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Smartphone Hardware Purchasing Recommendations

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Apple iOS Devices

TrackAbout's iOS Version Support Policy

Updated June 22, 2023. This policy is reviewed quarterly.

The TrackAbout iOS app is currently supported on Apple devices running iOS 14.8 or greater. TrackAbout does not provide support or updates for devices using iOS 14.7 or less.

Apple devices running older OS versions will stop getting updates of TrackAbout.

To find the software version on your iOS device see Apple's support.apple.com: Find the software version page.

You may also find the following page useful to see a list of which devices are able to run which versions of iOS: https://iosref.com/ios

Currently Supported iPhones

  • iPhone 14
  • iPhone 13
  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone SE series (2016, 2020, 2022)

See support.apple.com: Identifying iPhone Models to determine which model you have.

Supported iPads

NOTE: WiFi-only (non-cellular) iPads do not have a GPS chip and geolocation of assets and records will be inaccurate.

See support.apple.com: Identifying iPad Models

The TrackAbout application will work on iPad, but the design is not currently optimized to take advantage of the larger tablet screen.

Supported iPod Touches

NOTE: iPod Touches do not have a GPS chip and geolocation of assets and records will be inaccurate.

  • iPod Touch (7th generation)

See support.apple.com: Identifying iPod Models

TrackAbout's Support Policy Explained

What is TrackAbout's reasoning for supporting certain versions of iOS?

Apple releases new major versions of iOS (e.g. iOS 13 to iOS 14) each year. See Wikipedia History of iOS for the exact schedule.

TrackAbout must choose how far back to support major versions of iOS. As time passes, it becomes increasingly expensive and eventually impossible to continue supporting apps on old versions of iOS. Apple forces the hand of developers by dropping support for older versions of iOS from their developer tools.

iPhones and iPads are consumer technology, and the pace of change in the consumer space is rapid. Whereas rugged enterprise devices are typically expected to have a useful service life of 5 years, consumer technology generally has a life-span of 2-3 years.

TrackAbout is sensitive to the needs of its customers and does not wish to unduly prohibit use of the app by paying customers who haven't yet or cannot update their devices to the latest version of iOS.

Therefore, TrackAbout's iOS Version Support Policy balances these competing realities by:

  • Supporting the last two major releases (back to the most recent dot version of the older OS). For example, if iOS 11.3 is the latest version, TrackAbout supports iOS 11.X and iOS 10.3, which was the highest version in the 10.x series.
  • Prompting users periodically to upgrade from within the TrackAbout app when a newer iOS version is available.
  • Increasing TrackAbout's minimum requirements 6 months after Apple releases a new OS. New versions of iOS typically reach greater than 80% adoption within 6 months of release.

Google Android Devices

Android Version Support Policy

Updated June 22, 2023. This policy is reviewed quarterly.

The TrackAbout Android app is currently supported on Android devices running Android OS version 7 or higher.

Devices with non-supported OS versions will cease to get new updates of TrackAbout from their respective stores. They will always be able to uninstall and reinstall the last supported version from stores, but TrackAbout will only support the current application release.

See How to check what Android version you have

Android Device Buying Guide

There are many Android devices on the market at many different price points. It's very difficult for TrackAbout to reliably recommend specific models and keep those recommendations up-to-date. So how do you choose?

We are going to discuss several important factors to consider when purchasing. If you are purchasing rugged devices, we recommend finding a trusted supplier, such as Supply Chain Services https://www.supplychainservices.com/ (North American operations only).

