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In the second part of our smartphone glossary, Ernest Doku tells us what a mobile phone operating system is, what it does and why it matters: 

Just as smartphones are like pocket computers, they have their own software that they need to run on and perform tasks – just like Windows on a PC.

In fact, there is even a dedicated mobile version of Windows – imaginatively called ‘Windows Phone’ – that enables handsets to perform similar functions as their desktop counterparts.

In addition to providing an intuitive user experience, Windows Phone is able to support Word documents, Office files and even browsing with a mobile equivalent of Internet Explorer.

Various handsets from different manufacturers operate use different software, meaning that the experience may differ slightly, even though there are often similar underlying nuts and bolts to the operating system (or ‘OS’).

Whilst the iPhone uses Apple’s own operating system dubbed ‘iOS’, an increasing proportion of devices are powered by Google’s OS called ‘Android’.

Tomorrow: Android: how Google took on the mobile phone industry

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Blog: What exactly IS a smartphone anyway? Ernest Doku explains…