Android has steadily gained popularity in recent years and has made inroads in an enterprise environment. It is thus critical for every business to identify personal devices used for business purposes, equip them with layers of security, and ensure consistent deployment, updates, and management in a scalable manner.
Google launched Android Enterprise Recommended (AER) in 2018, to recommend select smartphones, rugged devices, and tablets. To be included in the AER list, a device must meet specialized hardware, software, and management criteria.
Android has become extremely popular with customers, thus making headway into work too. IDC forecasts Android market share to hover around 85 percent.
Google made a strategic decision to make Android effective for business, making it easier to manage and provide layers of security.
Also, the market is saturated with a variety of smartphone manufacturers and adoption rates are unreliable for Android versions. So, Google aims to provide a list of up-to-date smartphones with the latest patches, management features and security updates.
Let’s look at a few facts first:
1.Device Choice is Simplified
Google ensures that the devices need to meet specific standards to make it to its curated list. Few of the key requirements are – the device has to be available unlocked, must receive major Android OS update, should be able to enroll through zero-touch or a QR code. Google AER standardization enables the companies to make the right choice and find the right-fit mobile devices and be assured of the quality aspects.
Google’s AER aims to simplify and reduce management efforts for device provisioning and deployment.
All Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) can use a single set of APIs for a secure and unified management. This also ensures that all the devices function in a reliable, reproducible manner. Organizations can leverage G Suite or Google Play accounts for seamless, fully automated, user-agnostic account management without admin intervention or having to worry about data leakage because of Google device backup services.
Zero-touch enrollment enables large scale Android device deployment, installation, and set-up.
Managing applications for pushing updates, pre or re-configuring apps, app installation, permission management at the admin level, and the capability to block or install applications according to security policy can customize a secure application ecosystem for an organization.
Google mandates security updates within 90 days and thus aligns device security in a consistent and regular manner, and even older Android versions are well protected.
Google Play Protect security tools are pre-installed on the certified devices, which enables device monitoring and continuously scans for threats locally to safeguard the device.
AER creates an enterprise work profile on the device, which is fully owned, controlled, and visible to the organization. Administrators can only see and manage applications and settings of the work profile on the enrolled device, thereby maintaining user privacy and enforcing user control on personal data.
5.Reduced Fragmentation and Improved Consistency
Most organizations have devices manufactured by different OEMs, which may have different implementations of certain capabilities, which has led to Android version fragmentation, as well as, device management fragmentation. This leads to inconsistent management across devices, unsupported functionalities on various devices, etc.
Google depreciated device specific administration APIs to give way to Android Enterprise Recommended program. Though OEMs can still add their own specific features, the administrator and end-user experience will be consistent across a broad range of devices.
6.Rugged Device Support
AER has also expanded to the rugged device space, to enlist devices with special hardware features, the capability of mass enrollment and extending support to older devices with security updates. Android is set to become the largest rugged OS shipment, according to an IDC report, making this feature an important enhancement of the AER program.
In a mobile-first world, employees are increasingly turning to personal devices as they offer the flexibility to work on-the-go, and even from remote locations. Personal devices make employees more efficient and help them stay connected 24/7 but when these devices need to be used in a corporate setting, it becomes crucial to scrutinize them. Android Enterprise Recommended offers the much-needed standardization, security, and quality assurance for devices used for business purposes. It also brings together various vendors to deliver common features for enterprise mobility management and support customized features in their bouquet of services. For the administrators it offers simplified management and centralized control abilities, while end-users can enjoy a flexible work environment with a clear separation between work and personal data. As Android continues to evolve, so will the AER program and is expected to be adopted by many enterprises.
Vandita is a passionate writer and IT enthusiast. By profession, she is a Computer Lecturer at the University of Delhi and has previously worked as a Software Engineer with Aricent Technologies.