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I'm employed at a mobile app development company since 4 months as Android developer. Currently I'm using my two private Android devices for development. Is it common practice that developers use their own hardware devices for development in mobile development companies, or should I ask for company devices?

  • 3
    BANG! your device is broken. Now what???? – Reactgular Oct 16 '13 at 0:28
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    BANG! your device had malware on it and now several million dollars of company equipment are irrecoverably infected. – World Engineer Oct 16 '13 at 0:29
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The answer greatly depends upon the legal jurisdiction you live within.

But let's take the easy considerations first. As brought up in the comments: what happens when your device breaks or your device injects malware into your team's development stream?

So then you need to ask:

  • Who pays to fix your device?
  • Who is responsible to replace your device if you turn it into a brick as part of the development activities?
  • Who detects that your device is running some malware that has managed to adulterate the application you're distributing? Who is responsible for fixing all of that?
  • How do you handle all-night load testing when you need to go home and take your phone with you?
  • Who pays for the data usage on your phone?

BYOD starts looking ugly in cases like those.

But wait, it gets worse.

Your employer is generally expected to provide the resources you need for you to do your job. That help enables their claim to own the work that you produce.

When you use your equipment to develop for both your employer and your own personal projects, how do you draw the line as to what portions of your time were spent on what projects? It matters because in the absence of detailed time logs, courts rely upon the resources that were used as part of the work. Using your employer's resources enables your employer to say the development was done on their time and resource. So they have a cleaner claim to owning the work you create.

But that's just a generality and each significant legal jurisdiction has nuances upon that generality. So your particular predicament will be answered by local, legal norms.

A strong intellectual property agreement can help with some of those concerns, but the companies that "expect" developers to bring devices generally don't have strong IP agreements in place.

In general, it's a bad idea.

For the company, the potential claims against intellectual property ownership are significant. For the developer, it's a bad idea - loaded with negatives and providing minimal direct benefits.

  • "Your employer is generally expected to provide the resources you need for you to do your job. That help enables their claim to own the work that you produce. " Except ever more companies have clauses in their contracts stating that the employee is required to have certain items like a cellphone and a laptop. The company may reimburse the employee for his use of those for work purposes, but often that's assumed to be part of the salary. – jwenting Aug 26 '15 at 6:13
  • Usually when you develop for mobile you need to test it on many different phones. I don't believe the employer can require the employee to have several mobile devices? – hequ Aug 26 '15 at 6:40
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I've encountered both scenarios. Previous company I worked we had a number of company devices but people also used their own in addition to that (AFTER the tests on the company devices showed the apps weren't going to cause mayhem, those private devices were mostly used to allow testing on more different screen sizes, OS versions, and hardware configurations).

Current environment I work in testing on personal devices is all but impossible because of access restrictions to the network. For a device to access the network at all it needs special software installed AND needs to be whitelisted at hardware level by the security department, which is just not going to be allowed for devices not owned by the organisation.
At most the user acceptance environment might be accessible for some apps (those that would be accessible to the general public after the system goes life) but that's it.

In general I'd be wary of using my personal devices to test software developed for a customer or employer, especially if I'm not one of the key coders on the project and can be fairly certain the app isn't going to do anything irreversible to my device. And that's before taking any legal problems into account, which are out of my field of expertise but may well exist.

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