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Smartphone Buying Guide for Service Contractors, Part 2: iOS or Android?

August 18, 2015

As I ponder the differences between mobile device platforms, I wonder if this blog post is like dispensing parenting or political advice? Is this one area where we all have our preferences and nothing anybody else says will change our opinions about which is the best?

Sumsung or iPhone?
If that’s the case, carry on with your established allegiances.  But if you’re looking for some advice from a software development company that creates applications for iOS and Android mobile platforms, we can help.

The Mobile View from 10,000’

iOS is the mobile operating system created by Apple to run on Apple devices like iPhones, iPods and iPads. This model gives Apple all of the control and decision-making power about how the hardware and software work.

Android is the mobile operating system created by Google that runs on a variety of smartphones from providers like Samsung, LG, Motorola, Sony, Kyocera, and the list goes on. This model means that the operating system works slightly differently across different hardware vendor’s devices. For example, Samsung is a leading Android provider with an affordable suite of devices. However, Samsung applies more changes to the core Android operating system than other device makers. Software companies like ServiceTrade have to take these multiple configurations into account and spend more time developing and supporting Android-compatible applications to ensure that every user has a great experience.

Windows Phone is the mobile operating system created by Microsoft for Windows mobile devices like Lumina phones, Surface tablets, Dell Venues and HP Streams. There is a chicken and egg situation developing for Windows devices:  A relatively low adoption rate means that application development by vendors other than Microsoft is uncommon. Whether it’s because of the low adoption or the shortage of high-quality applications, Windows devices aren’t keeping pace with Android and iOS, and are not your best bet. Notice that they didn’t make the title.

Comparing Approaches

As a consumer, you probably see the wider variety of Android devices a positive: More options to pick the right phone and tablet for your job and life. But for software companies like ServiceTrade, this presents a significant amount of additional time in development, testing and support.

With iOS and Apple devices, software development companies can focus on compatibility with a limited number of configurations. Software companies choose to support a certain number of older operating system versions and devices, which allows them to spend more of their R&D time in development of new features instead of tweaking the same feature to work on multiple operating system/device combinations.  

With Android devices, software development companies develop features, then spend more time making sure that they work on the wide array of devices and operating system versions in the market. In most cases, if the R&D time is going into porting features, it’s not being spent creating new features. This can negatively impact the pace of innovation.

This is why ServiceTrade’s iOS users see new features more frequently than ServiceTrade’s Android users. We strive to keep the user experiences as similar as possible, but the reality is that our iOS development team is able achieve more in less time.

Pros and Cons

Like politics and parenting, if you Google anything related to why one option is the best, you’ll find an infinite number of opinions in either direction. From our perspective, these are the most important pros and cons for a service contractor:

Pros:  Easy to use, lots of high-quality applications
Con:  Cost

Pros: Many device options to choose from, wider range of price points
Con:  Apps more likely to have usability issues on less common devices

Putting a Stake in the Ground

Today, ServiceTrade’s users are 40% Android and 60% iOS. The competitive pricing of Android options is very attractive for a business owner with a fleet of trucks and techs. The stability and user experience of Apple devices make them easy for almost any user to pick up and become productive with almost immediately.

At the end of the day, what matters most is that you have a mobile solution in the field that is giving techs the information they need, and collecting on-site information that enables amazing customer service. And you can get that with both Android and iOS smartphones.  

Three steps to choose between iOS and Android devices:

  1. Look into pricing.
  2. Compare application stores for the tools that you need.
  3. Work with a sales rep who will let you test both types of devices before making a purchasing decision.

If Apple iOS smartphones are in your budget, they’re a safe choice for a great user experience. If they’re not, choose between the widely available Samsung Android devices.


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Icon made by Freepik from Smartphones photo by Karlas Dambrans on Flickr. Both are distributed under the Creative Commons License.

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