Android 5.1 tablets for Survey Solutions

User Bordalo Ramiro Mouzinho has sent us the following question:

we would like to know if Survey Solutions team would advise us to use … tablets with android 5.1 for this study, i.e., whether there is a possibility of any updates to Survey Solutions that would result in upgrade of minimal android requirement for the 3-4 months (as it happened in July 2019).

Survey Solutions Interviewer App remains compatible with devices with Android 5.0 and above, and this allows the users that started surveys 3-4 years ago still use the same equipment, but:

  1. Those devices are by now old, slow, and obsolete.
  2. They are unreliable - batteries that are 5-6 years old, if not dead are likely to have a much smaller charge, than nominal.
  3. Finding spare parts in case of need of repair will be a challenge.
  4. The device warranty may no longer apply.
  5. The OS is marked as unsupported - meaning any remaining bugs, and/or security vulnerabilities will not be fixed.

Some of these devices fail to recognize the modern security certificates, and require additional configuration, see relevant info here:

For the reasons outlined above, I would not advise considering such tablets when preparing for a new survey.

In practical terms, if the Survey Solutions minimal requirements for the Android tablets are changed, the users will get notified about this in the release notes. If the changes are motivated by the need to implement a particular feature and are planned by us, we will give an advance warning (couple of months), but if this is a security response, we might not have that luxury.

The situation in 2021 is different from 2019 in that now the users host the data servers themselves, and thus it is the server administrator that should evaluate whether it is desirable to install a new version (with a higher Android requirements), or remain with an earlier version depending on the pool of the tablets in use and the possibilities to upgrade them.