Android has come a long way from being the hipster, contrarian alternative to iOS. Since Google launched the mobile operating system (OS) in 2008, it’s moved from just another OS to the most popular OS in the world. Nowadays, mobile devices that utilize the Android OS account for more than 70% of the global pool of smartphones.
Android isn’t just a powerful OS for mobile devices, though. Its potential is much greater than that. In fact, Android is optimized for any touchscreen device, not just phones or tablets. This optimization makes it a good choice for self-service kiosks, wayfinders, point-of-sale (POS) terminals, or many other enterprise applications.
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From Humble Beginnings to Global Domination
Google’s Android platform wasn’t late to the mobile game, per se. Both it and Apple unveiled their respective mobile operating systems in 2007, but as far back as 2010, Android-based phones only made up 4% of the global market, with Apple at a healthy 14% (the leader back then was Symbian – ever heard of them? I didn’t think so). So how has it made the leap to such global domination? It’s simple – anyone can use it.
Developers and device manufacturers love Android because it’s free and open-source. This means phone makers don’t have to pay Google for the system’s underlying code – they can just design their device around it and modify the code as they see fit. The result is a more flexible, dynamic OS that can accommodate a more comprehensive array of tasks on a broad set of products and screen sizes, ranging from handheld devices to 65-inch screens.
Apple’s iOS, the only real contender for mobile operating systems, doesn’t allow that type of modification – the code is a closely held secret and, most importantly, proprietary. You can only use iOS on Apple devices. But open-source and free-to-access do not mean Android suffers from poor security, though.
Security on Android isn’t only on par with Apple; some might argue that it’s even better – especially for enterprise applications. This security is especially important in customer-service kiosks and applications, particularly POS. People trust their personal data to a self-service kiosk in the middle of an airport or shopping mall, and they need to know that the underlying code is up to the challenge. Thanks to years of continuous hard work, Android is.
Android employs powerful encryption, and its flexibility allows developers and enterprise users to lock down its interfaces so additional apps can’t be added. This also means that installed apps can’t access each other. The result is a true single-use device that does one thing and is extremely difficult for malicious actors to bypass (for instance, someone downloading outside apps onto a store’s cash register). Android’s security features are so robust that it’s quickly being adopted by the Department of Defense for use by warfighters on the front lines, where security is paramount. A close second to agencies like the DoD, though, and another strong point in Android’s favor for touchscreen business applications is its user-friendliness.
Top-Notch Programming and Functionality
Android-based touchscreen devices excel at single-use functions. However, developers also have an unmatched level of control over how the OS operates. Imagine you have touchscreen devices powering a self-checkout area. Having all of those POS devices start going through an update on, say, Black Friday would be a bad thing. With Android, this can be entirely avoided. In fact, IT owners can keep the same OS and app version free of updates for years if they choose; we shouldn’t have to fix what isn’t broken, after all.
Android also provides incredibly easy-to-use applications to users, which is another benefit for businesses. Its open-source flexibility lets developers focus on a single use and optimize their applications for that single use. Customers benefit from an intuitive, attractive, and easy-to-understand touchscreen device, and businesses spend less time on automated tasks and more time delivering an excellent experience.
We often see newer versions of desktop operating systems attempting to provide everything while being the expert at nothing. With Android, its granularity allows developers to lock down and control devices while providing a specific function product, and it does so well. Businesses looking for no-frill user experiences across their touchscreen kiosks and POS devices can rest assured knowing that those applications are powered by an Android OS.
Sometimes, Simple Is Better
Businesses have enough on their plate without having the difficulties of a complex, multi-function technological foundation powering their customer-facing devices. Enterprise requirements call for enterprise-level solutions, and the Android OS has come a long way in providing scalable, secure, user-friendly apps. There’s a reason almost three-quarters of the world’s smartphones run on Android – it’s because it works.