Mobile devices use operating systems to function. Two of the major operating systems that mobile devices run on are the Apple iOS for iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches and the Android operating system which runs on most other major brand smartphones and tablet computers. Additionally, the Microsoft Corporation’s Windows Mobile operating system has gradually been gaining popularity, although they own a very small portion of the market and will not be discussed in detail here.
The Android operating system is owned by Google and the iOS is owned by Apple. Both are primarily designed for smartphones and tablet computers. Unlike the Apple iOS, which is a closed system where apps must be approved by Apple before they are made readily available, Android is open-source which allows the Android software and apps to be freely modified by developers and distributors. Android apps are primarily sold through the Google Play Store. Apple apps are sold through the iTunes App Store for iOS Devices. According to a recent study of user reviews and rankings, iOS apps rate slightly higher in quality than Android apps. Both app stores claim to have over 800,000 third party apps. (McCracken, 2013).
It is not readily possible to gain access to the back end file structure of an iOS device such as an iPad or iPhone. Therefore, less customization is possible and the environment in which you download apps is more controlled. With an Android device, you do have access to the back end of the device and greater customization is available both by the device manufacturer and by the consumer. Ultimately, it is up to the buyer to decide which type of device will best suit his or her needs. For example, a Google Nexus device would look different from from a Samsung Galaxy smartphone because the manufacturers are customizing the way the Android platform works and is styalized on their device. The layout of an iPhone and iPad are almost identical, however, because Apple strictly controls the way their devices look
Devices which run iOS are manufactored exclusively by Apple and sold directly to retailers. Android devices are manufactured by many different complanies, such as Samsung, Amazon, Toshiba, Acer, and more. These companies use the Android platform but offer different interfaces that have varying features. Because Android is an open platform, it is possible to customize how it looks. This would not be possible with iOS devices.
In addition to the iOS and Android smartphone and tablet computers, there is also a market of eReader tablets, such as the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet. These eReader tablets function similarly to Android tablet computers and actually run on an Android operating system. Originally, it was not readily possible to use the Google Play store to download apps like you would with other mobile devices running the Android operating system. Instead, Amazon.com (Kindle Fire manufacturer) and Barnes and Noble (Nook Tablet manufacturer) set up the devices so that the primary tools for downloading apps were their own websites. However, in May 2013, Barnes and Noble released a software update for Nook HD and HD+ tablets that allow these devices to directly access the Google Play store and get the full range of Android apps (McCracken, 2013). Kindle Fire tablets still require various “work-arounds” to use Google Play (Nield, 2013).
Update on Kindle Fires: According to an article published by CNN tech on Sept 25, 2013: "The Kindle Fires run on a highly customized, nearly unrecognizable version of the Android Jelly Bean mobile operating system. This year, Amazon is finally marking the OS as its own and giving it a name, Fire OS 3.0, code name 'Mojito'...The Fire has primarily been marketed as a content consuming device, a physical portal into Amazon's vast ecosystem of books, movies, music and other goods. In the past year, the company noticed an increase in the number of people using it as a work and productivity device.To make it more workplace friendly, they improved productivity apps like e-mail and document reading and included security features like native VPN support, data encryption and Kerberos authentication."
This brings up an interesting point. Corrie's lending program presentation is on eReaders as " electronic readers" as ways to access print books in a digital format. Kieran's presentation is on iPads (tablet computers) as productivity devices. However, the articles referenced above, demonstrate that eReaders are gradually transforming into tablet computers (productivity devices) similar to the iPad.