Why Computers and Smartphones Need an Operating System: 5 Key Tasks It Addresses

In this article, we discuss the essential tasks that specific operating systems (iOS or Android, macOS, Windows or Linux) take on when installed on a computer or any mobile device.

Mykola (Nick) Hrytsaienko
October 25, 2023

Many consider purchasing a new computer or mobile device solely from the perspective of the hardware it uses. This is a significant oversight, as the software, in the form of the operating system (OS), plays an equally, if not more, important role today.

Imagine a computer or smartphone as a multi-story building. It houses a myriad of separate apartments where various applications live: browsers, word processors, games. For these to function efficiently, a comfortable management environment is required. This role is played by the operating system.

1. Mediator between hardware and software. If all applications could interact with chips, sensors, and the screen independently without external assistance, they would occupy too much storage space and be overly complex to create.

This is why the operating system simplifies this task and acts as a mediator. It takes the programming language developers use to write applications and interprets it into machine code, which the hardware understands. Read more about this in this article.

2. Resource Management. When several applications run simultaneously, there's inevitable competition for hardware resources. The operating system allocates them in such a way that the device owner achieves maximum comfort from its intensive use.

3. Security. In today's world, security and privacy play a pivotal role in using any device without exception. The operating system acts as a guard, preventing hacking attempts and ensuring that malicious software does not infiltrate the device.

4. User Interface. The most noticeable part of any operating system for everyday users today is its interface (UI), which aids in harnessing the device's key capabilities. This includes intuitive menus, colourful icons, and informative widgets.

The operating system even allows one to leverage various hardware features of a particular device, like the notch for front-facing cameras and other sensors on the iPhone 15 Pro's screen | Source: CNET

Indeed, based on the ease of using the interface, everyday users choose modern devices. Be it an iPhone running on iOS, a smartphone managed by the Android operating system, or computers on macOS, Windows, or even Linux. UI/UX makes technology accessible and comprehensible to the masses.

By the way, perfecting UI/UX design is one of the key stages in software development. That's why we usually pay considerable attention to this process when working with a wide range of clients. To learn about how we develop software, visit the Case Studies section of our website at this link.

5. File Management. A crucial part of the operating system is also the management of data stored on the device. Every time you save photos or documents, it's the OS that ensures the information is correctly placed and easily accessible in the future.

In essence, the operating system represents the foundation upon which the entire digital experience of the owner is built. Without it, modern devices would be less efficient in the hands of ordinary users, less convenient, and not as secure. The OS makes technology available to everyone.

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