Minimum Android Hardware Requirements
  • A rear-facing camera with 2 megapixels or greater
  • Minimum 1 GB RAM
  • Bluetooth (for printing or external scanners)
Rugged Android Devices
If you want or need a ruggedized device, especially one with built-in scanning hardware (instead of using camera barcode scanning), then you need to choose a device that has been tested and certified with TrackAbout. See TrackAbout Certified Devices.
Intrinsically Safe Devices
If you need explosion-proof devices for use around combustible materials, you do not have a lot of choices. Look first at vendor Bartec https://www.bartec.de/
Consumer Devices
First, you must meet the Operating System and Hardware requirements listed above.
Do not buy the cheapest devices you can find. You get what you pay for. Cheap devices will not perform well and will frustrate users.
Used devices will have no warranty repair support.
We recommend buying devices in the mid-tier of price or above.
Do not buy an Android device that is more than one year old, as it will stop getting Android OS updates in another year or so, and at a certain point, will not be able to run the TrackAbout app due to aging out of TrackAbout's supported Android version policy.
Consumer-Grade Safe Bets
The current generation Samsung Galaxy devices are typically safe bets because they meet all the above criteria. They are flagship (top of the line) products with great specs and a great camera, which makes for excellent scanning.
Devices sold directly in the Google Store are generally safe bets.
TrackAbout does not routinely test Android devices, so we can't make other more specific recommendations here.
Known-Bad Consumer-Grade Devices
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - Our test device had severe camera auto-focus problems that made scanning very frustrating. There are widely reported problems with auto-focus on the Note 4. We attempted modifying "Metering Modes" under camera settings, trying Matrix or Spot settings, but it did not help.
Mobile Device Management
We recommend finding a MDM vendor who can help you deploy and manage your mobile device fleet. MDMs will help you lock down devices for security, and monitor OS and App upgrade compliance. If you desire, you can use an MDM to deploy the TrackAbout app installer after downloading the latest version from TrackAbout's APK share web site https://apkshare.z20.web.core.windows.net/
For security and compliance reasons, we do not recommend a BYOD strategy for field workers.
As a company, you'll have no control or visibility into whether your employees are keeping their operating system and app updated. Minimum hardware and OS requirements may not be met, causing loss of compatibility or function.
Every device behaves a little differently, and you likely don't want to be troubleshooting the variety of different problems that arise from a disparate fleet of devices.
Personal security software may cause problems (user-installed anti-virus and VPN apps).
In short, not having to buy devices sounds great from a cost-savings perspective, until you have to start paying to solve the problems listed above.
Android OS Version
You must make sure the device meets TrackAbout's requirements (above) for minimum OS version. The higher the version number, the better.
Monthly Android OS Security Updates, and Major Version Updates
Google releases monthly operating system security patches and annual major OS version updates. It's important for your security and the security of your company that you choose a phone that will receive these updates. Bargain devices tend to not receive the updates. Some carrier-sold devices do not regularly receive updates. Devices sold directly by Google in their Store will always receive timely updates. Flagship devices like the Samsung Galaxy series sold by network carriers will likely receive updates. Ask when buying or do some research to find out.
CPU + Camera
Scanning QR and barcodes using the smartphone's camera requires a powerful CPU. A bargain phone will likely have a poor camera and a sub-par CPU. Most mid-tier devices made in the last couple of years will probably have acceptable camera and CPU performance, but you should buy one and test it, and return it if it doesn't perform well enough. Compare the performance to a high-end Android or iPhone running TrackAbout.
Most Android devices get 3 to 4 hours of screen on time (SoT) under typical usage scenarios before needing a recharge. Barcode scanning makes heavy use of the camera to take rapid images of the target barcodes. Those images are fed to the CPU for image recognition processing (finding the barcodes). Barcode scanning can therefore drain a battery faster.
Opt for a phone with an over-sized battery when possible.
A phone with replaceable batteries could be a good choice, but are rare these days.
Provide workers with car chargers or portable battery recharge packs for use in the field so they can keep going all day.
Be aware of Rapid or Quick Charge capabilities and buy compatible chargers.
Buy One and Test
What kind of environment are your workers in? Outdoors? Indoors in low-light? Some cameras do not perform well in low-light, they may have auto-focus problems which impacts scanning. It's important that you try out a phone in your environment before purchasing in quantity.
Useful Service Life
Consumer-grade smartphones have a useful service life of about 2 years. After 2 years, one of two things will happen. (1) The battery will age and fail to hold a reasonable charge. Batteries can sometimes be replaced, but it may not be cost-effective. (2) The device will no longer receive security updates. In either case, the device should be replaced.
Rugged-grade Android devices may have a longer service life of 4-5 years. However, they will likely not receive security updates.

TrackAbout's Android Support Policy Explained

What is TrackAbout's reasoning for supporting certain versions of Android?

See Wikipedia's Android Version History for detailed timeline of Android's version history.

Google increments the major version number of Android (e.g. Android 7.0 to Android 8.0) once a year.

Google increments the minor version number of Android (e.g. 7.0 to 7.1) occasionally. and with no set schedule. Google does issue monthly security patches that typically don't change the minor version number. However, not all phone manufacturers or cell phone carriers deliver the Google security updates monthly, if at all.

Google has an unwritten policy that states that its manufacturers should provide Android updates up to 18 months from a device's introduction date. However, manufacturers are not required to not follow this policy.

Different device manufacturers (Samsung, HTC, LG, etc) update their devices at different speeds. Traditionally, manufacturers have been slow to update devices, and have been known to abandon specific devices before 18 months have elapsed. This leads to a large number of simultaneously active versions of Android in the wild.

