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  • The Many Tablet Operating Systems Explained
Technology Articles > Gadgets > Tablets > The Many Tablet Operating Systems Explained

28.2 million tablets were shipped in the last quarter alone – that’s a lot of tablets! Most of these tablets were of the iPad variety, though many other manufacturers make interesting tablets too. The biggest problem with the current tablet market is that there are just too many of them. An even bigger problem is trying to figure out which OS to go with and what manufacturers work with which operating systems. If you’re confused by all the operating system jargon, this guide should help you out.

Apple’s iOS

Apple has its own operating system that the iPad runs on. This operating system is called iOS. Incidentally, the iPhone and the iPod Touch also run on iOS. Apple’s iOS is unique in that it provides iPad owners with direct access to more than 200,000 different apps that can be accessed right from the Apple App Store. All of Apple’s apps have been certified and scanned by Apple, so you always know that you’re getting quality apps (for the most part) when you purchase or download a free app from the App Store.

Apple’s iOS is also extremely easy to use and first time users tend to grasp the whole concept of iOS quickly. In addition, the iPad comes with iPad-specific apps that only work with Apple’s tablet and make using the iPad simple. To give you an idea of how popular Apple’s iOS is, Apple sold more than three million iPads within three days of the release of the latest iPad. But, there are other tablets and operating systems on the market like the BlackBerry PlayBook, for example.


RIM (Research In Motion) is the manufacturer behind the BlackBerry PlayBook (and the BlackBerry itself). RIM’s OS is called QNX and it comes with an excellent user interface that really doesn’t get enough attention. If you currently own a BlackBerry phone, you might want to seriously consider RIM’s PlayBook, since this tablet is highly integrated with the BlackBerry. Truth be told, RIM did an excellent job with QNX – once the system was fully developed. Unfortunately for RIM, the company decided to release the tablet and OS before it was complete, and this hindered sales in a major way. However, I urge you to take a close look at the PlayBook before disregarding RIM’s tablet offering.

Google’s Android OS

Google is the force behind Android, but Android is a bit of a complex operating system to understand. A number of manufacturers create tablets that run on Android operating systems and to make matters more confusing, there are a number of different Android operating systems in existence. Ice Cream Sandwich is the latest Android operating system, though few tablets exist that have taken advantage of what Ice Cream Sandwich has to offer – essentially, Ice Cream Sandwich combines Android’s Honeycomb with Gingerbread. Most Android tablets you’ll see currently run on Honeycomb, which is a great operating system that will provide tablet owners with access to Google’s app store. If you’re wondering about the Amazon Kindle Fire or the Barnes and Noble Nook, both of these tablets run on Android’s Gingerbread. All tablets that currently run on Honeycomb will be upgradable to Ice Cream Sandwich in the future, which is something to consider.

Apple, Google, and RIM

So, there you have it. The three main tablet operating systems come from Research In Motion, Apple, and Google (at the time of this writing, that is). Each OS has its own app store, so keep this in mind if apps are important to you. Otherwise, it’s all about the actual tablet, user-friendliness, and how well that tablet will serve your needs.