Comparing tablets, smartphones and OSes: What should you support?

Comparing tablets, smartphones and mobile OSes

Employees have their pick of mobile OSes, smartphones and tablets these days, but that doesn't mean your organization has to support them all.

Deciding on support policies can get tricky for IT administrators. How do you determine which devices and OSes you'll support and which ones you won't? You have to spend some time looking at all the options, comparing tablets and smartphones and evaluating operating systems. Consider security features and enterprise-friendliness, and examine how devices stack up against their competition.

Table of contents:

Operating system comparison: Android versus iOS

Employees aren't satisfied with company-issued BlackBerrys anymore, much to the dismay of many admins. Instead, users choose Android or iOS personal devices and want to use them for work, too. An operating system comparison will help you understand the security features of both OSes. Apple iOS devices get their apps from the App Store, which is known for tight security, and devices running newer versions of Android support hardware encryption.

How to choose personal mobile devices

Different mobile devices serve different purposes, but it can be a hassle to carry a personal phone, work phone, tablet, laptop, GPS and digital camera. It would be nice to have all those capabilities on one personal mobile device, but smartphones are still inadequate for word processing and it's tough to make phone calls from your tablet. You have to be choosy about which devices you carry around and compare OSes to make sure you're getting all the functionality you need.

Comparing tablets for enterprise use

Now that there's competition in the tablet market, it can be tough to choose the right one for your company. When comparing tablets, consider the screen size, operating system and connectivity, and make sure the enterprise tablet PC you choose fits your needs. It should be able to handle unified communications and the other business processes that employees require.

If you're worried about fragmentation, support OSes wisely

If you have multiple versions of different OSes running on lots of different devices, you're sure to run into management issues and app distribution hang-ups. Even though you can't force employees to all have the same OS and version, you can limit OS fragmentation by comparing operating systems and supporting fewer fragmented devices and operating system versions.

There are tablets out there besides the iPad

For businesses that are looking to outfit employees with tablet PCs, Apple's iPad doesn't always win the day. The iPad still has the largest share of the tablet market, but slates from other vendors are starting to fit industry-specific niches. For example, it's easier for waitstaff to take orders on a Samsung Galaxy Tab than on the bulkier iPad. Comparing tablet options ensures that you get the right one for your organization.

When Christmas presents go corporate

Consumer tech companies drop some of their coolest, most desirable products in the fourth quarter because they can capitalize on the fact that people want tech gifts. When your users' holiday wishes come true, you have to deal with an influx of iPad Minis, Kindle Fires and more accessing the corporate network. Don't you wish more of your employees asked for neckties and socks this year?