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Android 2.2: Ready For Enterprise?

Google is touting its new mobile platform's business-friendly features, but licensing Microsoft's ActiveSync may not offer enough security to make Android ready to work in the enterprise.

Google's Nexus One is among the first phones slated for an upgrade to Android 2.2.
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Android 2.2 Froyo arrived with much fanfare on May 20 at Google's I/O conference. The new platform software for smartphones is chock full of new features, such as tethering and Wi-Fi hotspot services, faster performance, and Flash 10.1. To add enterprise features, Google licensed Microsoft's ActiveSync technology.

Enterprise Features

When it comes to new enterprise features, the official list for Android 2.2 is relatively short.

First, Android now has a device policy manager. Google says the new device policy management APIs allow developers to write "device administrator" applications that can control security features of the device. Users can select the administrators that are enabled on their devices.

Second, Android 2.2 includes much better password support and improved security. Exchange administrators can enforce password policies, which now include numeric pin or alpha-numeric password options to unlock the device. Remote wipe is the other big one. Exchange administrators can remotely reset the device to factory defaults to secure data in case the device is lost or stolen.

Third, Android 2.2 has better feature support for end users. For example, Exchange Calendars are now supported, which syncs enterprise calendar data with the devices. The auto-discovery tool lets people simply enter their username and password to set up and sync an Exchange account (available for Exchange 2007 and higher).

Android 2.2 also adds global address lists. This means users can search through their corporate directory from within the handset's e-mail application, which includes the auto-complete function of recipient names.

Prior to Android 2.2, some vendors (such as HTC) had offered a handful of these features in third-party e-mail programs. Now, the entire Android community has access to the same enterprise features.

It's "At Least Usable"

Gartner has two minimum requirements for any mobile platform for it to meet enterprise acceptance: the ability to remotely wipe the device and the ability to set complex passwords.

"It appears from what they've announced that Android 2.2 is ready for the enterprise," said Ken Dulaney, VP of mobile computing with Gartner. "We typically take a deep look to make sure there are no surprises hiding under a stone anywhere, but Android now meets the requirements through Exchange ActiveSync. That's what sealed the deal."

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