Android For Work Reports For Office Duty - InformationWeek

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4/17/2015
11:06 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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Android For Work Reports For Office Duty

Through Android For Work, Google has made its mobile device management tool for Android smartphones available to businesses, offering IT teams the control they want and the security they need.

Android, iOS, Windows Phone: What's Best For BYOD?
Android, iOS, Windows Phone: What's Best For BYOD?
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Google has officially released its Android for Work tool to businesses through the Google Play Store this week. The app, in conjunction with Google's Android for Work partners, will give IT more control over Android devices while providing end-users with more protection for their personal data.

Google announced Android for Work in February. The basic pitch is that it makes Android devices more appealing to enterprise users, many of whom have moved from BlackBerries to iPhones. It handles productivity and business apps, while also segregating work from personal data in a way that makes sense for companies and their employees.

Android for Work is aimed solely at devices running Android versions 4.4 KitKat and lower -- it doesn't support Android 5.0 Lollipop.

Moreover, Android for Work must be enabled and administered through an enterprise mobility management solution. Google's MDM launch partners include AirWatch, BlackBerry, Citrix, Google Apps for Work, MaaS 360 (IBM), Mobile Iron, SAP, and Soti. Without these, Android for Work won't work.

(Image: Google)

(Image: Google)

The solution has four key features: Work Profiles, Android for Work app, Google Play for Work, and Productivity Apps.

The Work Profiles feature sandboxes corporate information and creates a wholly separate space in which employees work. At the same time, it allows people to use their personal apps, and gives them the peace of mind that comes from knowing that their employer can't view or erase their content.

The Android for Work app delivers secure email, calendar, contacts, documents, and browsing. It serves as the gateway through which IT approves work-related activity. It's best to think of Google Play for Work as an app store for enterprise apps. Companies can deploy and manage apps through Google Play for Work securely, and can approve only select apps.

Last, Google's productivity apps are on board, including Docs, Sheets, and Presentations, in addition to support for Exchange.

"With full policy enforcement, control over app distribution, and remote wiping of all business data, IT admins can manage the Android for Work app through partner management solutions," according to Google.

Google recently updated its productivity apps across the board for Android and iOS devices.

Some examples:

  • Google Drive's latest feature lets people share photos right from the notification panel.
  • Docs is better at collaboration, because Google made it easier for users to accept, reject, or comment on edits and suggestions from mobile devices. It now better supports version tracking, too.
  • Spreadsheet creators can now move, resize, and delete charts, and reorder objects in the Sheets app.
  • Google's PowerPoint clone now works better with Microsoft's files, which both load and scroll faster.
  • Last, Google updated its Chrome browser with new gestures for refreshing Web sites and opening and closing new tabs.

These updates will become available from the Google Play Store over the next few days, according to Google.

[Read about Office 365's MDM capabilities.]

With Android for Work and an updated productivity suite available, it's time to get to work with your Android device.

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Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio
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Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
4/17/2015 | 3:48:51 PM
Re: A right step forward
Google needs to provide a way to assess the various Android security options. Between Knox, Android for Work, and various third-party security apps, it's difficult to know what's redundant.
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