I'm always amused when personal and business interests intersect. I happened to be evaluating tablets for myself (because I'm a laggard and still don't have one) and came across an article that stated that Google's new Nexus 7 tablet might be a "boon for POS." As you might know, I've been writing about mobile POS for a while now, but thusfar the biggest name in the hardware game has been Apple.
Unfortunately, the article didn't really go into much detail on the why and how the Nexus 7 could be a boon for POS. I can assume a few things. The price point (sub-$300) is definitely right, as are the hardware specs (quad core processor, 2 GB RAM, etc.).
Regardless of whether that particular tablet really is ideal for POS, it got me thinking. I was just at RetailNOW and there wasn't much talk of POS on Android (although POS-X did reveal an Android-based POS terminal). All of the software vendors I met with had either iOS or Windows-based versions of their software. No Android. That got me wondering about Android as a development platform for POS. Is something wrong with Android? Too difficult? No support? Luckily, Will Atkinson, president of CAP Software, agreed to shed some light on the subject.
Monocello: What are the pros of coding for Android?
Atkinson: I think the pros are that it is open source and allows a lot of freedom and creativity for developers. It’s also turning out to be a widely accepted platform, at least at the consumer level, so there will be lots of devices, and support for those devices, out there.
Monocello: What are the cons of coding for Android?
Atkinson: It’s open source and subject to frequent updates/patches and it is difficult to control quality. That, and the new versions of the OS don’t always provide continuity or compatibility for software products, so it can be difficult to maintain.
Atkinson: Lots of devices, and more are on the way. There is a wide distribution network and lots of consumers are comfortable with it.
Monocello: What are the cons of producing an app for Android devices?
Atkinson: Lots of devices! You have to support various form factors, versions, etc. and there are not as many traditional POS companies developing peripheral devices that work with Android.
Monocello: What else can/should be known about Android devices and POS?
Atkinson: With the arrival of affordable Windows tablets, Android becomes a tougher proposition for commercial grade devices. If you have a killer app that needs to go out to consumers so they can interact with your merchants, then Android seems like a good option. But, if you’re trying to provide full POS functionality, it’s a more difficult task and the road ahead is less clear.