Nearly all of our readers use a smart device for field use to include ballistics computation and navigation. If you fit that mold, it’s important for you to know that changes in the Android operating system may not support the Apps that you’ve come to know and trust, so don’t get rid of that older device before you ask all of the right questions.
For example, beginning with Android 4.4, Google has removed an app’s write privileges to your external SD card. The implications are insidious and not understood by sales people or the consumers. So, here’s what it means.
Removing write app privileges to the external SD card means that all app data has to be stored in device memory which is undesirable for several reasons. First, it uses more of your internal device memory potentially impacting performance (it’s bad enough that you can’t delete 90% of the crap they install on the device).
Second, if you need to uninstall and reinstall the App, you can kiss app data, that you’ve painstakingly been collecting for years, goodbye! This forces you to use a cloud service to backup your data, and of course Google would prefer you use theirs. It’s a pretty underhanded way of generating incremental revenues by forcing your hand. Remember you paid for this smart device!
Another issue you need to be aware of is the elimination of magnetometers and accelerometers in devices running Android 4.4 and higher. Elimination of these sensors due to Android constraints will prevent you from using compass apps or any navigation application that supplies magnetic bearings or needs magnetic information. One example is a ballistic application that needs direction of fire. No magnetometer means no azimuth data.
If you have something that is working well for you now, don’t upgrade because you may obsolete yourself out of business. You’re much better off keeping your older phone and tablet.