10 Mobile Operating Systems You’ve Never Heard Of (But Should Try)

Exploring Lesser Known Mobile Operating Systems: A Look at the Alternatives to Android and iOS

As we rely more and more on our mobile devices for both personal and professional use, the operating systems that power them have become increasingly important. While Android and iOS are undeniably dominant in the market, there are other mobile platforms out there offering unique features and experiences worth considering. Here we take a closer look at some of the lesser-known mobile operating systems that may surprise you.

Ubuntu for Android
Ubuntu is a household name in the Linux desktop computing world, known for being a free alternative to Windows and macOS. Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, is now entering the mobile market with Ubuntu for Android. This operating system utilizes Android’s kernel and drivers but offers a more desktop-like experience, allowing seamless transitions between work, play, and on-the-go use of your device.

One of the most impressive features of Ubuntu for Android is its ability to harness the power of multicore devices, access hardware more directly and provide a full range of Microsoft Office Suite like desktop applications. Canonical aims to bridge the gap between a phone and a laptop, transforming the hand-held device into a work productivity beast. While phones running Ubuntu’s mobile OS are not yet widely available, keep an eye out for their imminent release.

Firefox OS
Mozilla, developers of the popular Firefox web browser, is entering the mobile OS market with Firefox OS, a Linux-based operating system. Firefox OS is based on open standards and community-supported software, and it offers a truly adaptive phone experience. Your device will anticipate your needs and provide the information you want from a variety of sources, including helpful local content.

Firefox OS is currently only available on a few devices, but it promises to continue to expand in the future. Mozilla has a strong track record of making excellent software, so it will be exciting to see how their mobile operating system develops and grows.

Sailfish OS
Sailfish OS is a Linux-based mobile operating system that leverages Mer, the successor to Nokia’s short-lived MeeGo operating system. Sailfish OS has a user interface that is gesture-based, and it focuses on multitasking. One of Sailfish OS’s main advantages is that it has a vast catalog of apps and software, as it is compatible with software made for Android, Linux, Mer/MeeGo, and anything written in HTML5. 

Sailfish OS enabled smartphones may not be in popular circulation, but the Finnish start-up Jolla continues to develop and support the platform. At present, Sailfish OS-friendly phones are obtainable in the EU, Switzerland, and Norway.

MIUI is a heavily modified version of Android OS and is created and sustained by Xiaomi Tech, a Chinese electronics company. MIUI offers a level of customization beyond stock Android, allowing users to apply custom themes, lock screens, fonts, and much more. The UI is somewhat similar to that of the iPhone’s, with glossy icons and smooth screen transitions. Furthermore, MIUI has built-in security features such as network monitoring, spam, and virus protection for added user-protection. 

To obtain MIUI, you need to install it yourself on a compatible Android device and root/unlock your smartphone first. Not undertaking the installation process correctly can hamper your warranty. So, it’s essential to do your research before installing the MIUI operating system. MIUI can be installed on a wide range of compatible devices, which can be confirmed on the company’s official website.

Tizen is a Linux-based operating system developed specifically for embedded devices like smartphones, tablets, TVs, laptops, and cameras. Its main attraction is the promise of offering a consistent user experience across a wide range of devices, being developed by tech giants such as Samsung and Intel. 

The development of Tizen has encountered several setbacks and delays over the years. Nonetheless, Samsung is making bold moves by releasing the Samsung Z with Tizen instead of Android. The Samsung Z is scheduled for release in Russia during Q3 2021, with planned further releases in other global markets soon after.

Closing Thoughts
While Android and iOS are the current dominant forces in the mobile OS market, there are alternatives worth considering. These lesser-known mobile operating systems offer unique and exciting features such as Ubuntu for Android’s seamless transition between a phone and a laptop and Tizen’s promise of a consistent experience across a range of devices. It’s essential to stay curious about what’s out there and keep an open mind to new possibilities. These new possibilities may introduce you to new experiences, making you more appreciative of what your current device may offer or may encourage you to move to something different.

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