Android is the operating system dutifully running

first_imgAndroid is the operating system dutifully running behind the scenes on many of the most popular consumer mobile devices available today (you might very well be reading this on your personal Android device right now). But even as Android is well regarded for its massive global success in the consumer market, the mobile platform’s position is becoming increasingly strong for long-term success in industrial mobility.When considering Android’s prospects as the backbone to a mobile app that’s needed for industrial use, it should be understood how OS adoption in the consumer marketplace often foreshadows and directly contributes to triumph in the business world.A brief history of consumer impact on industrial mobility devicesThe consumer and industrial markets may appear to be separate, but in reality they are constantly borrowing from and influencing one another, with popular software or new capabilities perpetually arriving and spreading across the consumer/industrial divide. In the realm of industrial mobility devices, the beginning of this could be seen two decades ago with the rising popularity of consumer OS devices like the Pocket PC and PalmOS. Users familiar with these devices in their private lives led to those tools then storming the business world, utilizing custom drivers and libraries to add industrial functionality, such as barcode reading for efficient product deployment.For an example of industry influencing the consumer market, look at how wearable devices seem futuristic to the public, which is just becoming accustomed to exercise trackers and smart watches, among other applications. However, wearables have long been a part of industrial use, having been deployed in warehouse logistics since the 1990s. So, which OS will claim industrial mobility’s future?The broad success and acceptance of an OS in the consumer market is a powerful boon to that system’s value in the enterprise, which is why Android will start playing a larger role in this arena. It’s true that businesses have multiple platforms to consider; iOS commands a sizeable consumer market share, and Windows CE remains in use in much of today’s industrial equipment. However, if we’re looking into the future, iOS hovers at 20% market share (compared to Android’s 76.6% and rising). Windows CE is only set to be supported for four more years, a blink of an eye for the businesses reliant on the OS who must begin planning their transitions quickly. (It should be noted that Windows 10, while not yet released, is showing great potential in the enterprise space.)Developing industrial mobile apps for the dominant OS comes with a slew of advantages. Workers will often require less or no training because they are familiar with the UI/UX from using their personal devices. Consumer success increases technology vendor mindshare, as vendors know the technology and are able to make business-planning decisions based on a reliable platform. A widely used OS also grants access to programmer resources, tools and critical application support. Industrial workers and developers can leverage off-the-shelf “prosumer” app store applications and services that arise on a popular consumer OS. But perhaps the greatest appeal of a successful consumer OS for the enterprise is longevity. Android (and iOS) are certain to be available in coming years, while countless examples show how unsuccessful consumer platforms can no longer serve the enterprise because they simply do not survive the test of time – you may recall KIN (gone in four months), WP7 (24 months), or Bada (30 months).All these factors support the case for Android as a strong long-term choice for mobile apps built for industrial use. It’s also notable that Java, used to develop Android applications, is one of the most popular programming languages. Independent software vendors tend to develop for the platform with the largest installed base; in this case, that’s Android. Furthermore, the leveraging of Android as open-source software as a base for platforms such as those from Amazon or Xiaomi only broadens Android’s value for industrial use.Best practices for Android industrial mobility developmentSo you’ve decided to develop industrial apps with Android – how best to go about it? Android development actually offers more power and information to developers working with industrial devices than it does for consumer developers. When it comes to configuring the device, rebooting the device, performing time syncs, device lockdown, data capture or battery management, the same Android development APIs provide more detailed information and enable broader capabilities on industrial devices. These insightful details should be utilized to deliver more robust features for the enterprise, such as enterprise-class data capture for superior scanning performance (barcodes, etc), enterprise-grade security with lockdown at the peripheral and feature level, more resilient wireless connectivity, and more. A great positive of Android for industrial mobility is simply that Android is continually adding attractive new enterprise features.last_img

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