Today's big news is obviously the release of Froyo (Google Android 2.2) that will be coming soon to existing and new smartphones. While I have seen many business people bringing iPhones to the workplace, it seems that Google Android adoption is still limited. The Motorola DROID appeals to many because of its QWERTY keyboard and the DROID Incredible's specifications and official USB tethering make Android an attractive option. However, when your IT hears that you want to use an open Google Android device on the network they may balk because it doesn't sound secure. The latest Android 2.2 update may be a point update, but it has some significant improvements in performance and in enterprise capabilities.
The Android developers blog posted five areas of this latest update they wanted to highlight and one was focused on new enterprise capabilities. Here are some of those improvements:
- Improved security with the addition of numeric pin or alpha-numeric password options to unlock device. Exchange administrators can enforce password policy across devices.
- Remote wipe: Exchange administrators can remotely reset the device to factory defaults to secure data in case device is lost or stolen.
- Exchange Calendars are now supported in the Calendar application.
- Auto-discovery: you just need to know your user-name and password to easily set up and sync an Exchange account (available for Exchange 2007 and higher).
- Global Address Lists look-up is now available in the Email application, enabling users to auto-complete recipient names from the directory.
- Portable WiFi hotspot: Certain devices like the Nexus One can be turned into a portable Wi-Fi hotspot that can be shared with up to 8 devices.
You have been able to get Calendar sync if you had an HTC Sense device, but it is nice to see it now come to the default OS since many like to have a Google device that gets faster updates and not be too overwhelmed with Sense UI features. Contacts sync with Exchange and Exchange email were added in Android 2.0 so Calendar was the last of the big three (email, contacts, and calendard) missing from Exchange sync. There is still no Task sync capability though.
Device policy management is a big deal to companies as well since it gives your IT department some security control over devices accessing the network. With the explosion of Android devices in the market and every carrier now offering at least one Android device it will be interesting if Android becomes the new Windows Mobile of the business world. RIM still seems to lead in the enterprise market, but with updates like this Android becomes more and more attractive to the prosumer bringing their own device to the workplace.