It’s been a busy month since NRF and exciting to see what’s been happening in the world of rugged mobile computing. Ivanti’s supply chain team has been out in the world talking about the migration to Android, and there’s been a lot of interesting conversation!   One of the common discussions was around how diverse the mobile form factors are becoming among Android hardware options.

Through conversations, many categorized the hardware into five segments: rugged PDA, rugged mobile, rugged mobile with keys, tablet, and specialty (wearable, fork-lift, etc.).  The separation between “rugged mobile” hardware, and devices identified as “rugged mobile with keys” is interesting. More on that in a moment.  Otherwise, the categorization seems to be dictated by screen size, with an element of durability.

Where are your keys?

Keyed entry is one of the big user experience changes with Android hardware. Many rugged mobile computers in prior generations offered a variety of (sometimes interchangeable) physical keypad options.  With Android, the keyboard options became, for many, redundant.  Instead, software keypads deliver countless on-screen options.  Still, “rugged mobile with keys” remains relevant and a part of many hardware manufacturers’ core product lines. A recent example is Zebra’s MC3300. It’s a proven product line with a strong history throughout supply chain use cases. The second generation to offer Android, and yet several keypad options remain part of the configuration.

That’s one of the really interesting things about the move to Android – keys now come in countless configurations. On-screen keypads have taken the place of physical keypads for several form factors, clearing the way for various screen sizes. At the same time, physical keys remain, creating this classification of “rugged mobile with keys”. It’s a group that requires its own category, because different use cases each have their own optimal device type.

Whether with keys or without, organizations have a growing number of choices for Android hardware. And for these mobile devices, our Velocity framework can migrate your existing apps. Oh, and if your new device has shed its keys – you can create your own custom, on-screen keypads. Make them field specific, for example: only numbers if the active data field expects a quantity. Take a look to learn more.