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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.

    Device_icon

      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.

      Screenshot_2014-04-17-07-59-49

        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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        Tizen_screenshot_en_original

          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 February 15, 2019

          7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

          7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

          Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

          Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

          Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

          So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

          Joe’s Goals

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            Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

            Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

            Daytum

              Daytum

              is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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              Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

              Excel or Numbers

                If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

                What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

                Evernote

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                  I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

                  Evernote is free with a premium version available.

                  Access or Bento

                    If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                    Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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                    You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                    Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                    All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                    Conclusion

                    I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                    What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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