The Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) industry has been dominated by Microsoft Windows operating systems Windows® CE and Windows® Embedded Handheld (Windows Mobile) for years. Given the inflexibility of customization coupled with the discontinuation of Window Mobile support, there’s been a shift in the AIDC industry, particularly the ruggedized equipment sector to the Android OS.
Deployment and Management
When making the switch to Android, the standard set up and deployment options allow companies comprehensive control over all applications and data. Android Enterprise is Google’s framework for mobility management on devices running Android OS. When paired with an Enterprise Mobile Management (EMM) platform, Android Enterprise gives enterprise IT teams a more consistent management experience across deployed Android. Some options to consider when looking at EMM's to roll out Android devices companywide are Ivanti, Airwatch and SOTI.
Aiming to meet the increasing demands of supply chain enterprises moving to Android, Ivanti just launched Avalanche 6.2, powered by Wavelink. Ivanti Avalanche supports multiple Android Smart Device Servers (SDSs) and enables the localized services to be employed while reducing strain on network bandwidth. This solution also features enhanced device restrictions on the latest versions of Android, including the ability to disable camera use, and blacklist/whitelist applications on KitKat forward versions of Android, as well as support for Zebra Mobility Extensions (Mx), and integration with Ivanti's Smart Device Remote Control. Additionally, the recent release of Velocity (ATTE) 2.0 focuses on enabling the most rapid Android device deployment possible with the capability to change the user language with no back-end custom coding.
Widely recognized as the global leader in EMM, AirWatch is designed as a company’s core platform, which means management of every device, OS, and deployment is controlled from a central console. Late 2017, VMware announced Airwatch support was available for Android Enterprise on all-purpose build devices – extending support to IT by offering a host of functionality to improve device management, security, and updates.
SOTI MobiControl boasts Android management capabilities to ensure deployed Android devices are secured, managed and supported, regardless of OS version or device manufacturer. With compatibility certification of devices from over 150 Android device manufacturers, the platform offers the ability to choose the Android devices that best fit their business. Whichever EMM you choose, it's best to work with an experienced partner to help vet the options based on your company's needs.
The trend for hackers and viruses to attack Android smartphones and devices in previous years had the team at Google working diligently to improve Android's security. The newly improved Android platform security keeps your devices, data, and apps safe through app sandboxing, exploit mitigation and device encryption. Google Play Protect actively scans each device around the clock, essentially always 'on' and learning to ensure you’ll always have the most up to date mobile security. Management APIs allow you to enforce policy controls across your fleet of devices.
Android offers a wide-range of management APIs that will allow Large-scale IT departments to prevent data leakage and enforce compliance. Admins can enforce network configurations and apply policies to protect corporate data. For those BYOD companies - there's also an option for IT to deploy a work profile to create an OS level separation between personal and company data.
Quicker Adoption Rates
An understated driver pushing organizations down the to Android path is directly correlated to the reduction in training time. An intuitively, familiar design often means once, in the hands of the users, the Android learning time is short. There’s substantial cost and people costs savings associated with the reduction in training time. Think of the busy retail seasons and the uptick in holiday temp employees. Given the popularity of the Android platform worldwide and the ability to customize based on usage and users, the temp workforce takes less time to ramp up and get working.
Microsoft has taken notice of the shift to rising in popularity of Android and iOS in the enterprise. In a recent interview, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella predicts that “At some point, everyone is going to have an average of six devices they use regularly” and is fully aware that the most of them won’t be running Windows. Given the current complexity of Windows computers connecting to Android or iOS devices – Microsoft intends on improving the experience when connecting to iOS and Android. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s a lot more useful to the average Windows user than trying to sell them a Windows-powered phone.
Preferred Physical Attributes
Over the past few years, there's been an increase in AIDC end-users desire for their ruggedized devices to have the same or similar user experience as consumer smartphones yet want to maintain their physical form factor. Not lost on the OEM's, there's been an increase in AIDC devices with an option to choose Android over Windows, for example. Companies satisfied with the ruggedness, ergonomic and physical attributes of their devices running on Windows Mobile have the option to keep their preferred form factor while moving onto the Android platform.
Some ruggedized mobile devices that are offered with both Windows / Android options include Honeywell’s CK75, CN75, CN51m, CT50, Dolphin 75ew; Bluebird’s EF500, EF500R, EF400 and SF55; Zebra’s MC9200 Series, TC70, TC75, ET50, ET55, MC65 and Datalogic’s Skorpio X4 – Just to name a few.
Internet of Things
As a refresher - The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of physical devices embedded with sensors which include network connectivity allowing objects to connect and exchange data. Each physical object is singular and connects within the existing Internet infrastructure to give unique updates.
As the world’s largest app platform – Android is a perfect fit to use within the IoT as it organizations can write specific programs based on their specific physical objects and the data to which they want to track, organize and monitor. The Android device's physical attributes lend itself to an ideal to IoT as they generally consume less power while offering continuous connectively improving real-time data transfer.