If you’ve been hearing about Android this and iOS that, you might be wondering what it all means, and how it relates to your smartphone! With so many different phones hitting the market, it’s no wonder you’re confused.

So if you’re looking to discover the difference between a Windows Phone and an Android, or why there are separate apps for iPhone and apps for Android, all will be explained…

So what are operating systems?

Operating systems are essentially programmes which control the things you do on your phone, from sending text messages to displaying your photos.

There are a number of systems for computers as well as mobile phone operating systems including Android, iOS and Windows Phone.

What is iOS?

iOS is Apple’s operating system used to power the iPhone and iPad. So what does iOS stand for? Originally iOS stood for iPhone operating system, but with the release of Apple’s iPads and the Apple Watch, the name was shortened slightly.

ios 8 on the iphone 5s

There have been many versions of the Apple operating system, with a new update every year. At the moment the latest iPhones come with iOS 8 downloaded, though the upcoming iPhone 6s could well see the birth of iOS 9.  Are you a fan? Then check out these Apple iPhone deals, there’s everything from the budget iPhone 5c to the the brand new iPhone 5s.

Android OS

The Android operating system is powered by the internet giant Google, and as a result you’ll find a shed load of Google features on your Android phone, including Google Chrome for browsing the web, Google Hangouts for sending messages and the Google Play Store to download all your apps.

Compared to iOS, Android is a more open operating system, which means that a number of phone manufacturers like Samsung, HTC or Sony can all use Android to power their smartphones. Because of this, Android fans get a lot more choice when it comes to picking a new phone!

google android lollipop os

Another cool fact about the Android OS is that it names each new update after a sweet treat. Starting out at Android Cupcake, each version of the system has gone through the alphabet to include Donut, Éclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, Kit Kat, and the latest, Android Lollipop. So what’s in store for Android M? Mango, perhaps? Or how about Marshmallow?!

Windows Phone OS

The third most popular operating system on our smartphones is Windows Phone from the computer company Microsoft.

Similar to your Windows 8 computer, Windows Phone 8 displays all of your phone’s apps and functions on one screen in neatly stacked boxes. These boxes -or live tiles- update all the time, which means you’re always up to date with your incoming messages and Facebook notifications.

windows phone 8

The next version of the OS is set to be Windows 10, and will work across every Microsoft device you own, so it’s basically going to be exactly the same no matter what you happen to be using – smartphone, tablet or PC.

App Stores

The main appeal of a smartphone is apps, and each and every operating system offers different phone apps in their app stores.

The Apple app store is full to the brim with applications, though it’s pretty much neck and neck with Google’s Android app store. Although it’s common knowledge that the Windows Marketplace houses fewer Windows Phone apps than its Android and iOS rivals, it still boasts all the big names, including Facebook, Netflix, Skype and even the infamous Flappy Bird!

Windows, iOS and Android phones

Because Windows Phone and iOS are both owned by smartphone manufacturers, you can only get these operating systems on specific handsets.

iOS can be found on the iPhone, meaning your choices include the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, iPhone 5s, 5c and the iPhone 4s. Take a look at these iPhone contracts for a slice of the iOS action!

apple iphone range

Windows Phone can be found on a few more handsets which includes the entire Nokia Lumia range of smartphones, which have since been renamed Microsoft Lumia.

windows phones

Android on the other hand is perfect for those who love choice! With the operating system available on a tonne of Android smartphones from the likes of Samsung, HTC, Sony, Huawei and LG, you can pick up an Android whatever your budget!

android phones

**Looking to buy a new smartphone this year? **Here’s our guide to everything you need to know about buying a new phone.