Everything you need to know about Windows Embedded 8 Handheld

12 03 2014
Windows Embedded 8 Handheld - What we currently know!

Windows Embedded 8 Handheld – What we currently know!

So With Microsofots successor to Windows Mobile now piloting in the states I thought it would be a good time to answer all the questions we have had about WE8H, here’s most of them.  We’ve done our best on this so we hope this stimulates conversation and more questions.  That way we all keep learning, so just ask in the comments below or tweet us at @ruggedandmobile if you want to connect.

How do I develop WE8H applications?

You basically use the Windows Phone 8 development tools and SDKs to get set up and then you install the WE8H SDK to use the specific features of this OS.  You need the latest versions of Visual Studio from 2012 onwards. VS 2008 is no good any more.  Now the catch is that you can install VS 2012 on a W7 machine, but to install the WP8 components you need to have a W8 machine.  Good luck with that!!

When is WE8H released officially?

Still not sure, nothing has been set in stone yet and there are no devices at all.  We constantly pester distributors and manufacturers and none of them can answer that question. Form experience I would say that 2014 is possible but i’m not sure if it’s probable.

What Mobile devices are available to test on?

In short none yet, but there are a few announced ones.  Motorola have a device that was piloting on the Home Depot pilot in the USA and their CEO also mentioned a tablet in a recent interview.  Pidion have announced 2 new devices the BM180 and the BP30 which are a POS and PDA style terminal running both Android 4,2 and WE8H.  We sell more Pidion than anyone in the UK and we’ve not seen one yet!  Panasonic are rumoured to be developing a tablet and Honeywell and Ingenico (Who bought Baracoda recently) are both partners in the pilot schemes.

Will we see WE8H on Nokia or consumer devices?

No, WE8H is intended only for pure business devices where data capture and POS is at the core of the solution.  COnsumer devices will continue to run Windows 8 Phone edition or WIndows 8 RT/Pro on tablets.

Do my old Windows Mobile based apps port easily?

We work with IOS, Android, WM and WP8 and we’ve also tinkered with WE8H here so we can answer this categorically.  Nothing will port at all from the older Windows Mobile or Windows Embedded Handheld OS.  We have found porting to Android far easier which sounds bazaar but at least we can make those apps more hybrid right now and reduce future risk for clients.

Is this just Windows Phone with some tweaks?

WE8H is based on the WP8 core and it does look a lot more like WP8 and what you see on the Nokia Lumia range.  So usability is up, however there are a lot of differences between the 2 OS’s.

So it’s as easy to port to Android?  Why would I port to WE8H?

Well firstly it’s easier if you already know Android and Java.  Many Microsoft houses don’t so you still get to work with familiar tools and technology like C# if porting to WE8H.  There is work required though and I will share that some Microsoft people here struggled more understanding the W8P solution process than the IOS/Android ones.  I’d go as far as saying though that in this new multi-os hybrid world we live in WE8H is not as familiar to many as you might think.  Also WE8H is designed to integrate far better with back end systems that are Microsoft..yada yada yada…yawn.  We heard it all before.  IOS and Andoird have way big enough app producers to get round all of that!

If the peripheral integration into the SDK lives up to what I think it is, then that will be nice.  If you can have pure, direct data capture from within the SDK then that will be a big benefit for building solutions with data capture.  Trick is how many businesses going mobile today actually see that as a benefit?

Is there an SDK and is peripheral support in that?

Yes and Yes, download it here and as far as we have worked out the SDK does have a lot of the peripheral support in it already but it’s currently limited.  It’s

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2014, Android even more popular, but what’s the whole story?

10 02 2014

Operating System

3Q13 Shipment Volumes

3Q13 Market Share

3Q12 Shipment Volumes

3Q12 Market Share

Year-Over-Year Change

Android

211.6

81.0%

139.9

74.9%

51.3%

iOS

33.8

12.9%

26.9

14.4%

25.6%

Windows Phone

9.5

3.6%

3.7

2.0%

156.0%

BlackBerry

4.5

1.7%

7.7

4.1%

-41.6%

Others

1.7

0.6%

8.4

4.5%

-80.1%

Total

261.1

100.0%

186.7

100.0%

39.9%

Android is here to stay in the rugged market now and according to latest figures it’s still growing globally, pushing past the 80% of the market figure at the end of 2013.  However overall the OS market share doesn’t tell the whole story so I wanted to highlight a few things that m ight be changing in the OS market.

