Google's Nexus 9 tablet: More business friendly, but...

Google's Nexus 9 and the Android 5.0 that comes with it includes some business friendly security features as well as an interface that could make it a bring your own device play. There's a need for more tablet-first business apps though.

Google's Nexus 9 tablet adds key security features that will matter to businesses, material design to Gmail---personal and work should you use Google Apps---and the latest version of Android in a HTC hardware package that's solid.

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In a nutshell, the Nexus 9 could be seen as a bring your own device player in the enterprise because some workers will favor a pure crapware free version of Android and admins will have enough encryption and security features to sleep at night. 

CNET Review: Nexus 9 gets 4 out of 5 stars

ZDNet's Matthew Miller questions the pricing for the Nexus 9, but carriers are likely to subsidize it with contracts too. The Nexus 9 is available in 16GB or 32GB capacities. The 16GB Wi-Fi models are $399, the 32GB Wi-Fi models are $479, and the LTE model starts at $599. That pricing isn't going to thwart Apple's iPad momentum or Samsung's value equation for its Galaxy tablets, but it's not a stretch to see a CXO or IT leader lugging the Nexus 9 around.

To recap what Android 5.0 brings to the enterprise table:

  • Encryption is turned on automatically for new devices. The Nexus 9 arrived with encryption by default.
  • Android Smart Lock, which secures phones and tablets to be secured by bluetooth.
  • Multiple user support via Samsung's Knox integration.
  • Continuity between Android devices visually through Google's user experience as well as easy backup and synchronization between devices.
  • Accessories such as keyboards that can allow the Nexus 9 to double as a laptop in limited situations.
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But the biggest hurdle for the Nexus 9 in the enterprise is twofold: First, Samsung has given Android its Knox technology, but has surrounded its own hardware with services and features that'll matter more to corporations. And then there's the reality that Android tablet apps for business aren't plentiful. IT vendors design for iOS first---iPhone and iPad---then get to Android phones. Android tablets are an afterthought.

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You can see that Android-as-a-second-class-app-citizen reality in the Play store reviews for Salesforce and Workday. There are numerous complaints that the Android apps aren't anywhere near what the iOS ones are. In addition, most business apps on Google Play have a designed for phone description attached to them.

That reality is going to hamper any company that doesn't have its own proprietary apps in Android. Meanwhile, it's only going to get worse given that IBM and Apple are promising iOS analytics apps to join a parade that includes Salesforce, Workday and a bevy of others.

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The Nexus 9 and Android 5.0 Lollipop have made nice corporate strides and the new Gmail is sweet. But there's more work to do. Nevertheless, IT departments are likely to see a few Nexus devices around the office.

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