30 September 2020
between Windows and Android for dominance in the warehouse appears to be coming
to a close with Microsoft’s decision to end support for mobile devices that use
their software by 2022.
Microsoft’s “slow sunset” mean an automatic win for Android? TouchStar’s Jon
Hall looks at some of the most frequently asked questions to offer an
understanding of OS choice in a warehouse environment.
If you were advising a warehouse
operator on which OS offers the best support, what would you say?
TouchStar, we have moved to Android as it’s proving to be the most nimble,
flexible, and adaptable OS. We’re also seeing more applications for warehouse
use are being released specifically for rugged Android devices with support
focused on those deployments.
provide support, Microsoft has stopped developing Windows CE and will only
provide critical updates such as security before pulling the plug in 2022.
still remains a choice, and with the current terminals that TouchStar offers
with Windows CE, we offer full support for the next three years.
Which OS is the easiest to learn and
is the most common operating system in use today, so it’s highly likely that
staff will be familiar with the OS and able to understand how to use a device
with minimal training.
to Gartner’s most recent figures, Android is dominant globally and counted for
88% of worldwide smartphone sales in Q2 2018.
It’s true that iOS has more of a foothold in the UK’s consumer market, but even
Kantar’s most recent figures show Android ahead of the pack with over 65% of
In a warehouse setting I’d expect those figures to be even higher.
At TouchStar we also make sure that
the applications we create are ‘Android-style’ to give operators a familiar user
experience and recognise how applications will work organically.
What about applications? Which OS
provides best compatibility?
JH: Because we know that Windows CE is
winding down, the race is on to migrate applications to Android as quickly as possible.
This is a costly and time-consuming exercise; therefore, it is critical for
companies to ensure that their applications are compatible with the modern OS
platforms available on the market.
Application development companies are
using tools that allow them to write applications once but then deploy to both
Android and iOS, meaning they have a common tool to enable development for both
– which is great for applications where bring your own device (BYOD) is common
such as those with a more customer facing or delivery focus. But in the
warehouse sector, going forward, having applications that run on Android is
That covers applications, but what
about compatibility with other devices?
JH: Compatibility is key. For
example, we’ve launched a pair of devices – one for the forklift truck and
another handheld – that offer complete compatibility and a familiar user
experience. This means operators can easily switch between devices across the
warehouse without needing to learn complicated new systems.
All warehouses face unique challenges that require customisable
solutions and flexibility. Which OS is best placed to deliver this?
JH: The Android OS is highly
customisable and offers a real step forward over Windows CE by allowing us to
include specific features and integrate other devices that are specific to the
needs of warehouse and logistics operators such as; barcode scanners, special
keyboards, camera, batteries and so on.
The flexibility of Android allows us
to optimise our platform specially for the warehouse industry, whether that’s
high-speed scanning, extending battery life, maximising shift times, extending Wi-Fi
coverage, improving roaming and using specialised connectivity software for
back office systems.
Does OS choice affect battery
gives us the control that enables us to optimise battery consumption.
Automating the control of the device backlight to suit current lighting
conditions is just one of the many ways that enables us to ensure units
maintain power throughout a full shift.
control over these aspects allows us to ensure that battery consumption is minimised,
and no unnecessary features are draining the battery.
In a warehouse environment it’s
crucial to have reliable and stable devices. How does OS choice help?
TouchStar we don’t rush into new OS updates as our priority is reliability and
stability of the product. Once we feel that an update is working as expected,
then we will move to implement that OS.
said, with so many engineers around the world working on Android developments, who
are continually testing and refining, the development of a stable OS is
Is Android only for
JH: No! The
good thing about Android is that it is an open source operating system without
the limitations imposed on developers by Microsoft Windows CE. With Android we
have all options from the full Android OS experience available to us, so we can
build solutions that offer what we know the users in the warehouse sector
What are the pitfalls of not moving
to Android before 2022?
would be extremely limited in the applications they could choose. Most of the
software houses that write applications will stop developing for Windows –
everyone is now focusing on the future, which for anyone in the warehouse
sector is Android.
opinion, anyone who currently uses Windows CE applications should consider
moving to Android before Microsoft withdraws support completely. Technology is
developing rapidly, but you will not see the benefits from new systems and
processes if you’re reliant on an unsupported OS. New applications will be
necessary to make the most of the latest technology, and those applications
will undoubtedly be on Android.