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Alternatives to iOS and Android: Mobile Operating Systems for Dummies

Alternatives to iOS and Android: Mobile Operating Systems for Dummies

When it comes to the software that runs on mobile phones and tablets, two names stand out above the rest: Android and iOS, the most prominent mobile operating systems currently available.

iOS is developed by Apple and only runs on specific Apple hardware, like the iPhone and iPad. Android, on the other hand, is developed by Google and can be found on a very wide variety of devices from different manufacturers. Due to the fact that Google makes the code for much of Android freely available, anyone from hobbyists to large corporations can build on top of the Android platform.

While both of these pieces of software are hugely popular, well designed, usable and adored by their respective fans, they are not the only mobile operating systems out there. Here are a few lesser-known mobile platforms that might be worth a deeper look.

Ubuntu for Android

In the desktop computing world, Canonical’s Ubuntu Linux has gained significant traction as a free alternative to OSX and Windows, and they are now poised to break into the phone market with Ubuntu for Android.

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Ubuntu for Android utilizes Android’s kernel (a core component of the OS) and its drivers, but promises to unleash the true power of multicore devices by accessing the hardware more directly than Android does. Canonical, the commercial entity behind Ubuntu, wants to bridge the gap between your phone and your laptop by bringing a full range of desktop applications to the mobile market, with a focus on true multitasking. Ultimately, they want their users to plug their phones into docks, which provides a laptop-like experience, allowing seamless transitions between work, play and on-the-go use of your handheld device.

Phones running Ubuntu’s mobile OS should be released sometime this year, so keep on the lookout.

Firefox OS

Mozilla, makers of the popular Firefox web browser, are also throwing their hat in the ring and developing an operating system for the mobile market. Firefox OS is Linux-based, like Android, but seeks to differentiate itself by focusing more on utilizing open standards and community supported software as opposed to closed source, proprietary tools.

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    Firefox OS offers what they are calling a truly adaptive phone experience. This means that your device will anticipate your needs and instantly deliver the information that you want from a variety of sources, including useful local content.

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    Firefox OS is currently only available on a handful of devices, but you can expect to see that expand in the near future.

    Sailfish OS

    Developed by Finnish startup Jolla, Sailfish OS is a Linux-based mobile operating system that utilizes Mer, the successor to Nokia’s short-lived MeeGo operating system. The user interface is gesture based, with the a focus on multitasking.

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      One distinct advantage that Sailfish OS boasts over the competition is a huge catalog of apps and software, as it is compatible with software made for Android, Linux, Mer/MeeGo and anything written in HTML5.

      Phones featuring Sailfish OS are currently available in the EU, Switzerland and Norway, at Jolla.com

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      MIUI

      MIUI (pronounced “Me-You-I”) is a heavily modified version of the Android OS, made and maintained by Xiaomi Tech, a Chinese electronics company. MIUI offers a higher level of customization than stock Android, allowing users to apply custom themes, lock screens, fonts and more.

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        MIUI has built-in network monitoring, spam and virus protection, a data backup app and other useful and unique features. The UI is somewhat similar to that of the iPhone, with its glossy icons and smooth screen transitions.

        To get MIUI, you must install it yourself on a compatible Android device, after first rooting and unlocking your phone. The process to accomplish this varies greatly by device and may very well void your warranty, so do your homework. For a list of compatible devices, head on over to MIUI’s website.

        Tizen

        Tizen is an operating system based on the Linux kernel, and is designed specifically for embedded devices including smartphones, tablets, TVs, laptops and cameras. It aims to offer a consistent user experience across a wide range of devices. Tizen is developed by the Linux Foundation, which is governed by such tech industry giants as Samsung, Intel and others.

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          While the development of Tizen has been plagued by setbacks and delays, having been declared dead several times over the years, it was just announced last month that the upcoming Samsung Z will ship with Tizen instead of Android. The Z will be released in Russia in the third quarter of this year, with plans to bring it to further markets shortly thereafter.

           

          This is certainly an exciting time in the smartphone world, as competition from new mobile OS makers leads to innovation and, ultimately, an even richer phone experience for end users. What new features you would like to see on your mobile device? Let us know in the comments.

          Featured photo credit: Alfredo Cáceres / Phone Users via flic.kr

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          Last Updated on November 5, 2019

          5 Best Language Learning Apps to Master a New Language

          5 Best Language Learning Apps to Master a New Language

          Learning a new language is no easy feat. While a language instructor is irreplaceable, language learning apps have come to revolutionize a lot of things and it has made language learning much easier. Compared to language learning websites, apps offer a more interactive experience to learn a new language.

          The following language learning apps are the top recommended apps for your language learning needs:

          1. Duolingo

            Duolingo is a very successful app that merged gamification and language learning. According to Expanded Ramblings, the app now counts with 300 million users.

            Duolingo offers a unique concept, an easy-to-use app and is a great app to accompany your language acquisition journey. The courses are created by native speakers, so this is not data or algorithm-based.

            The app is free and has the upgrade options with Duolingo Plus for $9.99, which are add free lessons. The mobile app offers 25 languages and is popular for English-speaking learners learning other languages.

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            Download the app

            2. HelloTalk

              HelloTalk aims to facilitate speaking practice and eliminate the stresses of a real-time and life conversation. The app allows users to connect to native speakers and has a WhatsApp like chat that imitates its interface.

              There is a perk to this app. The same native speakers available also want to make an even exchange and learn your target language, so engagement is the name of the game.

              What’s more, the app has integrated translation function that bypasses the difficulties of sending a message with a missing word and instead fills in the gap.

              Download the app

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              3. Mindsnacks

                Remember that Duolingo has integrated gamification in language learning? Well, Mindsnacks takes the concept to another level. There is an extensive list of languages available within the app comes with eight to nine games designed to learn grammar, vocabulary listening.

                You will also be able to visualize your progress since the app integrates monitoring capabilities. The layout and interface is nothing short of enjoyable, cheerful and charming.

                Download the app

                4. Busuu

                  Bussu is a social language learning app. It is available on the web, Android, and iOS. It currently supports 12 languages and is free.

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                  The functionality allows users to learn words, simple dialogues and questions related to the conversations. In addition, the dialogues are recorded by native speakers, which brings you close to the language learning experience.

                  When you upgrade, you unlock important features including course materials. The subscription is $17 a month.

                  Download the app

                  5. Babbel

                    Babbel is a subscription-based service founded in 2008. According to LinguaLift, it is a paid cousing of Duolingo. The free version comes with 40 classes, and does not require you to invest any money.

                    Each of the classes starts with with a sequential teaching of vocabulary with the help of pictures. The courses are tailor made and adapted to the students’ level, allowing the learning to be adjusted accordingly.

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                    If you started learning a language and stopped, Babbel will help you pick up where you started.

                    Download the app

                    Takeaways

                    All the apps recommended are tailored for different needs, whether you’re beginning to learn a language or trying to pick back up one. All of them are designed by real-life native speakers and so provide you with a more concrete learning experience.

                    Since these apps are designed to adapt to different kinds of learning styles, do check out which one is the most suitable for you.

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                    Featured photo credit: Yura Fresh via unsplash.com

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