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Google Amplifies Android's Business Capabilities

Enhanced management features for Android devices should deepen the appeal of Google's mobile operating system for corporate use.

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Google on Thursday introduced three enterprise-oriented updates to make it easier to contact colleagues in one's company and to keep device data secure.

The company released version 2.0 of its Google Apps Device Policy app, which allows Google Apps administrators to set security policies for Android devices. The update lets employees locate lost or stolen mobile devices running Android 2.2 or greater on a map, a capability similar to that offered by Apple for recent iOS devices through its Find My iPhone app.

Android users also can, through the new My Devices website, ring a lost or stolen phone, lock a device remotely, or reset the device's PIN. The Google Apps Device Policy app and the My Devices website are available only to Google Apps Business and Education customers.

Google also is allowing Google Apps administrators to force encryption on managed Android devices. This will provide some peace of mind in the event a device is lost or stolen.

Finally, Google has released a new corporate contacts app called Google App Lookup. The app allows users to enter a name or email address of a colleague, via text or speech, and contact that individual via call, text message, IM, or email. To enable this capability, administrators need to select "Shared Contact" in the Google Apps control panel.

These new device management features expand capabilities introduced last October at Google Enterprise Day in Tokyo, which was when the Google Apps Device Policy app was first introduced. Beyond early versions of the data wiping and device locking features, the device management features launched last fall also included the ability to require a password, to set minimum password length, and to require both numbers and letters in passwords for added security.

Google says that it is activating more than 300,000 Android devices around the globe daily. Research firm Gartner predicts that by the year, Android will become the most popular operating system worldwide and will represent 49% of the smartphone market by 2012.

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