China software to rival Android, iOS

Updated: 2014-01-20 00:19

By Cheng Yingqi (China Daily)

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As smartphone users continue to debate the relative merits of Google Android and Apple iOS, a new operating system has entered the market, offering a Chinese-developed alternative to software of foreign origin.

The operating system, known as China Operating System, or COS, was developed by the Institute of Software at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, together with Shanghai Lian Tong Network Communication Technology Inc.

The system has a number of key selling points, its developers say, including applicability to a wide range of computer-based hardware, not just smartphones, and the claim that it fixes a range of existing programming bugs and errors.

They also point to COS as a product of Chinese origin.

"The release of COS aims to break the monopoly that foreign companies have on fundamental software, and to introduce an operating system with our own intellectual property rights," said Li Minshu, director of the institute.

By the end of the third quarter of 2013, Google's Android had captured 81 percent of the smartphone market worldwide, leaving 12.9 percent to Apple's iOS, according to media reports.

A report released in October by market researcher Kantar Worldpanel ComTech said Android held a 78.1 percent market share in China, iOS held 15.5 percent and Windows Phone held 3.5 percent.

Chen Feili, deputy general manager of Lian Tong Network Communication Technology, said the next steps in developing COS are to promote its use on a wider range of hardware and to develop more apps.

Wu Yanjun, an ISCAS researcher who led a team to develop the underlying system and generic framework of COS, said the new system differs from Android and iOS in three respects.

First, COS can be applied to a wide range of devices, including personal computers, smartphones, tablets and TV set-top boxes, whereas Android and iOS are mainly open to smartphones and tablets.

Second, COS was not designed to support various online application stores. This is a feature COS has in common with iOS, but not Android, which is compatible with various applications stores.

"We have an official software distribution center, just like Apple's app store, but our Application Programming Interfaces are open and the development platform is free," Wu said.

Third, COS has fixed many logical faults and vulnerabilities together with more than 100 other bugs in the Linux kernel and current open source software.

"With these vulnerabilities gone and with our security enhancement, it's hard for hackers to remotely control your computer or your phone," he said.

Xu Di, 26, a smartphone user, said her decision on whether to use COS depends on the hardware.

"The phone I'm now using runs on Blackberry's operating system, and my computer uses Apple's system. I have to change the hardware first if I want to use COS," Xu said.

"So the next time I buy a new phone or new computer, I'll consider the hardware and the system together."