The first time Microsoft put Windows on a phone, it looked pretty much like Windows 95 on a tiny screen, complete with Start button. Now the trend is reversing – both Apple and Microsoft are incorporating mobile user interface elements into their latest desktop operating systems, and independent developers are customizing Android for inexpensive PCs.
Apple started making Mac OS X more like iOS with the current version 10.7 Lion. The default setting for touchpad scrolling is the opposite of the previous version. Instead of using two fingers to drag the scrollbar down, you now push the content (web page, Word document, etc.) up. That makes perfect sense on a phone or tablet, where your finger is touching the content you’re moving around, but it requires a bit of getting used to when you’re not touching the screen directly.
More changes are ahead in version 10.8 Mountain Lion that iPhone and iPad users will recognize. Reminders, Notes, and Game Center are now on both iOS and Mac OS X, along with enhanced iCloud support. The iChat application is renamed Messages and supports the iMessage communication system. There is also a notification center very similar to the top bar of an iPhone.
Microsoft, meanwhile, is creating a single operating system for both desktops and tablets. Windows 8 has most of the familiar windows full of files and icons for launching programs, but is overlaid with the new Metro interface. It consists of the same Live Tiles present in Windows Phone 7.5, which are colorful squares that both launch apps and display the latest updates from those apps all the time.
Gestures from the sides of the screen bring up configuration menus and apps can be docked side by side. If need be, you can bypass Metro to bring up older desktop programs. Mobile apps for Metro on phone, tablet, or desktop will all be interoperable.
Android’s Google operating system is made for phones and tablets, but its open source nature has long made it a favorite for hackers. One of the latest projects putting Android on different hardware is the APC by chipmaker VIA. Its specs are lower than some modern phones – it runs an 800MHz ARM processor and 512MB of memory. It has more connectivity options, though, with four USB 2.0 ports, a microSD card slot, Gigabit Ethernet, a VGA connector, and HDMI for video up to 720p.
This tiny PC costs just $49 and includes a 15W power adapter, but not a case. The operating system has been modified to work with a standard mouse and keyboard rather than a touchscreen.
You can also run Android on your own netbook or desktop with this guide from How-To-Geek. And when you get brilliant ideas for new iOS, Android, or Windows Phone apps, request a call or contact us at 603-881-9200.
Zco Corporation is a custom software company with headquarters in Nashua, New Hampshire, USA specializing in mobile app development, enterprise software, and 3D animation.
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