Mobile computers are a mainstay of efficient business operations, however, choosing the right devices can be complicated. There are plenty of factors to consider, one of the major points being the operating system. While general-use consumer computers run mainly on iOS or Windows, the industrial device market is shifting toward Android. Below, we’ll take a look at the main features of both operating systems and determine which platform is best for mobile computers.
Android is a mobile operating system owned by Google Inc and based on a modified version of Linux kernel software. It uses Java, C++ and C languages, primarily meant for touchscreen devices. A common misconception is that Android is solely a mobile platform. Indeed, Android is commonly found on phones, but let’s not forget it’s basically Linux in a different design. Android is free software that offers a lot of flexibility of application. In fact, this operating system works on tablets, computers, and other devices just as well.
As Android is related to Linux, it’s an open-source system. Anyone can make modifications to the software, changing the user interface, adding and removing apps and general functions, etc. For instance, even though Samsung and Sony phones both run on Android, they look and work completely differently. Every hardware manufacturer offers a unique Android interface with different icons, maps, themes, and other elements. For rugged handheld computers used in industrial settings, this means more freedom of professional tool development. It’s much easier to create a barcode scanning app for Android than for any other platform. In other words, Android offers a wide selection of tools to help with your daily workflow, and it’s rapidly expanding.
The customization options aren’t limited to the look of your software either. Android provides you full freedom in terms of settings, especially privacy. You can choose to restrict access to any of your data for all or specific apps. Data will not get stored, collected, or shared in any way. And that’s a common problem with other operating systems nowadays. If everything is enabled by default, users may not even think about reviewing the privacy settings while their data is constantly collected.
Your employees are unlikely to make changes to the computer operating system. Therefore, let’s take a look at what Android has to offer right out of the box. The system is seamlessly integrated with all Google apps. You can install new apps from Google Play Store, smoothly run Google Business applications, and more. Android devices are also easier to sync with cloud storage.
Android issues update quite often. Developers constantly solve small issues that help to keep the system effective and fast. Possibly, most end users don’t even notice all the bugs that each update fixes. This way, Android avoids serious problems that can significantly affect users. Furthermore, you can select which updates you wish to install and review what exactly they will implement beforehand. The platform doesn’t force anything on you, and that’s the best thing about it. Android devices are also less vulnerable to hacker attacks and viruses. Although a virus can get into the system, the system doesn’t execute it unless the administrator provides access. This applies as long as you don’t try to overwrite the code yourself. Once you open the system, it loses a large portion of its security.
Finally, Android is lightweight, just like its foundation, Linux. In the case of an operating system, “lightweight” stands for system requirements. The platform leaves much less of a memory footprint and requires less disk space. In fact, Linux may require as little as 128MB of RAM memory, while Android – about 1GB. That still isn’t much compared to the amount of memory used by Windows or macOS. Consequently, devices on Linux or Android generally perform better compared to those running on other platforms when the hardware is equal. Of course, these are rough figures that may be affected by plenty of factors, but that doesn’t revoke the advantage.
Nothing in the world is perfect, and neither is Android. The main drawback is that Android requires users to be a bit more tech-savvy. That isn’t surprising, as Linux is widely considered a platform for developers. Android users need to choose all the settings and keep track of updates manually. It’s also crucial to understand which apps are safe to use and which aren’t. Publishing an app to Google Play is simple, and sometimes, people with malicious intentions may use that to get access to your data. As mentioned above, Android is a safe platform – but only until you provide the necessary permissions to the wrong people.
Windows is an operating system by Microsoft developed specifically for computers back in 1985. Since then a lot has changed, and now many tablets and smartphones utilize Windows. Perhaps, the absolute majority of technology users are somehow familiar with this system. Windows is a very consistent platform, as every new version is quite similar to the previous one.
Windows is a closed platform. Technically, Windows 8 is still open-source on the standard Intel x86 edition, but newer versions used on modern devices don’t allow any amendments. No developer can change the user interface or create a pre-installed app without Microsoft’s permission. Users are free to install any software they like, though. Furthermore, the range of available software is impressive due to Windows dominance on the PC market. As pre-installed Microsoft Office apps are widely used in professional environments across the globe, software made for Windows is generally high quality but often comes with a cost. Windows RT, a mobile operating system used in Windows Surface devices and Windows phones, has more limitations. It allows using only Microsoft-developed apps with rare exceptions. However, very few mobile computers use this platform.
