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Google gets down to business with Android Work, Cloud Drive for Work

Al Sacco | June 27, 2014
Yesterday's marathon Google I/O developer conference keynote, which lasted nearly two and a half hours, surprisingly dedicated a significant chunk of time -- by Google standards, at least -- to new enterprise features and enhancements in Android and other Google products. It was a notable departure from past I/O conferences, when Google mostly glanced over any enterprise-related news.

Yesterday's marathon Google I/O developer conference keynote, which lasted nearly two and a half hours, surprisingly dedicated a significant chunk of time — by Google standards, at least — to new enterprise features and enhancements in Android and other Google products. It was a notable departure from past I/O conferences, when Google mostly glanced over any enterprise-related news.

The shift toward business at the event made sense; according to Google, 41 percent of the developers in attendance work for "a company that develops B2B apps." (More than 6,000 people attended the keynote, but it's unclear how many were developers.)

If you have more than two hours to burn, you can watch the full keynote. If you're only interested in the most relevant enterprise news from Google I/O 2014, read on.

Android Work: Separate Business and Personal Data

Google's single most notable enterprise-related announcement from I/O 2014 is Android Work, a component of its upcoming mobile OS that brings a new set of native mobile device management (MDM) features and IT controls to Android. For the next version of Android, Google has integrated key security features from Samsung's KNOX offering into native Android. This means many of the security features built into Samsung's fleet of Android devices will be available in all future Android smartphones and tablets.

Android Work features include a new Device Policy Client (DPC) that lets IT create multiple profiles on a single device; this separates sensitive corporate data from personal data. The feature is common today — BlackBerry built it directly into its mobile OS in the form of the BlackBerry Balance service, which was first announced in 2011, and Samsung's KNOX lets IT create separate "personas" for work and personal on Samsung Android device — but Android Work brings the functionality to all Android devices.

Android Work gives IT new controls for app distribution within Google Play. For example, businesses can use Google Play to bulk distribute apps to everyone in a company, a specific group of users or to individuals. Google Play will also offer bulk purchasing and licensing options for enterprises. Apps sent to the work profile have an Android Work suitcase logo, so users can easily tell which apps are work apps. Once applications are deployed, IT can use a security policy to manually adjust in-app settings to remove or restrict certain functionality.

As part of Android Work, Google is also opening up new Android APIs that are designed to let enterprise mobility management (EMM) vendors integrate their products with the latest version of Android and build new Android-specific security features.

Google says the first devices that support Android Work will be available later this year.

 

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