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The Fire Service Technology article in the March issue of Firehouse® reported specifically about devices that use the Apple iOS operating system, such as iPhones and iPads. This article focuses on smartphones and tablets for the Android operating system.
Depending on which business article you read, the market share between the Apple iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod, etc.) and the Android operating system are close. An article posted by Reuters in March 2013 predicted that sales of Android devices, both smartphones and tablets, will exceed the iPhone and iPad this year.
There are very important discussions about app development for each of the devices. In the article “Android Is Bigger, But Here’s Why Apple Is Still the Undisputed App Cash King” on Wired.com in December 2012, reporter Sarah Mitroff explains that her research has shown that Apple has a restrictive development process that requires a developer to jump through a lot of hoops (quality control) to be able to develop and distribute the app. This translates to a potentially better quality app. This results in applications that are less “buggy” on the Apple iOS system because of this tighter control. From a developer’s perspective, the Android system is open-source and makes the accessibility and development/distribution of apps much easier. This means that the opportunity for the new development of the app that you are looking for may have a better chance on the Android side of the discussion.
Android smartphones and tablets have some impressive devices that are on the market and exciting new devices that will be released this year. Most of the promising apps are made on both Android and Apple iOS platforms or they have a similar program that works very much the same. The March article referenced the use of tablets in the fire apparatus, used on incidents, as a vehicle locator and for fire prevention inspections; this functionality is very much the same with the Android devices. The app download process is similar and some apps are free, some are inexpensive and then there are others that require subscriptions and can be costly. What follows is a sampling of Android apps I came across when searching.
• eDispatches – Receive text and or voice dispatches as well as an optional audio monitoring feature. Also incorporates a Priority Blast message or mass-messaging feature.
• Streetwise CADlink – One of the new programs for devices with the Android system is the Streetwise CADlink from Hangar 14 Solutions, which provides comprehensive information in the way of response data through computer-aided dispatch (CAD), critical maps and more to devices operating in the field.
• Cadpage (linked to Active 911) – Essential dispatch and response information. Provides mapping, routing and automatic vehicle locator functionality.
• Hybrid Auto Extrication Guide – Provides clear, zoomable vehicle schematics indicating high-power locations, airbag sensors and safe cut points.
• NIMS ICS Guide – The National Incident Management System (NIMS) Incident Command System (ICS) guide in app format.
• ESRI ArcGIS and Collector – Geographic information system (GIS) applications that provide a way to use GIS information.
• CMC Rope Rescue Field Guide – Rope rescue guide with charts, diagrams and how-to instructions.
• Search and Rescue App – An app that uses location functionality to identify where a searcher has searched.
• GPS Grid Reference App – An app that provides GPS grid reference in the field.
• Storm Shield – A detail-rich app with weather radar and location-based alerts.
• NOAA Radar and Alerts – A live wallpaper that displays information directly on the smartphone or tablet.
• Radar Alive – Brings detailed live radar from every state and U.S.territory.
(The Weatherbug, The Weather Channel, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA Radio and Lightning Locator apps are on both platforms and were referenced in the March article.)