Five Reasons Why Companies are Choosing Android
More than just the “default” now that Microsoft has sunset Windows CE, Android is emerging as a versatile, reliable OS for warehouses, logistics operations, and transportation companies worldwide. Here’s what I’ve learned about the benefits of Android for enterprise organizations from my colleague, Steven Sikorski, Product Manager for TOUGHBOOK Android devices.
In an era where getting products to the right place as quickly as possible has become table stakes, having the right warehouse technology in place can mean the difference between a successful logistics operation and a struggling one.
Right now, warehouse, logistics, and transportation organizations that have relied on the Microsoft Windows Embedded CE and Windows Mobile operating systems – used in a wide range of mobile devices—are at a crossroads, deciding whether to continue using their older devices based on an operating system without the support of its maker, or to switch to new devices.
Most organizations will opt for the latter, knowing that the other choice is just too risky. However, there are other reasons to make the switch to new Android OS-based devices. From the plethora of devices to the added levels of security to the Android operating systems’ user-friendly features, Android stands on its own when supporting today’s fast-paced fulfillment and distribution operations.
Android: It’s Not Just the “Fall Back” Option
Windows Embedded CE 6.0 and Windows Embedded 8.1 Handheld have already reached end-of-support, and final support for Windows Embedded 6.5 goes next (on January 14, 2020). At that point, Microsoft will stop issuing security patches and software updates, which means that warehouse, logistics or any businesses using mobile devices running on these operating systems will be open to possible vulnerabilities. This puts companies that rely on unsupported operating systems on their mobile device to process orders, manage inventory, confirm deliveries, and other functions- in a challenging position.
The good news is that while Microsoft has been scaling back its support of these mobile operating systems, Android has been strengthening its operating system with additional enterprise-friendly capabilities (e.g., improved mobile device and enterprise mobility management [MDM/EMM]), more application programming interfaces [APIs] and enhanced security features), as well as more verification programs for OEMs to fulfil, to better meet the needs of today’s logistics and fulfillment operations.
In doing so, Android has positioned itself as an OS of choice for warehouse and logistics operations—and not just the “fall back” for companies that are now being forced to replace their Windows-based technology and systems. “We’re seeing more warehouses make the move to Android, and not just because they have to. There are many other reasons why they’re migrating to Android to replace their existing mobile operating systems,” says Steven Sikorski, product manager for Panasonic TOUGHBOOK rugged handhelds-based on Android.
5 Reasons Companies are Choosing Android
Here’s why more warehouse, logistics, and transportation organizations are choosing Android and how the OS supports an efficient, streamlined supply chain:
- Lower implementation and support costs. In the past, the warehouse that relied on a combination of handhelds and forklift-mounted devices that probably used Windows CE handhelds running .NET applications plus forklift mounted computers enabled with full-blown PC versions of Windows.NET. This created problems at the device management level, where the mobility team oversaw the handhelds and another IT team (i.e., one focused on desktop and laptop support) managed the forklifts’ onboard computers. With Android, the same mobility IT team can handle both aspects of the warehouse technology, and with fewer, PC-based constraints. OEMs that want to sell in the enterprise market can have their device undergo vertification for “Android Enterprise” and Android Enterprise Recommended.” “In most cases, the desktop IT organization isn’t as agile as the mobility IT team and not as close to the mobility use case,” says Sikorski. “As a result, moving to Android is often less expensive from both a support and an implementation perspective.”
- Higher CPU speeds. Speed of delivery is paramount for all warehouse and supply chain fulfillment organizations right now, which means the technology that drives them must be equally as fast…if not more so. According to Sikorski, the CPU speeds on today’s Android devices far exceed what any older, Windows CE-based devices can offer. “In terms of capability and power,” he says, “these new devices are wrapped around the robust Android OS, which offers much higher CPU speeds.”
- Quick patches and security updates. Over the last few years, Android has been improving its OS security and providing regular security updates and patches. This has made Android an option for enterprises in general and the warehouse and logistics environment, says Sikorski, who adds that most of the Android OS security patches come out more quickly than those of other operating systems. “Developers are technically testing the Android OS daily, which means any flaws or security issues are detected quickly,” says Sikorski, who adds that vendors like Panasonic must react quickly when the subsequent patches are sent out. “The plethora of devices creates enough ‘test’ conditions so that almost nothing really can slip through the cracks.” And for the strongest in security: enterprise-provided devices can leverage the Android Enterprise platform residing in the cloud. The devices are recognized as being part of an organization’s hardware, can be locked-down or set to only run the identified owner’s set of applications and configuration.”
- More devices to choose from. Instead of just a handful of Windows devices to choose from, Android OS users have literally hundreds of options at their fingertips. This can be a double-edged sword for warehouse managers that now have to choose from this broader range of options. “There are a lot of different price points, ruggedized capabilities, battery life, and wireless connectivity options to consider,” says Sonia Arnold, Panasonic’s ProServices account manager for enterprise customers. “Most companies are interested in battery life and wireless capabilities, she adds, both of which Panasonic devices excel at in the warehouse and logistics environment.”
- Millions of mobile apps. Because it’s an open-source platform with a global application store access, the Android OS supports millions of different business applications that can be used on the warehouse floor, on the loading dock, and across transportation networks. Where Windows CE devices were limited in this area, Sikorski says that the Android OS supports applications with robust capabilities across a wide range of devices. Plus, the applications (though the Google Play store) are regularly updated by developers who are looking to improve and enhance performance. “As a result,” says Sikorski, “there’s not much one does with Windows CE that you can’t do in Android.”
Making a Seamless Transition
The idea of transitioning one or more warehouses over to an entirely new operating system may sound daunting, but the combination of the Windows CE end of life (EOL) plus the benefits that the Android OS presents is driving more organizations to make the switch.
Panasonic can help ease any fears about transitioning to an Android-based fleet of devices by providing the devices, Android operating system utilities, and software experts, along with our ProServices (i.e. imaging and device deployment). And to help with updating legacy or proprietary enterprise software, companies can take advantage of our Rapid Application Development platform tool. Using it, the Panasonic ProServices team can rapidly develop a platform-agnostic application based on your legacy software so you can quickly leverage the versatility of mobile Android handhelds and tablets in the warehouse and supply chain functions without disrupting back-office operations.
To sum it all up, here’s how Steve put it: “Panasonic not only offers rapid configuration and implementation tools, but it also provides unmatched support capabilities that include very fast device repair turnaround times,” says Sikorski. “We’re available to be on-site to enable the implementation process, and then we’re here for our customers through the long life of their rugged TOUGHBOOK devices.”
For more information or help with planning a move to Android-based mobile devices contact our ProServices Team, via email email@example.com or 1-888-245-6344.