Rugged Mobile Computers are exactly what you might think… a handheld, battery-powered mobile device, with a small display and often times equipped with Wi-Fi and/or cellular radios, barcode scanners, and maybe a tactile keypad, all housed in a tough case with added features to protect it from drops, dust and water. These get used in manufacturing plants, warehouses, route delivery and anywhere the device might get subjected to a little (or a lot) more abuse than the average smart phone. They are an invaluable tool for thousands of organizations that need to track inventory and assets. For decades these devices were controlled by various Microsoft© operating systems such Pocket PC®, Windows CE®, or Windows Mobile®. But today times have changed and virtually every new rugged device being introduced to the industrial market, like handheld mobile computers, is running Android. Why you might ask? There are several reasons. For one, it’s free.
Free from licensing at least. Unlike the competitive offerings, Android can be installed on a rugged handheld mobile device without the burden of a license cost which will ultimately lower the investment cost to the buyer. Second, it is open source, meaning the code isn’t “locked”. Developers can use the Android code as a starting point and then make additions or enhancements to fit their specific applications. It gives them a lower-level control over the device and in the end can make their applications more efficient and give the user a better overall experience. Third, with Android there is no “forced obsolescence” like there is with many of the Windows® embedded operating systems, which will soon be off-the-market if they aren’t already.
“Android was conceived, designed, and optimized to run on mobile device platforms from day one”
But there is another important reason that makes Android the ideal operating system for a rugged handheld, one that sometimes gets overlooked. Android was always intended, from conception, to be a mobile operating system. Unlike Windows operating systems that were originally intended for desktops and then trimmed down and limited in order to run on mobile devices, Android was conceived, designed, and optimized to run on mobile device platforms from day one.
Consequently it is more efficient, more flexible, and will only grow in popularity as more and more software developers embrace it. New versions with added enhancements are released each year and there is no operating system more “developer friendly” than Android.
Considering all the benefits of being a mobile operating system from birth, no licensing costs, and open-source code accessible to developers, it’s no wonder that Android is on a fast track to dominating the rugged mobile computers space.