Windows prefer to work on major updates instead of issuing smaller ones regularly. At first glance, this may seem an advantage, as constant update notifications may become annoying. In practice, though, users may have to wait for a long time for significant bugs to get fixed. This affects work efficiency. When Windows release an update, users have no option to ignore it. While you can delay the update for some time, you can’t decline it entirely.
There’s also no easy way to find out what exactly was fixed in the update. Users have to search for this information manually, and a lot of them are likely to skip this step. Privacy isn’t the strongest side of Windows, either. Although you can change privacy settings, the default settings enable everything. In some cases, the platform doesn’t explicitly ask for your permission to implement changes or collect your information. In other words, Windows has more control over your data than you may think.
Windows is a powerful platform. It runs nearly any software smoothly as long as the hardware is capable of handling it. The tricky part is, Windows on its own uses 2-4GB of the device’s RAM memory. Simply put, if your Windows device features 8GB of RAM, you only get 4-6GB left to use. Considering that a couple of browser tabs may take another 4-6GB, you’re left with a slowed-down device that can’t handle basic operations. As a result, Windows devices require more advanced hardware to handle the platform along with all the installed software as opposed to more lightweight platforms like Linux. Users often have to choose between performance and affordable price.
The main drawback of Windows is the security. It’s the most frequently assaulted by hacker platforms. This may be done via a network, infectious programs, and plenty of other methods. One of the reasons for this is the prevalence of Windows PCs over any other.
But another, more concerning reason is the number of bugs that don’t get fixed soon enough. In other words, the lack of updates provides hackers with time to find a way to break into the system. Thus, storing your sensitive company data on a Windows device without proper security software may be a bad idea. Windows is also vulnerable to viruses for the very same reasons. Plus, users receive administrator privileges by default. While this makes downloading new software from the Internet and some other basic tasks easier, these actions may also open the door for viruses. It’s fairly easy to give the wrong administrator permissions if you aren’t aware of what you are doing.
What’s the Difference?
Now that you know the main features of each platform, let’s break down the differences to determine which is the best for mobile computers:
Here, the leader is Android. It’s an open-source system developed on Linux, which speaks for itself. Both the developers and the users get full freedom to make changes. There are thousands of available themes that can change the appearance of your device beyond recognition. Every hardware company can tailor Android’s look to fit their brand identity. Open source also means significantly more available apps due to easier access to the code and lack of publishing restrictions.
Android requires at least twice less RAM memory than Windows. RAM determines how many operations a device can perform simultaneously. Thus, the same device with 8GB of RAM will run much smoother on Android than on Windows. For a working computer, that’s a serious point to consider.
On one hand, Android is based on Linux, which is the most secure operating system currently in existence. That doesn’t include platforms designed solely for developers. But Android is still slightly different from its older brother. Google Play doesn’t monitor the quality of software that well, and it’s fairly easy to install a malicious app. With Windows, the situation is even worse. It’s targeted by hackers due to its prevalence above other platforms and is vulnerable to viruses due to lack of updates. Overall, both platforms are safe if you stay aware, don’t visit unsafe sites, and use protective software. But with Windows, you have a slightly higher chance of getting your data compromised.
Android provides you more explicit information about what app permissions are and allows you to easily manage them. Windows shares less information in terms of explaining when and how they collect your data, though you still have control over most of it.
Software availability and pre-installed apps
It’s a tie. As an open-source platform, Android offers thousands of apps for any purpose. Google Play is a highly convenient store that gathers all apps in one place. Microsoft, on the other hand, monitors the quality of available apps in the official store much better. Chances of getting a virus from an official Windows app equal zero. However, the number of official apps can’t be compared to that of Android. Third-party software has to be found on the web, which involves security risks. Windows apps are also more often paid for. As for the pre-installed software, both platforms have a great selection to offer as Google and Microsoft are well-established enterprise-level companies that deliver high-quality, advanced products. Since both have great apps for professional use, it’s really a matter of personal preference.
Android is the leader yet again. Although some users prefer less frequent updates, they help to keep the system safe and avoid major bugs. Furthermore, Android gives transparent information about the features that get fixed in every update and allows users to decline them.
Overall, Android comes up as a clear winner. It’s therefore no wonder that the platform has taken over the mobile computer market. Already in 2016, 37% of rugged devices used in warehousing were running on Android, as found by VDC research. Today, this number is significantly higher. Taking into account the above-mentioned factors, it’s understandable that trusted companies as Sonim and Honeywell choose Android over Windows.
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