Openbravo Web POS is well on its way and in a few weeks time our partners and retail customers will be able to start using it for their businesses. We at Openbravo produce software and unlike Google or Microsoft we don´t plan to stray into designing hardware. We are proud to be hardware-agnostic in the sense that we believe our software should run on anything with a browser. With Google´s new Nexus 7 tablet however, it is hard for me to hide excitement about a piece of hardware and especially its usage in combination with Web POS. I can totally imagine using the Nexus 7 for client-side selling in stores. Here´s why it looks like an ideal candidate.
With a 7 inch diagonal screen size and 340 grams weight, it seems like a tablet you want to keep with you at all times while talking to customers in your store. You could tuck it in a pocket or shove it in a waist-pouch similar to what some waiting staff wear in restaurants. The resolution of 1280x800px is ample (Openbravo Web POS has a 1024x768px minimum requirement) and its display size is probably just large enough to allow for low-volume product browsing and selling. Pythagoras helped me out with a^2 = b^2 + c^2 to model a quick mockup in real-life dimensions to assess the usability by printing a Web POS mockup on paper. Whereas a Galaxy Note would not be usable without stylus and an iPad is just too big to carry around, the Nexus 7 seems to have the perfect size.
This tablet is designed for media consumption and gaming and the tech specs show this. A quad-core Tegra 3 processor should make it fast and smooth and Google claims eight hours of active use on a battery charge which is enough for a full day of selling.
The Jelly Bean
Android 4.1, aka Jelly Bean, is great for its browser experience. It runs Chrome which allows for smooth switching between active browser tabs and full integration with Google services. You would be running Openbravo most of the time while interacting with customers but little sidesteps to the back-office, product comparisons or even the competitor´s site will be easy. Also, staff can access other non-Openbravo internal business applications without having to find a back-office desktop computer. Having a quick meeting with other store staff via Google+ Hangouts also sounds very useful. Another nice feature is speech-to-text so you can find products by talking to the tablet, even in offline mode.
The Nexus 7 is cheap: 199 USD. This is a lot cheaper than the iPad (starting price 499 USD) and cheaper than most Android tablets in the market, apart from some cheap makes with low specs. The additional cost of adding a few more Nexus 7 tablets to extra staff on the shopfloor on busier days are peanuts compared to losing customers because of long waits for check-out lines or bad customer experiences. Mind you, your sales staff just needs a tablet and point their browser to the Openbravo Web POS instance in the cloud (or your server on-site). No installs, no maintenance, no risk, highly scalable. You could even let them bring their own tablets.
There is none. Well, there is maybe one. I have to be frank with you: I did not try Openbravo Web POS on the Nexus 7 hands-on yet. Based in Barcelona Spain, I have to wait for one of my US colleagues to bring one over. I will keep you posted on our hardware experiences.
I finally got my hands on the Nexus 7 and it is indeed a wonderful device. However, there is one big BUT that I did not anticipate, which is the lack of a full-screen browser view mode for Chrome on Android. The standard browser that is used in Android 4.0 (and lower) has a full-screen mode but with Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) Chrome is the standard and only browser. This said, it is expected that full screen browsing is coming soon to Chrome for Android. Until then, I do not recommend the Nexus 7 for Openbravo Web POS yet. It works fine technically but the tabs, address and navigation toolbars take away too much of the available screen space, which is far from ideal. I apologize for the confusion I may have caused with my original post. Find recommended and tested tablets in the retail documentation.
Friday, June 29, 2012