Motorola Solutions unveiled a new ruggedized Android-based smartphone aimed at the enterprise market today (1 October 2013). It also launched new versions of three existing enterprise mobile computers, which are now running the most popular version of the Android operating system (OS) – Jelly Bean.
Motorola today also announced updates to software offerings including Extensions (Mx) by Motorola Solutions security features and the fourth generation of RhoMobile Suite’s cross-platform development framework.
This suite of technologies and development tools will help businesses adapt, integrate and secure the consumer-focused Android OS for enterprise customers.
The new rugged smartphone is the pocket-sized TC55 touch computer, which merges the features of a traditional enterprise-class mobile computer with the form factor and functionality of a smartphone.
Andy McBain, senior product manager EMEA mobile computing & RFID at Motorola, said at a briefing in London today: ‘The TC55 is for enterprise applications, but with more of a consumer smartphone functionality and form factor. A number of clients said to us that they wanted a more fashionable looking device to match their customer facing roles – something more stylish, but with the form factor and longer life cycle of a traditional enterprise product.’
TC55 all-touch enterprise device
The new TC55 touch computer combines the best features of a traditional enterprise-class mobile computer with the form factor and functionality of a smartphone running the Jelly Bean version of the Android OS.
Designed for the field service, merchandising, and direct store delivery (DSD) markets, the TC55 offers an advanced capacitive 4.3-inch high-resolution touch screen. The touch screen is brighter both indoors and outdoors and dynamically adjusts to the environment enabling input with a bare or gloved finger (including leather and even latex) or a stylus – even if the screen is wet.
The TC55’s suite of high-performance data capture features can help mobile workers better serve their customers and improve efficiency by capturing bar codes, signatures, documents, photos and videos with ease. It comes with an integrated 1D bar code scanner, optional 1D/2D ring-style Bluetooth scanner, 8MP camera and Near Field Communications capability.
It also comes with IP67 sealing and the longest battery life in its class for dependable full-shift power. The 1X battery will last around 11.5 hours, while the 1.5X will go on for 14 hours. The batteries are also easily swappable.
The TC55 is being certified under GCF and will be unlocked, so it can be used on all carrier networks across Europe and Africa. It comes with Motorola Solutions Service from the Start warranty, providing coverage for normal wear and tear and a guaranteed three-day turnaround.
Leveraging Motorola’s voice leadership, the TC55’s speakerphone is four times louder than traditional smartphones and offers dual microphones with noise-cancelling technology that delivers outstanding clarity at both ends of a call.
Europe will see version with HSPA+, 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The North American version will also have LTE. McBain explained that it was not clear what spectrum bands would be used for LTE in Europe when the device was in development. 'There are nine antennas in there already,' he said. 'We didn't want to add another three just so we were ready for whichever LTE bands Europe finally chose.'
There are four versions of the TC55 available. The list price for the entry level (camera only version) is US$1,049, while the top tier version with the 1.5X battery and imaging capability is US$1,179.
Motorola mobile computers with Android Jelly Bean OS
Motorola is expanding its portfolio of purpose-built Android-based devices with the introduction of the ET1, MC40 and MC67 enterprise mobile computers running the Jelly Bean version of the Android OS and fortified with Mx enhancements (see below).
The Jelly Bean version of the Android OS provides new features important to enterprises including security enhancements, better graphics support and improved logging and support capabilities.
Motorola mobile computers with the Android OS can run Android applications that have been developed natively or with alternative frameworks such as RhoMobile Suite.
Motorola provides a full software development kit (SDK) that allows developers to easily develop and integrate enterprise data capture features on Motorola’s Android-based mobile computers.
McBain said that Motorola was continuing to support Microsoft versions of its mobile computing portfolio, but noted that there are more app developers creating for Android, Apple iOS and HTML 5 ahead of Microsoft now.
Extensions (Mx) by Motorola Solutions
Motorola has also developed some extensions to Android Jelly Bean. McBain said: ‘Android is designed for consumers, so there are some fundamental gaps that Microsoft customers are used to and need in an enterprise environment. Our Extensions (Mx) are designed to plug those gaps.’
McBain emphasised that the Extensions are not proprietary, but open-source extensions of Android sitting on top of the main OS. He said they do not reduce the functionality of Android or create any compatibility issues. There is no cost for the customer and although they come pre-installed, the customer does not have to activate them.
Mx provides a suite of security, device management and performance extensions to the standard Android OS to make it ready for the enterprise. With Mx, IT administrators can strictly enforce which business applications are allowed to run on a device, and mobile device management (MDM) vendors can provide real-time remote management control.
Mx infuses Motorola Android-based mobile computers with enterprise-class data capture features as well as fast and intelligent pre-emptive roaming and edge awareness to provide mobile workers with a superior wireless experience.
RhoMobile Suite 4.0
The RhoMobile Suite 4.0 is the next generation of cross-platform development tools that help businesses mobilise their workers, no matter what OS, device and technology is in their hands. ‘It is a framework, not a developer language,’ clarified McBain.
Developers can write, integrate, host and manage applications that work across platforms -- including new support for iOS7 and Windows Phone 8 - on both consumer and enterprise devices.
Enterprises, PartnerEmpower channel partners and other independent software vendors (ISVs) can reduce costs and improve time-to-market with their applications by using RhoMobile Suite 4.0 to write an application once and run it across multiple legacy and future OS platforms and devices.
Iain Clarke, vice president Western Europe, said: ‘These products are designed to make our customers more efficient and help them improve their customer service.’