Choosing a mobile device for your field service organisation [Part 2] – Which operating system?


Selecting a mobile device for your field service engineers is an important decision. Last week we looked at choosing between smartphones, phablets and tablets. This week, we explore some of the things you need to consider when choosing an operating system.

Choosing a mobile device is not just about the hardware it has (processor, screen size, etc.).  The operating system (OS) it uses is just as important.  Currently, the four top mobile operating systems are Android, iOS (Apple), Windows Phone and Blackberry OS, with Android and iOS by far the most popular of these. Firefox OS and Sailfish OS are two other less pervasive platforms.

When choosing an operating system, there are many factors to consider. Below are just some of the main ones that you should be thinking about.

User experience

Is the OS easy to use and learn?  If there is a steep learning curve involved for new users, consider the effect this could have on the productivity of your workforce.  A 2013 report from Pfeiffer found that iOS was the winner when it came to user experience.  However, your employees may already be used to using a certain OS, so take this into account too.


Although not down to OS alone, the reliability of devices is important to consider.  If your mobile workforce is using devices that frequently crash and have other reliability issues, then important data could be lost and productivity will suffer.  Again, Apple and iOS often come out on top here – a FixYa comparison of manufacturers ranked Apple devices as the most reliable, with others some way behind.


This will certainly be an important factor to consider.  After all, you don’t want a security breach to put sensitive company data at risk. Although you’ll most likely want to have an internal security or device management policy, the security of each OS is also important.

Yet again, iOS has to be considered the winner here, at least compared to Android. iOS subject to tight controls and rigorous policing; only approved apps on the App Store can be installed (unless the device has been jailbroken). Android, on the other hand, allows apps to be installed from third-party sources and is therefore at much greater risk of malware.

Compatibility with existing software/systems

Are you already using a mobile solution to manage your field operations?  If so, a primary concern should be finding out which operating systems are compatible with the software.

Providers that offer native solutions – that is, apps created specifically for a certain platform – are likely to offer iPhone and Android apps but may not support other operating systems.  Those offering HTML5 apps (like Oneserve) generally support a wider range of devices as the app can be accessed via a standard mobile browser (no downloads are required).  So this is certainly worth bearing in mind – you don’t want to end up with devices that are incompatible with your mobile field service software.

Remember that buying new devices alone will not automatically improve the performance of your organisation – you should also have a mobile solution that can help your field staff become more efficient and productive. Find out how we could help you transform your performance by requesting a demo here.