Google tries to make upcoming Android OS more enterprise-friendly with new features

Google tries to make upcoming Android OS more enterprise-friendly with new features
Photo Credit: Pixabay
23 May, 2018

Internet giant Google has said it is adding enterprise-friendly features to the beta version of its upcoming mobile operating system Android P. The features, it said, will offer additional security, seamless transition between work and personal use, as well as flexibility for businesses using devices in dedicated-use scenarios.

Explaining the new features, Eric Sandness, a software engineer at Google, said that the new operating system improves the look and performance of the work apps, which now have a dedicated tab in the app launcher. He added that the work apps also have an updated blue briefcase badge that better matches Android’s modern design patterns.

"While we want to make it easier to get to your work apps, we also think it’s important for your phone to help you disconnect when you’re away from work. So in Android P, we added a switch to turn off work mode right inside the work tab. This disables the work apps, notifications and data usage," he explained.

Also, he said Android P allows for smooth transition as developers can now enable seamless switching between work and personal accounts within their apps, removing the need to return to the app launcher. (Many productivity apps are used with both a work and personal account.) Google Tasks, he said, already supports this feature today, with support in other Google apps coming soon.

Keeping in mind the needs of mobile data management and BYOD (bring your own device), Sandness said that the new operating system will also support devices shared by multiple users. With this, shift workers who hand off a device at the end of the day can simply sign out, and the new team member can log in and use the device.

Android P also offers more flexibility in kiosk mode, under which a kiosk app replaces the default Home Screen or Launcher and restricts user access to only one app or a few allowed apps. Previously, the IT administrator was restricted to locking only one app to a device. Now, thanks to flexibility offered in Android P, the administrator can lock multiple apps and quickly switch between them with a dedicated launcher. A restaurant could take your order from a menu, and then switch over to a payment terminal app to complete the transaction.

This new kiosk mode also lets enterprises limit access to device options, such as mobile connectivity or the settings menu, while still allowing users to get notifications and interact with a defined set of apps, he explained.

Sandness also said that the new features include a bunch of security features. Some include the ability for IT administrators to require different PINs and timeout rules for personal and work profiles, additional policies that can prevent data sharing across work and personal profiles, and new application programming interfaces that work with keys and certificates to securely identify devices accessing corporate resources.

Currently, the beta version of Android P is available for testing on devices such as the Google Pixel, Sony Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, Nokia 7 Plus, Oppo R15 Pro, Vivo X21, OnePlus 6, and Essential PH 1.