Android For Work Brings Google To The Office - InformationWeek

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2/25/2015
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Android For Work Brings Google To The Office

The company aims to make Android better suited to the demands of businesses.

8 iOS, Android Apps That Are Strangely Useful
8 iOS, Android Apps That Are Strangely Useful
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Google on Wednesday introduced Android for Work, a program designed to make its mobile operating system better suited to the requirements of businesses.

The goal of Android for Work is to help employees bring Android devices into the workplace, to help companies manage those devices, and to use mobility to make business processes more efficient, said Rajen Sheth, director of product management for Android and Chrome for business and education, at a press event in Google's San Francisco office. The company announced the program at its 2014 Google I/O developer conference and now has its technology and partner ecosystem ready. 

For business use, Android's advantage over other operating systems is faster innovation and greater choice, Sheth said. "One size doesn't fit all in the workplace," he said. "The device you give your CEO is not the same as the one you put on the shop floor."

Google's competition here is Apple's iPhone and iPad, which remain popular with individuals and with companies that manage mobile devices. Good Technology, which sells enterprise mobility management vendor, said that among its customers iOS device activations increased from 67% to 69% of all activations between Q2 and Q3 2014, while Android device activations slipped from 32% from 29%.

Android, however, leads in recent unit sales, with 76.6% of smartphone sales in Q4 2014, according to IDC, compared to 19.7% for iOS.

(Image: Google)

(Image: Google)

Android For Work's Four Components

The first of Android For Work's four components is work profiles, which amount to separate user accounts for work and personal activity. Work profiles rely on Android 5.0 Lollipop features such as encryption by default, enhanced SELinux security, and multi-user support to keep work data separate and secure. These features let IT administrators deploy and manage approved work apps without being able to affect personal apps.

Android for Work complements existing enterprise technologies for Android such as Samsung's KNOX, which implements additional security functionality like Trusted Boot, Secure Boot, and enhanced TIMA (TrustZone-based Integrity Measurement Architecture).

[ Read about how Google is getting into mobile payments. ]

The second component is the Android for Work app, which provides older devices (Ice Cream Sandwich through Kitkat) most of the functionality built into Android 5.0 Lollipop. While the Android for Work app doesn't allow users to split their work and personal profiles the way Android 5.0 does, it looks the same to enterprise mobility management services and can be managed accordingly.

The Android for Work app may convince some Android users it's worth upgrading, something they seem reluctant to do. Presently, only 1.6% of Android devices are running Android 5.0. Apple's latest operating system, iOS 8, is now used on 73% of iOS devices.

Third, Google is offering a store for Android business applications, Google Play for Work. The store allows business IT administrators to deploy applications to managed devices and provides a venue for companies to distribute apps with enterprise-oriented APIs.

Fourth, Google has created a set of distinct business apps -- Work Email, Work Contacts, Work Calendar, and Work Tasks -- for email, contacts, and scheduling that supports both Exchange and Notes. The apps can pull in Gmail account messages if desired, but Google assumes most people will just use the Gmail app directly for that. The company also has apps that provide editing for documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.

Along with these technological pillars, Google has partnered with a variety of companies that are providing hardware, software, and services to enhance enterprise mobility. These include Adobe, Box, BlackBerry, Dell, Citrix, HP Motorola, SAP, Salesforce, Sony, and Samsung, among others.

(Image: Google)

(Image: Google)

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Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio

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batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
4/1/2015 | 2:57:06 PM
Re: Another Project from Google
it could be also becouse they do try to hire best... plus Google hove money to spend... how I see it...
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
3/6/2015 | 12:57:25 AM
Re: Another Project from Google
I think one of the reasons why we see that google is right most of the time because they probe in every direction and more chances they will take more will be the probability of success. And their success gets more hype than their failures.
batye
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50%
batye,
User Rank: Ninja
3/2/2015 | 12:38:15 AM
Re: Another Project from Google
@nomii not always, but most of the time Google in the past did it right... but who knows the future....???
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
2/27/2015 | 2:06:12 AM
Re: Another Project from Google
You are right SunitaT0, windows is still the best single solution as a workstation and Microsoft is doing well to be the only one providing such service by continuously improving and keeping that market share. Their new windows might have failed but it has given MS a base line to not only secure their current market share but also making it tough for their competitors.
nomii
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50%
nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
2/27/2015 | 1:56:25 AM
Re: Another Project from Google
@Nemos: I think Google is using its investment and time smartly, they have all the things on their portfolio to attract a user but at the same time they are focusing their budget on the new initiative and project which will increase their portfolio. But the main focus will only remain on those ventures which are popular among their users or high return is expected.
SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
2/26/2015 | 9:27:17 PM
Re: Another Project from Google
@jagibbons: True. Google has dodged a lot of bullets in the past 2 years or so, like the court orders imposed on google for the illusion of privacy it provides for its gmail users? Google already stepped on a landmine there but it didn't show up with people, they continued to buy its products regardless of the infamy Google generated due to the court order. This only goes on to prove that without stepping on a substantial landmine that can trigger other landmines, google isn't going down on that loss-margin path anytime soon.
SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
2/26/2015 | 9:23:38 PM
Re: Another Project from Google
If you need a single workstation like feature then maybe you should start looking to microsoft and Windows 10. Android on the other hand has some methodologies that need improving. The cast screen on android is a good office tool while giving presentations and it has even better use in Windows.
SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
2/26/2015 | 9:20:46 PM
Re: Competition is good
I really like the work focused system and how most of the apps have access to the same data but only show the ones you need. I hope this experience would be better once most of the android products start running on lollipop.
asksqn
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asksqn,
User Rank: Ninja
2/26/2015 | 6:34:43 PM
Competition is good
While I am not happy with Google's ever tightening lockdown on Android, For Work is a welcome change, especially given the chokehold the iGarbage products have on the market. 
jagibbons
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50%
jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
2/26/2015 | 5:55:31 PM
Re: Another Project from Google
Sometimes there are trade-offs for free products and services. If the free solution is slow to address security, you might decide to pay for something safer. It's a risk-based investment decision.
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