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What mobile device should you use?

Feb 09, 20042 mins
Network Security

Choosing between custom devices or off-the-shelf handhelds comes down to application functionality.

The last time we looked at mobile middleware (summer 2001), vendors touted the combination of voice recognition and voice synthesis as the next big step for mobile applications. At the time, the painfully small screens of Web-enabled mobile phones persuaded vendors to think of the phones in terms of voice input and output instead of keypad entry and screen display. Unfortunately, for all but the simplest and most regimented applications, voice recognition technology is still too error-prone for reliable use.

As a result, the wireless handhelds you choose for a mission-critical application likely will be Palm, Pocket PC or Tablet PC devices, not cell phones. Business applications typically need prodigious amounts of screen real estate to collect or display all the data items related to a specific aspect of a particular business event or activity. These data items are often lengthy textual fields and might even encompass customer signatures. For an extreme example, UPS and FedEx are so mobilization-intensive they use custom-designed wireless handhelds to track shipment pickups, transfers and deliveries.

If your application doesn’t require custom hardware, device selection boils down to choosing an off-the-shelf handheld that offers a large-enough screen for each set of related data items, sufficient memory for all the program logic the developers are likely to write and a user interface that people are likely to find comfortable and intuitive.

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