We’ve been looking at three new mobile operating systems that have been a bit under the radar: CyanogenMod, Android Wear and Firefox OS. If they’re new to you, here’s a quick summary of what they’re all about.

What’s an operating system (OS)?

The operating system is the software that makes a smartphone or computer work. It also lets you control it. Whenever you navigate through the menus of your phone to make a call, you’re using the operating system.

Two of the most well-known operating systems are iOS in iPhones and iPads, and Android, the operating systems that powers phones like the Samsung Galaxy S5. You can find out more about the more popular operating systems in our Operating Systems overview article.

CyanogenMod Logo


This is an OS that is a customisation of Android. Much like how you can customise a car with a new exhaust or tinted windows, Android lets software developers change its code for different looks and features. CyanogenMod is probably the most popular customised Android OS. It’s designed for lots of phones that originally ran Android, but is for more advanced smartphone users. The OnePlus One comes with the software preinstalled.

CyanogenMod is a great operating system because it allows for more customisation than standard Android. It includes security enhancements, battery life improvements and a whole lot more. This is because many software developers work on CyanogenMod to try and make it better than the Android software it’s based on.

Android Wear Logo

Android Wear

This is another operating system that’s based on Android. Instead of being customised by a private software developer, Google itself made Android Wear. It was built specifically for wearable devices, such as smartwatches.

Android Wear is probably the easiest to use and best software for smartwatches. It supports voice control, and has a design and layout that’ll be perfect for the smaller screen of a smartwatch. You’ll find Android Wear on smartwatches like the LG G Watch, the Samsung Gear Live and the Moto 360.

Firefox OS Logo

Firefox OS

This comes from the makers of the Firefox web browser which you might have used on your computer. Firefox is designed for cheaper, budget smartphones, and isn’t full of super advanced features.

The main feature of Firefox OS though is that you won’t have to install apps, they stream over the internet straight from the web browser on your phone. It means that the phones can be very cheap and low powered, but still run large apps. It also means they won’t waste memory on apps.