1. Android is the biggest but is it the best?

Whilst 80% of the planet use it, the up take in the newer versions isn’t what you think with most people sticking at Jelly bean 4.1, that leaves the 3 latest versions lagging on up take.  Are people fed up with the amount of change and vendors also aren’t upgrading existing phones, trying to get customers to buy new models so the story isn’t quite all rosy perhaps?

Android platform versions 2014

Android platform versions 2014

2. Weak foundations?

In the rugged market Android devices are still not as supported as their Windows Mobile counterparts. SDK’s aren’t as deep and whilst the OS itself is more open and programmable it’s still a sign that vendors are still possibly hedging their bets. Smartphone vendors too, can’t seem to get a hold of the market with  Samsung taking the lions share of 40% of those shipments with everyone else in single digit share and many under 1%. With Samsung already working on it’s own OS (which recently saw a major Japanese pilot pull out on it), the platform for Android could easily be drawn out from under it.

3. The Apple’s still fresh

Despite falling market share, Apple still saw growth and is still dominant in the developed world. IOS still has a wonderful platform to build on and whilst Apple needs to make some right decisions, it’s still in a hugely powerful position to win back market share at any time.

Smartphone average selling price by OS

Smartphone average selling price by OS

4. Microsoft bounding back?

Windows phone posted the largest year on year growth. OK so most of that came from buying Nokia, which accounts for about 93% of all WP sales but either way Microsoft are slowly but surely starting to gain traction and are pulling ahead in the race for 3rd place.  There’s still time to get Windows 8 embeded right and with that they could build a string business based platform to grow back from. Having Bill Gates back will also make a difference to them. Don’t forget that the “Gates” factor is as strong as the “Jobs” one!

5. Blackberry sized up by the undertaker

BB continued it’s slide with the largest decline it’s ever had year on year as well as putting itself up for sale, at least informally anyway! The new Android based BB10 OS simply didn’t hit, demand for its older BB7 OS held its strength in developing nations but even with a new CEO and $1B of investment I think BB is the place i’d least want to be working at right now.

So on the face of it the mobile OS market probably doesn’t give us any surprises but have a look at the currents underneath and there seems to be plenty of change going on that could impact it hugely in the year to come which will probably bring a lot more uncertainty to the market as it still tries to find it’s feet.  One thing is for sure though…We’re certainly employing a deeper multi-OS strategy to everything we do here now so everyone is rolling up their sleeves and working on multiple platforms from now on.

http://www.ruggedandmobile.com





Difference between GPRS, 3G and 4G

24 06 2013
GPRS or 3G still need to be carefully considered

GPRS or 3G still need to be carefully considered

Working out what rugged handheld pda’s have what kind of connection to the mobile network can be fought with unknowns so this article clears up everything you need to know, in layman’s terms what all the different types of mobile network you chips you can opt for.

We blogged about the difference between GPRS, 3G and HSDPA some time ago now and it turned out to be a really popular blog so I wanted to drag the advice into 2013, by adding a little bit about 4G too.

Mobile data can be explained easily using the “2G, 3G & 4G” terms but you’ll see a lot more than this on the spec sheets so below is a quick overview of some of the most important things you need to know about GPRS.

3G in a nutshell

Just to quickly explain 3G comes in 3 broad types:

2G – This used General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) and was the first kind of mobile data technology we had.

3G – Superseded GPRS and was a more robust and faster technology

4G – Recently launched, is new technology designed for 100MB per second with models to support data consumption in the year 2013 and beyond.

Your rugged handheld or smartphone will support some or all of these and we go into detail below.

Before we grew legs and left the ponds!

Way back it all started with 2G!  As mobile phones became ever more popular we all started to think of ways we could use our phones like we used our computers, so 2G was born.  2G was pure GPRS, the first of its kind and it was slow.  When launched you were lucky to get the theoretical 40Kbps and I never heard of anyone getting close to the 170Kbps that the last versions of 2G theoretically gave.

