over the years we've seen the emergence of numerous mobile OS projects including but not limited to Palm's webOS, Samsung's Bada OS, Nokia's Maemo OS, Nokia's MeeGo OS, LiMo OS, Tizen, BlackBerry's Playbook OS and more recently, the Jolla's Sailfish OS and Mozilla's Firefox OS.
A-GPS (Assisted GPS) | A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) | AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) | Accelerometer | Airplane mode | Alarm Clock | Alphanumeric | AMOLED display (Active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) | Analog | Android | ANT+ | Antenna | APN (Access Point Name) | Apple iOS | aptX | Audio jack | Auto-focus | AVRCP (Audio/Video Remote Control Profile)
Calculator | Calendar | Call alerts | Calling Plan | Camera | Capacitive Touchscreen | Car Kit | Carrier | CDMA (Code-Division Multiple Access) | CDMA2000 | Cell | Chipset | cHTML (Compact HyperText Markup Language) | CIF (Common Intermediate Format) | Clamshell | CMOS (Complementary metal-oxidesemiconductor) | Color depth | Concatenated SMS | Corning Gorillla Glass | CPU (Central Processing Unit) | Crosstalk | CSTN (Color Super Twisted Nematic) | CTIA | Custom ringtones | CyanogenMod
D-Pad (Direction Pad) | DC-HSDPA (Dual Carrier or Dual Cell High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) | Digital Zoom | Display type | DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) | DNSe (Digital Natural Sound engine) | Downlink | DRM (Digital Rights Management) | Dual-band | Dual-Mode | Dual-SIM | DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting - Handheld) | Dynamic Memory
EDGE (Enhanced Data for Global Evolution) | EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) | EGPRS | EGSM (Extended GSM) | Email client | EMS (Enhanced Message Service) | EV-DO | EV-DV | Exchangeable covers | External Antenna Jack | External Display
FCC (Federal Communications Commission) | Feature Phone | Femtocell | Firefox OS | Firmware | Fixed-focus | Flash Memory | Flight mode | Flip-down phone | FM Radio | FM Transmitter | Form factor | FOTA (Firmware Over-The-Air) | FPS (Frames Per Second) | Frame Error Rate | Frequency | FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
H.263 | Half-QWERTY keyboard layout | Handwriting recognition | Haptics | Hot Spot | Hot Swap | HSCSD (High-Speed Circuit Switched Data) | HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) | HSDPA+ (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access Plus) | HSP (Headset Profile) | HSUPA (High-Speed Uplink Packet Access) | HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) | Hz (Hertz)
Land line | LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) | LED (Light-Emitting Diode) | Li-Ion (Lithium Ion) | Li-Polymer (Lithium Polymer) | LiMo OS | Linux | Location-Based Services (LBS) | Lock code | Long SMS | Long term evolution (LTE) | Loudspeaker
Macro | Maemo OS | mAh | Mass Storage mode | MB (Megabyte) | Mbps (Megabit per second) | MeeGo OS | Megapixel | Memory card slot | Memory effect | Messaging | MHz (Megahertz) | Micro USB | microSD | microSDHC | Microsoft Exchange (Server) | MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) | MIDP (Mobile Information Device Profile) | Mil-Spec (MIL-STD) | MIMO | Mini-USB | miniSD | MMC | MMCmobile | MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) | Mobile games | Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) | Mobile IM (Instant Messaging) | Mobile WiMAX | Mobility DisplayPort (MyDP) | Modem | Monochrome | MP3 (MPEG Layer 3) | MPEG (Motion Picture Experts Group) | MPEG-4 video | Multitouch input method | Music playback time (battery life) | Music Player
Packet Data | Pager | PC Sync | PCS (Personal Communications Service) | PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) | Phone Book Access (PBA) | Phonebook | PIM (Personal Information Manager/Management) | PIN code (Personal Identification Number) | Pixel | Pixel density (PPI) | Polyphonic ringtones | POP3 (Post Office Protocol) | Port | Predictive text input | PTT (Push-To-Talk) | PUK Code (PIN UnlocK Code) | Push
RAM (Random-Access Memory) | RBDS (Radio Broadcast Data System) | RDS (Radio Data System) | Resistive touchscreen | Resolution | Ringer ID | Ringing profiles | Ringtone | Roaming | ROM (Read-Only Memory) | RS-MMC (Reduced-Size Multi Media Card) | RSA (Rural Service Area) | RSS (Rich Site Summary) | Ruggedized (Rugged)
S60 user interface | SAP (SIM Access Profile) | SAR (Specific absorption rate) | Screen protection | SD (Secure Digital) | Secondary camera | Sensors | Side Keys | SIM | SIM lock | Single-Band | Skin | Slimport | Smartphone | SMIL | SMS (Short Messaging Service) | SNS (Social network service) | Soft keys | Soft Reset | Speed Dial | Stand-by time (battery life) | Stereo Speakers | Streaming Video | Stylus | Sub-QCIF | SVGA | Symbian | SyncML
Talk time (battery life) | TCP/IP | TD-SCDMA (Time Division-Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access) | TEST | Tethering | Text messaging (texting) | TFD (Thin Film Diode) | TFT (Thin Film Transistor) | Theme | To-Do list | Touchscreen | Trackball | Transflash | Transflective | Tri-band