Android for Work shapes up with new enterprise program launch

Google is partnering with a number of tech giants, from device makers to network infrastructure providers to management app makers to launch the Android for Work platform.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Following up Inbox's expansion for corporate users earlier this week, Android for Work is moving back into the spotlight.


Despite more than one billion Android smartphones in circulation worldwide, smartphones and tablets are "underutilized in the workplace," lamented Rajen Sheth, director for product management of Android and Chrome for Work, in a blog post on Wednesday.

Android certainly has a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) presence on its own, with other mobile device management (MDM) platforms already being widely deployed, such as Samsung Knox or VMware-owned AirWatch.

Now Google is going further on its own while still touting its Android ecosystem and partner community through an Android for Work program unveiled on Wednesday.

For the best of both worlds on a single device, Android for Work can be utilized to establish "work profiles" on a smartphone or tablet.

IT departments can deploy and manage approved apps to these profiles, securing them through default encryption, enhanced SELinux security enforcement and multi-user support baked into Android 5.0, a.k.a. Lollipop.

Employees can continue to use their own personal apps and profiles with the promise that their employers can only manage work data but not view or erase personal content.

To encourage productivity even further, Google has built in a suite of business apps for email, contacts and calendar, supporting Microsoft Exchange as well as Notes for editing capabilities on documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

At the moment, Google is partnering with a number of other tech giants, from device makers to network infrastructure providers to management software and app makers to launch Android for Work. Among them include Cisco, Salesforce.com, Box, and SAP as well as dozens of other familiar brands.

Google is courting software developers with a more streamlined approach to enterprise app development, touting they only have to create a single version of any Google Play app, which can then be deployed to any Android device without alterations. Developers can also establish standard management configurations for IT policies on each app.

Android for Work started to take a firmer shape at Google's annual developer summit I/O last June as the Internet giant started to blur the lines between its mobile platform and other cornerstone OS, Chrome.

Android Work for Android 5.0 (Lollipop) was designed to help IT administrators publish work apps on Google Play while also limiting access to users in a designated organization.

In November, Google took the next step by following up on its springtime acquisition of enterprise BYOD startup Divide.

Founded in 2010 by former Morgan Stanley mobile IT executives, Divide offered a service touted to both comply with corporate BYOD policies without compromising individual employee privacy and freedom with said devices.

Google took Divide on a new direction by placing it under a special "IT Preview" program in which the device running the app must first be enrolled in specific enterprise MDM platforms.

To access Divide Productivity Preview, users needed to sign up for the invite-only Android IT Preview Program, then already supported by many of those now under the Android for Work umbrella, such as VMware, Citrix, IBM and MobileIron, among others.

All Android for Work capabilities will be delivered through enterprise mobile management partners. More providers are expected to be announced soon.

Image via Google

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