My OS Love
When it comes to tech, mobile operating systems are pretty much the leading edge of fanboydom. Apple leads by a long way thanks to iOS, Google’s Android also has a huge following, then there’s Windows Phone 7, RIM’s Blackberry, plus a plethora of other much neglected systems. My love, however, goes to webOS.
Why the attraction? Well, I’ve played with almost all of the operating systems out there so how about we set up a list of what I do and don’t like about them.
Apple iOS – You’ve got to hand it to Apple, their marketing is slick, the products are stylish and powerful, and they have covered people’s needs very well. However, the downsides for me are the not very user friendly interface which requires a lot of work to navigate through, and the closed ecosystem. Whilst the closed nature of the ecosystem means very good security, it has meant the need to use one of the nastiest programs ever to be created, iTunes, which I find surpasses even Windows for levels of irritation and system hogging. Beyond that, there is the question of protectionism of Apple by denying apps which are similar to their own.
Google Android – About as open as these things are at the moment, huge app support, an immense amount of hardware available with specs big enough to worry an iPhone. Problem is that with such choice there comes a degree of chaos which tends to hamper the platform. With the advent of the ICS version things have improved but it still remains a case of ‘not all phones are equal’ which makes life a little complicated because your app may r may not work on all phones/tablets. Add to this that the actual navigation is hampered by each manufacturer having their own take on how it should be done, some to better effect than others.
Microsoft WP7 – I like Windows Phone as I’ve used it’s predecessors all the way back to Win CE 3.0, it certainly allowed more effective computing away from a computing and, to be fair, it still holds its own quite well. Again, hardware is looking very good, I’ve had a play with the Lumia 800 which impressed with it’s design, screen etc. I’m a little disappointed with navigation but it’s certainly an OS I would consider come upgrade time, hopefully the tweaks I’d like to see in place will be addressed and it’ll woo me back to the WP fold.
RIM Blackberry – I’ve got to be honest, I’ve not had much to do with Blackberry because their hardware has not been something that I would go for, the tiny screen being most off putting. They did produce a phone which looked to be something I’d consider, with a sliding keyboard but I was in a contract and it looked as though RIM had copied, more or less, the phone I already had. I can’t comment on OS to be honest but without the hardware, it’s hard to thing about the OS that runs on it.
So now we reach webOS. What’s the attraction? The UI is so fast and clear and simple that it shows what the other OSes are missing. Multitasking was built in from the start and navigating shows it. The problem with OS was the hardware was underwhelming to begin with and the app support was slow to get moving. Fortunately, the love for webOS has created the Homebrew community which hacked the phones and created apps available outside the official app environment which allowed a lot of development. On top of that, whilst the hardware was quite well endowed in the customisation department, the hacking then increased it monumentally. Best of all, this hacking went on with the consent of Palm, and the later own HP, something virtually unheard of before or since. You’ve got to respect that.
I’m not going to say that webOS itself doesn’t have issues, there are glitches, but then there always are in any software. The driving force behind the OS has also been a little confused at times (spot the understatement), offending quite a few customers in the process. However, with the webOS team working hard to open source the OS, things are looking up and it’ll certainly be a part of projects I look to play with thanks to the intuitive (and fun – look up ‘webOS toaster’ for proof) nature of the navigation.
Oh and if you don’t believe me about the quality of the UI on webOS then ask why Google employed the man behind it to do the UI for their ICS version.