Google Gets Into the Weeds of Android Work

On June 27th, 2014, posted in: News & Events by Comments Off

Computerworld

Google revealed more about how its new enterprise security and management framework — otherwise known as Android Work — will function in a seven-minute video the company posted during its Google I/O conference this week.

The video details how an Android smartphone can be set up to function for both work and personal uses under the next generation of Android, dubbed simply Android L and due out sometime this fall. At the same time, new devices from various Android manufacturers will appear that support the L version along with Android Work.

Developers are now getting access to a preview version of L, along with some glimpses of Android Work with a sample “Device Policy Client” app for use by IT admins that will come with the new OS.

During the I/O keynote on Wednesday, Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president of Android, Chrome and applications, said Android devices will be able to partition personal data and apps from work data and apps.

“No one wants to carry two phones,” Pichai said. “With L, there will be a whole set of API’s (application programming interfaces) to unify both experiences for a user, one for personal and another for corporate. That’s full enterprise security.”

Apps for workplace use will be sold through the Google Play store and can be purchased by enterprises in bulk, he added.

The announcement of the Android Work framework pleasantly surprised analysts who have dinged Google over the years for insufficient enterprise-grade security.

“Android Work is an improvement because Android typically gets knocks for being a security risk, simply because it’s an open platform in many ways and because of all the apps you can bring to an Android device,” said Ramon Llamas, an analyst at IDC. “So it’s been a risk for a lot of folks. …Whatever Google can do to beef up that security, that’s good.”

Still, Llamas warned, “one silver bullet won’t do it all and it will take a myriad of improvements. You almost need a security platform of security platforms.”

The idea of partitioning work and personal data and apps was used in BlackBerry smartphones as early as the Z10 smartphone introduced in early 2013. Since then, BlackBerry’s impact on the smartphone market has nearly disappeared and other smartphone platforms have adopted the partitioning concept. Those include Samsung Galaxy smartphones running Android along with an enterprise management and security framework called Knox.

Pichai publicly thanked Samsung for contributing Knox capabilities to Android Work and all of Android. Google in May also acquired Divide, an enterprise software firm focused on companies wrestling with the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) tidal wave.

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