There is a new promising mobile operating system

Neither Apple nor Google: Are there alternatives to iOS and Android?

You have made up your mind: You want to refuse Apple and Google and thus forego both iOS and Android on your mobile phone. These alternatives exist with smartphone operating systems.

How little choice consumers have when it comes to mobile operating systems was shown recently by a fine imposed on Google by the EU. Google is supposed to pay almost five million Swiss francs to the EU because it has abused its dominant position.

Among other things, Google is accused of forcing Android manufacturers to install various Google apps if they want to use certain essential components of Android, such as the Play Store. It goes without saying that Google denies any wrongdoing.

Indeed, consumer choice is limited. There is now a quasi-duopoly of iOS and Android on the market for smartphone operating systems. A few years ago, alternatives such as BlackBerry OS or Windows Mobile were at least an option, but these have now completely disappeared.

What can the alternatives do?

Therefore, it must first be noted that there are hardly any really practicable alternatives to the two major operating systems for the average user. If you want to use an up-to-date smartphone with the latest features, you usually have to rely on iOS or Android.

Almost all Android manufacturers adapt the operating system to your needs. The appearance of the user interface is adjusted to a greater or lesser extent, but the changes are mostly cosmetic. Even if it says Samsung, Amazon or Huawei on the front, Google is clearly beating at the heart with its services.

The story of iOS

The first operating system for the iPhone was still called iPhoneOS. Basically it already had the structure we know today, only the look has changed a bit over the years.

Image: Getty Images

With the introduction of apps and the associated app store, Apple created a whole new industry.

Image: Apple

With iPhoneOS 3, push notifications were introduced for the first time, a feature that is also indispensable today.

Image: Apple

Now the iPhone operating system got its name, which is still valid today. The new features included multitasking, also hotly anticipated, as well as the FaceTime video chat. In addition, you could now create app folders.

Image: Getty Images

With iOS 5, Apple started its chat service iMessage. In addition, there was now a notification center for better order. With iCloud, data can now be conveniently backed up. And the personal assistant Siri appeared for the first time, initially exclusively on the iPhone 4s.

Image: Apple

The most prominent feature of iOS 6, Apple Maps, began as a complete disaster. The replacement for Google Maps turned out to be completely immature and literally sent users into dead ends.

Image: Getty Images

iOS 7 brought the first major graphic redesign of the operating system. In the new look, which largely still exists today, everything is suddenly much flatter. In addition, there was now a new control center for quickly changing settings and AirDrop, for quickly sending files to other iOS devices.

Image: Apple

With iOS 8 came “Health”, a central app in which the health data of the users can be collected. In addition, you could now put widgets in the notification center.

Image: Apple

With iOS 9, Apple mainly focused on its own apps. The notes app was given a makeover, and Apple Maps was also improved. A battery saver mode should help extend battery life.

Image: Apple

On iOS 10, Apple's own apps that you don't need could be removed from the home screen for the first time. iMessage became much more colorful and now had numerous effects on board. Siri now also interacted with third-party apps.

Image: Apple

The next iOS version is already in the starting blocks, and iOS 11 is expected to be launched at the end of September.

Image: Apple

Big players gave up

A few years ago there was still hope. For example, Canonical and Mozilla, two big players in the open source area, were busy developing a mobile operating system for smartphones. But in the meantime the development of both Ubuntu Touch and Firefox OS have been stopped. The biggest problem is that it is virtually impossible for users to change the operating system on their smartphone.

On most computers, be it Windows PCs or Macs, alternative operating systems, especially Linux variants, can be installed relatively easily. It's a completely different story on smartphones. Unless you buy a device with an alternative operating system directly, the installation of the same is usually very difficult if not impossible.
Developing an operating system that runs almost nowhere is hardly economical and also the main reason why Android hardly gets any serious competition. Here we show who is currently standing across the board:

Option 1: Sailfish OS

The most promising project at the moment is called Sailfish OS. It is mainly being developed by former Nokia employees at Jolla. Jolla has launched two smartphones of the same name with Sailfish OS, but is mainly concentrating on licensing the operating system for other manufacturers.

These can adapt Sailfish OS to suit your preferences and then usually use their own name for the operating system. A big plus point of Sailfish OS: It is compatible with Android apps. So users can choose from the huge pool of Android apps.

Unofficially, Sailfish can also be installed on a number of Android phones, including relatively popular models such as the Sony Xperia X or the Nexus 5. A list of supported devices can be found here. However, the installation should only be carried out by absolute professionals. However, if you want to get rid of Android completely, Sailfish OS is currently the only option.

Option 2: LineageOS

Strictly speaking, LineageOS is not a pure Android alternative, as it is also based on Android. Here, however, all Google services and apps were dispensed with and only the open source foundation of Android was used.

This means that LineageOS (formerly known as CyanogenMod) is compatible with a large number of Android smartphones, including current flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S9. A list of supported devices can be found here, each with instructions for installation, which again should only be carried out by experienced users.

By not using the Google services, of course, you also have no access to the Play Store and therefore you cannot easily install apps. The Google services including the Play Store can be upgraded with LineageOS, but then of course you are back in the Google empire.

Option 3: Tizen

For the sake of completeness, Tizen, Samsung's mobile operating system, should also be mentioned. And that despite the fact that, with a few exceptions, it did not make the leap to smartphones. The ambition was there, but even a mega-corporation like Samsung is unlikely to compete with Google.

Hence, Tizen is mainly used for TVs, smartwatches, and household appliances such as Samsung refrigerators and washing machines. On smartphones, Tizen can only be found on the cheap Samsung Z1 to Z4 devices, which are mainly sold in developing countries.

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