RFID and Android

RFID and the Growing Use of Android

Android is being increasingly seen as the operating system of choice for the next generation of RFID reader devices. The proliferation of smart phones and tablets that are Android-based are making them prime candidates for the reader app devices that are now enabled in various ways with RFID radio devices used to interrogate RFID tags.

Android is developed by the Open Handset Alliance led by Google. It is built on a Linux operating system foundation. Google purchased the initial developer of the software, the Android Incorporated company, in 2005. The unveiling of the Android distribution on November 5, 2007 was announced with the founding of the Open Handset Alliance, a consortium of 84 hardware, software, and telecommunication companies devoted to advancing open standards for mobile devices. The use of the mobile devices to help in RFID applications followed shortly after.

This alliance shares a common goal of fostering innovation on mobile devices and giving consumers a far better user experience than much of what is available on today’s mobile platforms. The Android-powered devices had larger screens with more resolution than most of the legacy RFID readers. Also, by providing developers a new level of openness that enables them to work more collaboratively, Android accelerates the pace at which new and compelling mobile services and RFID apps are made available to consumers.

Android has evolved rapidly since its launch. Things to know about Android include that Google has named all projects after a dessert and the Android logo is a little green robot! Android is developed “on Internet time”, that is much faster than the old style of development (for example Windows releases which are typically several years apart). This increases the speed of new innovations and the release of updated and new features.

Android provides a rich application framework that allows a developer to build innovative apps and games for mobile devices in the well-known Java language environment. Many new RFID applications are making use of the Java environment and its many well-vetted tools and frameworks.

There are two fundamental concepts that are important to know about the Android app framework:

Apps provide multiple entry points

Android apps are built as a combination of distinct components that can be invoked individually. For instance, an individual activity provides a single screen for a user interface, and a service independently performs work in the background. From one component you can start another component using an intent. You can even start a component in a different app, such as an activity in a maps app to show an address. This model provides multiple entry points for a single app and allows any app to behave as a user’s “default” for an action that other apps may invoke.

Apps adapt to different devices

Android provides an adaptive app framework that allows you to provide unique resources for different device configurations. For example, you can create different XML layout files for different screen sizes and the system determines which layout to apply based on the current device’s screen size.

You can query the availability of device features at runtime if any app features require specific hardware such as a camera. If necessary, you can also declare features your app requires so app markets such as Google Play Store do not allow installation on devices that do not support that feature.

As the use of the Android OS becomes more prevalent in the RFID app space, you will be seeing more and more Android apps and RFID readers using the Android OS.

Got any great ideas on Android its rapidly developing relationship to RFID? Let us know in the comments!

For additional information on RFID components for your application including readers, Android software, tags and labels that can be used for emerging Android applications contact us at the Gateway RFID Store.