You couldn’t take calls and sync data at the same time and you’ll probably not find 2G on anything these days.

Enter 2.5G

2.5G is commonly referred to as “Edge” or Enhanced GPRS, depending on where you’re from or how you talk!  The “E” is key though as this is what you’ll see on your smartphone mobile data icon if you’re in a 2.5G zone.

Edge brought along the ability to take calls whilst syncing data in the background and with better encoding methods it also brought 3-fold improvements in speed with theoretical speeds of 400Kbps.

Even today Edge is still available as an option in many rugged handheld PDA’s because it’s robust, it uses less power than 3G, its cheaper to spec and many applications still only require GPRS speeds.  Indeed in the UK, you will also still regularly find you’re in a 2.5G zone anyway so that’s all you’ll get in terms of speed anyway!

However edge was really a stop gap technology as we all knew 3G was coming.

3G Arrives!

Soon after 2002 and those rather exciting and hugely expensive 3G license auctions, 3G was released and it not only gave us more reliable faster data rates, initially up to about 384kbps but because it was based on a far better and newer technology that allowed truly synchronous voice and data usage as well as supporting far higher future speeds.  With 3G, the web and data tasks that we take for granted today, suddenly became truly usable and an explosion of mobile data usage followed driving improved speeds almost every year 3G existed.

3G Technologies you’ll see – HSDPA, 3.5G, 3.75, 4G and beyond

Even today in 2013 3G is still the most prevalent mobile data technology.  Most of the smartphones we use are running on 3G so lets talk about the types of 3G you’ll find on the spec sheets of rugged PDA’s or smartphones here:

  • 3G – Was the first type of 3G to hit the market.
  • 3.5G (HSDPA) – is still the standard for many Rugged Handhelds.  Running initially at 1.3mbps networks have been slowly upgraded across the UK to run at speeds of up to 7.2mbps.
  • 3.75G (HSPA/HSUPA) - Improved speeds to 14MBps.
  • 3.8G (HSPA) - 22MBps
  • 3.9G (HSPA+) - Theoretically designed to support 80MBps + speeds.

Now which one your device runs needs a quick check of the spec sheet.  However be aware that in the UK, despite the chips in your smartphone being capable of 22MBps, the networks have all largely not been upgraded since the 3.5G updates so we’re all running at theoretical speeds of about 7.2MBPs.

Mobile data needs explode – Enter 4G

in 2012 4G was launched which is again a brand new mobile data technology and designed to support our mobile data consumption habits into the future!  GPRS largely supported a bunch of early adopter users that were happy checking emails on the move with businesses happy to sync small amounts of application updates every few hours.

3G supported the smartphone user explosion, allowing us to share photos, browse maps and browse or use the internet pretty freely but it still thought of mobile data as something we wanted to download.

Today however we are all constantly creating data and we need a more robust, faster and secure technology to allow us to do this.  4G supports 100MBps+ and is designed to support all manner of streaming and heavy data use so not only is watching BBC iPlayer on the move a formality but taking video, editing and then sharing online is also something we will be able to do with 4G.

In fact 4G theoretically now surpasses the fixed fibre option broadband services we buy so we’re now in an age where our smartphones and rugged PDA’s have a faster connection to the internet than our businesses and homes do.  Wow how Star Trek is that!!

We’ll end with the  most common questions we’re asked about 4G

Do I buy a 4G device yet?

The answer to that is complicated but at the end of the day many newer devices already support 4G and will degrade back easily to 3G or even GPRS when they have to so we say if the device has 4G go for it!

if you still need some help then don’t forget that you can get in touch with us at Rugged and Mobile anytime and we’ll only be too happy to help you choose the right device for you and your business.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





Winmate e430 – How to configure and spec

17 06 2013
Uncovering how to configure the perfect Winmate's e430

Uncovering how to configure the perfect Winmate e430

We’ve been selling the Winmate line of rugged handhelds for some months now and today I wanted to run people through the Winmate e430, specifically how you can spec it.  The e430 is a unique proposition in the rugged market with 4.3″ LCD and it’s one of the only rugged PDA’s we know of that’s been designed firstly for Android.  It puts a fully rugged device in your hands from as little as £400 but it also offers built in barcode scanner and RFID reader options it can be specced from a simple rugged smartphone to fully fledged rugged business tool.

