Google is starting to push companies and their employees to use Android smartphones while at work - a place that is overwhelming dominated by iPhone and BlackBerry users.
Android is often widely panned as not being secure enough, but Google's Android OEM partners have attempted to address that issue by partnering with and adding the Samsung Knox security software to their mobile devices. Google is taking things in-house though by unleashing a program dubbed Android for Work. The company unveiled it last June at the I/O developer conference, and now it's officially launching the program.
Android for Work features the following components: Work profiles, Android for work app, Google Play for Work, and built-in productivity tools. Work profiles are encrypted and basically bring multi-user support to Android 5.0, Lollipop, allowing users to create a dedicated work profile that isolates and protects work data, while the Android for Work app is for older devices that don't run Lollipop or support work profiles natively.
The app allows for secure mail, calendar, contacts, documents, browsing, and access to approved work apps. Like Android for Work, it can be completely managed by IT. As for Google Play for Work, it allows businesses to securely manage apps across all users running Android for Work. And finally, the productivity tools are just suite of business apps that brings secure email, contacts, calendar, document editing, etc.
Google is likely hoping Android for Work will help businesses get over fears about Android’s security, while also help it to better compete with BlackBerry and Apple. After all, Apple and IBM announced just last year that they wanted to transform the enterprise market as well. IBM said it would wield its expertise in big data and analytics, while Apple would offer its design chops and user experience of the iPhone and iPad.
The partnership was considered an interesting move for Apple, which has long catered to consumers over business and enterprise. The Android for Work program is similar only in that it could help Google to finally tackle the same space. Keep in mind that Android devices are made by many manufacturers, and each manufacturer uses a different version of Android, so it's harder for businesses to manage them.
For more information about the new Android for Work controls, as well as which partners are initially a part of the program, visit Google's new Android for Work page.