This past Labor Day weekend reminded me how prevalent iOS and Android phones and tablets have become. They have essentially woven themselves into the fabric of our everyday lives. During the holiday weekend, I watched my mother, aunt, son, daughter and wife all paying incredible attention to their devices. There is no escaping the versatility of these products. It is easy to understand how Direct Store Delivery suppliers and operators have gravitated to these familiar tools. The big question is: Which OS do I choose? Let’s spend some time exploring this problem.
Software consideration can help with the decision.
When deciding between Android or iOS, you should be aware of how it will impact your software options (and vice versa). It’s critical that your hardware and software work well together. The right software can and will insulate you from hardware challenges in the future.
Consider a vendor that offers cross platform capabilities. Well respected vendors such as High Jump and Versatile provide DSD solutions that work with iOS and Android to preserve your options should your hardware needs change down the road. Make sure they either (1) specialize in mobility software (not just an add-on to a prior product) or (2) have a well-established track-record in cross-platform mobile apps. iOS, Android & Windows are very different - adopting a solution that is cross-platform from the outset gives you the option to change hardware and/or OS later if desired; when it comes to mobility, future-proofing is extremely important. These vendors are far more likely to adapt to ongoing changes in the mobility paradigm quickly (and at less cost to you).
Android versus iOS. Important considerations.
Android is highly fragmented and plagued with manufacturer-specific modifications that generally create more problems than they solve. Android devices often run on outdated versions of Android and can be slow to receive updates (especially ruggedized devices). Additionally, manufacturers are only recently moving to Android and more experience is needed. Therefore, it’s crucial that you carefully evaluate each Android option and test your planned software on each specific device before making a purchase. Most manufacturers and resellers will gladly loan out devices to help win your business; be sure to ask your hardware vendor to loan you the devices they are recommending so you can thoroughly test them.
While iOS suffers less fragmentation or manufacturer-specific modification problems, it isn’t without fault. iOS does offer greater stability and consistency, but also creates some serious concerns. Most critically, iOS updates can break mission critical software; even after an app is updated to resolve the issue, the update must still go through Apple’s App Store approval process - compounding the delays in getting mission critical software back online! Moreover, there are fewer hardware options and the rigorous certification requirements for peripherals can stifle the development of third party adapters. In addition, updates can interfere with such adapters, requiring additional effort to resolve (and an even lengthier approval process).
Finally… Android and iOS are not necessarily enterprise-centric. Even many Windows offerings lack actual enterprise-class functionality (Microsoft’s marketing rhetoric can be misleading in this regard), such as limited .NET support, forced updates that interfere with users, etc. The lack of enterprise focus can undermine usability and the security of your sensitive company data. It is crucial that your software vendor has extensive experience with implementing enterprise-class data management, robust security and authentication procedures, military-grade encryption, and other enterprise-specific requirements not provided by the mobile OS. This is one of the most routinely overlooked and underestimated aspects of modern mobility software projects.
So… Any closer to a decision? Last week we discussed Consumer versus Rugged Devices, and today is it iOS or Android? Let us know what you chose. Help other manufacturers and operators with their decision making process. Tell us your story.