Choose the right mobile device for your mobile property management softwareIn today’s mobile world, smartphones are now considered an extension of oneself. We view stock options, catch up on last night’s game, Tweet, respond to emails, and update business presentations all in the palm of our hand. Today’s mobile devices blend the line between work and personal life – making anything possible.

In fact, with benefits such as increased employee efficiency, enhanced and accurate data collection, and streamlined communications, it’s obvious why so many property management firms have integrated these devices into their daily operations (whether by providing devices for their team or implementing a BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, policy).

Once you have decided to go mobile, the first real challenge is deciding which mobile brand to roll out to your team. A majority of professionals in the property management field are still on the Blackberry legacy, though a trend is developing: as a result of Blackberry’s recent decline,  mobile users are looking to switch to a more modern device. Despite the vast competition within the smartphone industry, Apple and Android have proven themselves as marketplace leaders.

As a Client Account Manager here at Building Engines, I am often asked what device criteria property management firms should consider while searching for the perfect device. I advise my clients that there are three vital requirements to consider:

  1. Functionality
  2. Hardware
  3. Cost

Functionality of a mobile device is crucial. Property managers need to quickly be able to view tenant contacts and history on the go, send out important building-wide messages, and edit tenant leases. In addition, engineers need a consistently reliable and durable tool (especially offline or in areas of poor service).

Functionality is a large selling point for both Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android products – but for varying reasons. Apple is known for their products’ elegancy, ease of use, and seamlessness across their product line – proven most recently through the iPhone 5s and Apple’s latest operating system, iOS7. Unlike Android, Apple limits some functionality, such as screen customizations, folder creation, and uploading and working on files. (Android allows you to control your desktop computer right from your phone!) Proponents of iPhone believe these functionality restrictions enable iPhone devices to run with less hiccups than other devices.

Android devices allow a lot more customization and include the use of widgets – customizable displays of shortcuts to applications of your choice (usually the most-frequently used). Engineers will also love the array of keyboards Android offers. One keyboard known as Swype allows you to drag your finger over keys to type; combine this with the system’s text prediction and you will not need to lift a finger – literally. Another great benefit of Android is Adobe Flash Player. This application allows you to view a wider range of the Internet, just as if you were surfing from your desktop. The decision of functionality comes down to what your teams needs are: Apple’s  speed and seamlessness, versus Android’s free-range customization.

Hardware ties into the durability of the devices. Devices used by engineers need to be able to take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’! Apple’s iPhones are constructed of glass and metal, allowing the device to hold up with minimal evidence of general wear and tear. Google outsources the construction of their Android hardware to varying firms, resulting in dissimilar device construction. This causes size, shape, and materials to vary. As a result, the array of protective accessories on the market is limited. Many Android devices are comprised of a plastic material that can wear faster and may not sustain the engineers rough n’ tough work environment.

Your entire team can benefit from the removable storage and battery options from Android. iPhone devices are sold in a variety of storage options: 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB. Once this gigabyte storage is maxed out, you are out of luck. Whereas when an Android’s storage is chock-full, just swap it with a new SD card. You can also swap out your Android battery for a fully charged one, or even input an external battery to increase the overall battery life of your phone. Property managers will love the extra storage available for Android and engineers will enjoy the ease of extended battery life.

Now to answer upper management’s first question: Will these devices break the bank? Historically iPhones have been known to be a luxury smartphone, with prices displaying just that. Last year the company released the iPhone 5c to better accommodate customer’s budgets. Androids product prices range anywhere from budget friendly to hundreds of dollars. Whether your company is money conscious, or shooting for state of the art technology, both companies have a product within your price range.

Integrating smartphones into daily operations will come with many benefits. Upper management will appreciate the accurate reports from real-time data. Property managers can enjoy easy access to tenant contacts and communication, critical events in their building, and editing of documents while on the go. Engineers will enjoy being able to work on the go without the interruption of paperwork and have all their work order, PM and inspection data sync back to the web application. The ways in which smartphones can enhance our personal and professional lives is endless. By keeping in mind the functionality, hardware, and cost of devices within the smartphone industry, your team will be on the right track to improving your everyday functions.