Apple and Google will soon have more than just each other to worry about in the race to provide the software for smart phones and tablets. Later this month, Intel will announce that its MeeGo operating system is ready to run devices including touch screen tablets and phones. MeeGo is a Linux-based, open source project created by merging Intel’s Moblin and Nokia’s Maemo operating system projects early this year.
Devices running MeeGo are likely to start appearing in early 2011. Netbooks are expected to appear first, then tablets and phones. MeeGo is different from Apple’s iOS platform for the iPhone, iPod and iPad or Google’s Android operating system, says Intel’s head of open source strategy, Ram Peddibhotla, because it is intended to seamlessly link multiple devices. “MeeGo is ground-up designed and targeted at multiple devices–netbooks, phones, and TV devices,” he says, describing a world in which a consumer could own multiple devices running the new operating system. “This allows these devices to work together more simply,” he says. “For example, with a flick of your finger, transferring a movie or any other content onto another device.”
Intel showed off this kind of functionality on some MeeGo-powered gadgets at its recent developers’ event in San Francisco. One demo showed how a movie being streamed to a MeeGo netbook could be transferred to a TV set top box or even a phone; another showed how a netbook or tablet running MeeGo could be used in place of a TV remote to control a MeeGo-powered TV device.
Apple has also shown an interest in having its devices work together, and in making it possible to use an iPhone to control Apple TV or to stream video from an iPad or computer to Apple TV.
But Peddibhotla maintains that only an operating system built for multiple platforms from the start can really blur the lines between them. “We offer the same core programming interfaces across all devices and that creates a lot of opportunity for developers and manufacturers–more than if you try and push a certain operating system in a new direction.”
That last comment may be a dig at Google’s Android operating system for smart phones. Manufacturers have found it difficult to use that system to make tablets capable of taking on the iPad.