Current trends in operating system design

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Key points

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  • Operating systems are increasingly designed to work with low-power, mobile devices
  • Operating systems are expected to accept input from touchscreens
  • Operating systems are becoming specific to particular tasks, e.g. embedded into smart TVs
  • Operating systems are designed to work on different platforms such as wearable technology, mobile devices and embedded devices

Further information

In the last decade, many OSes have added support for touchscreen control, due to the rise in touchscreen-enabled devices like smartphones and tablets. This technology can be used on desktop and laptop computers. Touchscreen devices have necessitated a new approach to GUIs, with simpler, icon based interfaces working better with a touchscreen than a traditional WIMP (Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointers) interface such as Mac OS or Windows. Some tasks still require the complex control available with a keyboard and mouse, such as graphics editing, video editing and developing software and web pages.

Operating systems have different purposes. Loses like iOS and Android are being developed specifically for mobile devices and tablets, whereas Mac OS and Linux are mainly for desktop and laptop computers. Some OSes like Windows attempt to unify the experience between tablet and desktop computer, but this approach is currently not popular.

Operating systems are embedded in devices such as routers, smart TVs, set top boxes and smart energy terminals. New watches and wearable technologies like fitness trackers often have their own operating system, and can work independently of a computer or phone.

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