Android phones and tablets are generally a consumer technology, and the pace of change in the consumer space is rapid. Whereas rugged enterprise devices are typically expected to have a useful service life of 4-5 years, consumer technology generally has a life-span of 2 years.

There are a rugged Android devices available, and the version of Android OS installed on rugged devices tends to lag behind the latest consumer devices.

TrackAbout is sensitive to the needs of its customers and does not wish to unduly prohibit use of the app by paying customers who haven't yet or cannot update their devices to the latest version of Android. On the other hand, supporting so many different versions of the Android operating system adds complexity and maintenance costs to the software development process.

TrackAbout's Android Version Support Policy balances the competing realities by:

  • Supporting Android versions that have 10% or greater market share according to Google's monthly statistics.
  • Supporting rugged Android devices on a case-by-case basis and for as long as we reasonably can. Rugged device Android versions tend to lag consumer device versions and do not generally receive updates. It has been our experience that Android software development tools change to keep up with the latest versions of the OS, and sometimes we do not have a choice to support older operating systems. This can make it prohibitively expensive to support older versions of Android.

Bluetooth Barcode and RFID Scanner Support

Scanning assets with TrackAbout Mobile 7 using your phone's built-in camera is fast and reliable, but there are times when having another scanning method might fit your workflow better. That's why TrackAbout Mobile 7 (Android only) supports Bluetooth barcode and RFID scanners.


Bluetooth barcode and RFID scanners are widely available from numerous manufacturers, with models ranging from inexpensive on up, depending on features. Any basic scanner that supports HID communication and can pair with an Android phone should work with TrackAbout Mobile 7 (Android only). However, due to the vast array of scanners out there, we can't guarantee that any particular make/model is 100% compatible with TrackAbout or will meet your business needs.

Using a Bluetooth HID Scanner with TrackAbout Mobile 7 (Android)

Before you can start using Bluetooth HID scanners with TrackAbout Mobile 7 (Android), you'll need:

  • Both a scan prefix code and a scan suffix code

    The codes let TrackAbout Mobile 7 (Android) accurately read the data from a Bluetooth HID scanner.

    TrackAbout Support can help you create the codes (just give them a shout) and then will setup the codes in your TrackAbout system. You'll then program the codes into the individual scanners when you pair them with a mobile device running TrackAbout Mobile 7 (Android).

    In most cases, you'll only need one prefix code and one suffix code. Each Bluetooth HID scanner you put into service can use the same two codes.

  • A Bluetooth scanner that supports HID Communication

    HID (or Human Interface Device) is a technical standard that lets devices talk to each other. When looking for a device, look for Bluetooth HID, HID Compliant, or just HID in the device's specifications.

  • An Android phone or tablet

    The iPhone/iOS version of TrackAbout Mobile 7 does not support Bluetooth HID devices at this time.

  • TrackAbout Mobile 7.335 (or later) for Android

When all that's in place, you're ready to set up TrackAbout Mobile 7 (Android) to use a Bluetooth HID scanner:

Pair the scanner with your Android device following the instructions provided with the scanner and install any configuration apps that came with the scanner as recommended by the manufacturer.

If you get a notification to Configure physical keyboard when you pair the scanner, tap the notification and make sure Use on-screen keyboard is on.




After pairing, program the scanner to use the scanning prefix code and suffix code.

Depending on the make and model of scanner, you'll do this through the mobile device using a manufacturer-provided app or by manually scanning in the codes. In either case, follow the manufacturer's instructions to program the prefix and suffix codes. For assistance with programming your device contact TrackAbout Support.

Once the scanner is paired and configured to use the correct prefix and suffix codes, you'll need to tell TrackAbout Mobile 7 that you're using an HID device for scanning.

If you're setting up a barcode scanner, TrackAbout Mobile 7 should recognize the device by default.

If it doesn't, make sure TrackAbout Mobile 7 is not set to RFID scanning mode by doing the following: Tap MENU, then Settings. In the Scan Check section, tap RFID settings, then RFID Device Type. If RFID Device Type is anything other than NONE, tap to select None and then tap DONE.

If you're setting up an RFID scanner, you'll need to set TrackAbout Mobile 7's RFID Device Type to RFID HID:

  1. In TrackAbout Mobile 7, open the MENU.


  2. Tap Settings.


  3. Tap RFID settings in the Scan Check section.


  4. Select RFID HID as the RFID device type.


  5. Tap DONE.