There are many types of tablet computer software in hundreds of categories, but the main differences among them are found in a tablet computer's operating system. As of 2011, there are three main operating systems for tablets. They are the Apple® iOS®, the Google™ Android™ and Microsoft® Windows®.
Apple® software is the most popular, based on sales, and is widely considered the most advanced and easy to use. Apple® offers more applications than any other maker of tablet computer software. Apple® detractors, however, don’t like the lack of compatibility with many Internet websites or the closed system, which only allows integration with its proprietary components and software.
Android™ tablet computer software is gaining popularity and the number of applications available is increasing rapidly. Android™ applications are generally more compatible with certain websites, such as those that employ Adobe® Flash® software, than their Apple® counterparts. Android™ does not offer nearly as many applications as Apple® for tablet computers, though that is changing as more consumers purchase Android™-based tablets. Many of the applications that are designed for Android™-based cell phones are compatible with tablets; however, functionality is often lost when installed on a tablet. For example, an Android™-based phone application may appear small on a tablet computer and not fill out the entire tablet screen.
Windows® lags behind both of the other major players in tablet computer software in terms of applications available. Proponents of Windows®-based tablets prefer that their tablet computer software be compatible with their personal computers to allow easier file sharing. Windows® software is used by a majority of businesses in the world, so many businesses choose to use Windows®-based tablets.
Aside from different operating systems, there also are many different functions of tablet computer software. People use tablet applications to store, organize and play music and videos; navigate travel; communicate via email and messaging services; and surf the Internet. One of the most popular types of tablet computer software is game applications.
Nearly every tablet computer comes pre-loaded with several basic software applications. These usually include a browser, media player and email client. These are normally proprietary programs owned by the company that owns the tablet’s operating system.
There are, however, thousands of other tablet computer software applications that are written and owned by outside vendors. These are referred to as third-party applications. Third-party applications can take the place of proprietary programs, make the tablet’s applications more compatible with other operating systems or offer a completely new program that is not provided by the tablet's maker.