Hint: it is not Windows. No, it isn’t Macintosh either.
According to an article by Dieter Bohn in The Verge web site, the Android operating system is installed on more computers, laptops, tablet computers, and smartphones than any other operating system in the world. In fact, it isn’t just slightly more popular than some other operating system; it is by far the dominant operating system of today.
The soaring popularity of Android is due in large part to its main platform: the smartphone. The number of smartphones sold today outnumbers sales of computers running Windows, Macintosh, and Linux. In fact, many young consumers and also people in third world countries never purchase a desktop or laptop computer; they simply use a smartphone or tablet for all their needs. And Android is installed on about 85% of all the smartphones in the world.
NOTE: For reference, the 85% claim comes from IDC’s study that is published at https://www.idc.com/promo/smartphone-market-share/os.
Android is also installed on many tablet computers and a few laptop computers. For examples of Android on a laptop, see my earlier articles:
Hands on with the $149.99 Insignia™ NS-P11A8100 11.6-inch Tablet with Removable Keyboard at https://wp.me/p5Z3-5nC
Here is the Android Tablet that Also Can Be Used as a Desktop Computer at https://wp.me/p5Z3-6c4
I didn’t write this but you also might want to see 3 Ways You Can Use Android as a Desktop Operating System at: https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/use-android-desktop-operating-system/.
If you consider a smartphone to be a computer (and I certainly do as my present smartphone is far more powerful than the desktop computer I owned some years ago), Android is now more popular than Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and Apple’s iOS (iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch operating system) COMBINED!
As a genealogist, I can believe these statistics. For instance, how many brand-new genealogy programs for Windows or Macintosh systems have been released in the past year? How about in the past five years? I am not referring to upgrades of existing programs. Instead, I am trying to recall any brand-new, full-featured genealogy program released in the past year or two for Windows or Macintosh. I believe the number is zero.
On the flip side, look at the number of genealogy apps available for Android systems, as listed in the Google Play Store at https://play.google.com/store/search?q=genealogy&c=apps.
I found 245 apps listed when I looked at that page, and the number is growing every week. To be sure, not all of apps listed are true genealogy apps; but, even if we ignore the Android apps designed for note taking or for religious or history topics or for other non-genealogy purposes, there are still a lot of genealogy apps available today. Even better, most of them are available free of charge!
If we add in the genealogy apps for Apple iPhone and iPad systems, it seems that the majority of software developers are creating genealogy apps for mobile devices, not for traditional desktop and laptop systems. I could also suggest we should add in the various genealogy apps that run in the cloud in order to get a true picture of today’s genealogy software developments.
As the handheld devices continue to become even more popular and more powerful, the capabilities of the available genealogy apps are going to mushroom. We already have Android apps that are more powerful than the MS-DOS genealogy programs that genealogists used in the 1990s. (Do you remember the original Family Tree Maker for MS-DOS produced by Banner Blue? It couldn’t even record text notes as source citations!) It seems certain that genealogy apps for the future’s powerful mobile devices will include even more capabilities than today’s Windows or Macintosh programs.
Of course, all this is nothing new. For the past several years, the majority of software development has been either in mobile apps or in cloud-based applications. Genealogists tend to be rather conservative and perhaps are a bit late in the move to the cloud and to mobile devices, but we are still following the trends of the industry.
Will your next genealogy program run on your mobile device(s) or in your secure area in the cloud? For most of the genealogists, I suspect the answer is “Yes.”
My belief is that we are already seeing a blend of these two technologies: data will be safely stored in the cloud but be retrieved, analyzed, updated, displayed, printed, and merged on whatever device is available, be it mobile or desktop. The operating systems involved will be unimportant. All that future genealogists will care about is that these systems work together and meet our needs.