A customised over-the-air (OTA) software update feature played a critical part in Tesco launching its Hudl tablets on time, according to the retailer's strategic technology partner on the project.
Last year, Tesco launched Hudl, a 7 inch HD tablet that uses an Android operating system (OS) customised by mobile solutions provider Open Reply, part of the technology group Reply.
At the time of the device's launch, some of the applications on it were awaiting Google approval and not yet ready to go live. To ensure that the device could still go to market on time, Open Reply put placeholders for the incomplete app on the Hudl, and when customers connected the devices to the internet, an OTA update was sent to the device, which refreshed the app with a working, live version.
The developers began working with Tesco on Hudl in November 2012, and the device was officially launched in September 2013.
"If you think about a supply chain deadline, we identified a need to work on the apps whilst the manufacturing process was happening for the device. Part of the solution was to give them that ability to do that," said Julian Douch, associate partner responsible for mobile solutions at Reply.
"OTA gave them the flexibility to do that. Otherwise, they could have looked at a delay."
Open Reply designed, delivered, hosts and provides on-going management of the OTA update distribution system.
The system allows Tesco to keep the Hudl OS updated, with upgrades distributed and downloaded to the device via wifi.
"With a customer base as big as Tesco's and taking into account the Christmas season 'spikes' of new device activations, this exercise required careful planning and scoping," said Open Reply.
To bring out the Tesco branding on the Hudl tablet Reply carried out some customisation of the Android OS, which it said is done by very few manufacturers, due to complex knowledge required of the system.
The biggest element of this was the modification of the classic Android navigation bar to incorporate a Tesco-specific launcher button that provides one touch access to all of Tesco's online services.
Other customisations include the Hudl wallpaper, boot logo and sound.
Open Reply also created widgets to promote access to Tesco's online services, such as a Clubcard widget to give the loyalty card owners access to their points, and a Tesco Direct widget to link to the online shopping site.
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