Choose your spec!

Whilst the device is great, the line up is confusing so lets clear this up here.  The Winmate e430 comes in 2 main flavours; the e430T and the 430M.  Both configs come with Camera, WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS as standard, however the rest you can configure.

Base technology

Now these are actually the mainboards you’re specifying here with the e430M brining a 600MHz single core architecture that will be good enough for most but has a definite price advantage.  Choose the e430T if you need added performance as it brings an A8 Cortex 1GHz chip, up their with the latest tech.

Choose operating systems

You can spec Windows Mobile on the e430T only as it requires the extra power to run, however you can spec Android 2.3 on either base platform.

To 3G or not to 3G

Now decide whether you want 3G embedded or not allowing you to use the Winmate e430 as a full blown phone and 3G data capable device or remove the cost if working inside with now need for 3G.

Add barcode scanners

Now you can add a 1D laser scanner or 2D imager to the device.  These scanners are built in and add a small bump onto the back case.  It’s hardly there and means you have a

Add a barcode scanner

Add a barcode scanner

Add RFID

Now choose if you want RFID.  You can spec RFID along side the scanner and this gives you an HF RFID reader/writer capable of Mifare and NFC communication.

Antimicrobial case

You can have all of this in the standard rugged case or a specialised antimicrobial one for laboratory or hospital use.

Choose your support

We support Winmate from right here in Liverpool, so whether if you rely on the 12 month warranty or choose a more comprehensive service pack as good as anything you can get from Motorola then you know you have someone in the UK working along side you.

Getting the spec right of any device can be a make or break thing and many people don’t know what their options are.  Now at least for the Winmate e430 you know but if you need a little more then just come to us and ask!

rugged and mobile tips





Android and IOS march on towards smartphone domination

31 05 2013
Android and IOS take over Smartphone!

Android and IOS take over Smartphone!

Android and IOS now account for over 92% of all smartphone operating systems.  This quarter also saw the rise of Windows Phone based OS’s into 3rd, with 3% market share and putting the once 40% market share leader, Blackberry into 4th position with meagre 2% of the market.

Android was still in ascension with nearly double the volume and a rise from 59% to 75% of market share.

Applies IOS is now starting to suffer in the smartphone market with a decline year on year from 23% to 17% share

Microsoft had some good news and despite paltry volume figures compared to Android, it still managed a huge 133% climb in its market share year on year beating the trends in general volume too.  Too early to start talking about how Microsoft is back just yet but it’s encouraging stuff for the Redmond folk.

Blackberry really now does look dead in the water.  With news they’re now making their BBM app available on other platforms, it looks like they’ve got some serious work to do if they want an invite at future smartphone parties.

What do we think?

Well Android is where we’re seeing growth in the Rugged market where Microsoft has it all to lose at this stage.  However with pressure from smartphone business users looking for a blanket experience in their industrial applications and with developers and software houses firmly fixed on Android it’s going to get messy!

Top Five Smartphone Operating Systems, Shipments, and Market             Share, 1Q 2013 (Units in Millions)
1Q13 1Q12
Shipment 1Q13 Market Shipment 1Q12 Market Year over Year
Operating System Volume Share Volume Share Change
          Android           162           .1           75           .0%           90           .3           59           .1%           79           .5%
          iOS           37           .4           17           .3%           35           .1           23           .0%           6           .6%
          Windows Phone           7           .0           3           .2%           3           .0           2           .0%           133           .3%
          BlackBerry OS           6           .3           2           .9%           9           .7           6           .4%           -35           .1%
          Linux           2           .1           1           .0%           3           .6           2           .4%           -41           .7%
          Symbian           1           .2           0           .6%           10           .4           6           .8%           -88           .5%
          Others           0           .1           0           .0%           0           .6           0           .4%           -83           .3%
Total 216 .2 100 .0% 152 .7 100 .0% 41 .6%

Courtesy of: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, May 2013.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.








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