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    Android Device Owner Mode Explained

    Android is an operating system that evolves and transitions consistently. Almost every year there’s a new Android version launched. The journey began in 2009. Gathered widespread attention with the dessert naming convention. And now, Android 15 (codenamed Vanilla Ice Cream) is slated for release in 2024. Businesses that depend on Android devices have also had to adapt and keep pace with Android developments. One such aspect is Android Device Owner (DO) mode.

    Android Device Owner Mode
    Device Owner Mode on Android

    In this blog, we will bite our teeth into Android Device Owner mode and cover some of the nuances of mobile device management (MDM) surrounding it.

    How did Android Device Owner Mode Arrive?

    Launched in 2010 and till Android 4.0 KitKat, there was a feature named Device Admin that Google encouraged for enterprise device management. It didn’t set the world alight, mostly because, at that time, the use of Android in workplaces was a mere shadow of today. Google made the Device Admin feature available till Android 9 (codenamed Pie). In 2019, with the arrival of Android 10 (codenamed Quince Tart), the Device Admin feature was fully deprecated. 

    In September 2020, Google ceased certifying new Android MDM and EMM (Enterprise Mobility Management) Device Admin plugin apps. This decision was made in alignment with the evolving API level requirements, effectively preventing the distribution of any new solutions compatible with Device Admin on the Google Play Store beyond that date.

    What is Android Device Owner Mode?

    To stay in sync with the enterprise device management requirements of organizations, Google shook up things a bit in 2014. It launched Android Device Owner mode, a special mode introduced in Android 5.0 Lollipop that allows organizations to manage Android devices with advanced administrative capabilities. 

    Device Owner mode is specifically designed for enterprise or education settings where many devices must be managed centrally. When a device is set up as a device owner, it means that the organization has full control over the device and can enforce policies, install and remove apps, and configure settings remotely.

    Android device provisioning in device owner mode offers significantly heightened security measures like kiosk mode and remote lock/wipe. In Android device owner mode, the device ownership lies solely with the organizations’ IT admins. It serves as the gateway to establishing a truly robust Android Enterprise device provisioning system. 

    Key Features of Android Device Owner Mode

    Enabling DO mode on Android effectively stamps the device manager as admin, which in this case, is the IT personnel in charge of the organizational device fleet. In conjunction with an MDM solution, device owner mode offers several features in terms of Android device management or Android MDM. Most of these features revolve around fortifying device and data security while providing better device management agility to IT teams.

    Here’s what device owner mode lets IT admins do when enabled:

    • Personalize lock screen messages according to your preferences.
    • Turn off data roaming for enhanced control over mobile data usage.
    • Establish kiosk applications by selectively allowing essential organization-approved apps.
    • Execute remote device reboots for efficient troubleshooting and maintenance.
    • Implement specific configurations, including unlocking mechanisms, hardware controls, and factory resets.
    • Guarantee a secure network connection to safeguard sensitive data and communications.
    • Unify wireless network identification across diverse regions with a single network ID.
    • Expedite enrollment with swift options like Zero-touch enrollment and QR code enrollment.

    How to Enable Device Owner Mode?

    Enabling device owner mode on an Android device is typically done during the initial setup process and requires the involvement of your organization’s IT team. It’s a mode specifically designed for centrally managed devices in enterprises or educational settings.

    Here’s a general overview of the process for enabling device owner mode on Android devices:

    Requirements:

    • Your organization needs to be enrolled in the Android Enterprise program.
    • The device needs to be factory reset or completely new (for initial setup).
    • You might need a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution from your IT team.

    Enabling Methods (depending on Android version):

    • Android 5.0+: This method involves using Android Debug Bridge (ADB). It’s recommended for IT professionals familiar with ADB.
    • Android 6.0+: During the initial setup, when entering Google account credentials, you can provide a Device Policy Controller (DPC) identifier provided by your IT team.
    • Android 7.0+: On the welcome screen, you can tap it rapidly seven times to activate a QR code reader. Scan the QR code provided by your IT team to enroll the device.

    Importance of Android Device Owner Mode

    Android device owner mode offers a lot of flexibility to IT teams of organizations. The mode enables the application of lots of MDM features into enterprise devices. IT admins can use device owner mode on all device types—BYOD, COPE/WPCO, and COBO/COSU. 

    Here are some of the benefits of Android device owner mode, which make it important for IT admins with an MDM solution in their tech stacks. 

    Better Security

    Device owner mode provides a higher level of control and management than the regular device administrator mode. It offers organizations the ability to manage devices and remotely wipe them in case of loss or theft. This added security measure ensures sensitive data remains protected and inaccessible to unauthorized individuals. By having the power to wipe or lock a device remotely, organizations can mitigate the risk of data breaches and safeguard valuable information.

    Kiosk Mode

    Kiosk mode confines an Android device to a designated app (single app mode) or a predefined set of applications (multi-app mode), catering to end-use-based scenarios. This functionality proves beneficial for businesses employing digital signage, interactive displays, or specialized business applications, effectively blocking unauthorized access to other device functions. To apply kiosk mode to devices via an MDM dashboard, Android device owner mode is imperative.

    App Distribution & Patching

    In addition to enhanced security features, device owner mode allows seamless app distribution and OS patch updates. This means that organizations can easily distribute and update apps across multiple devices, ensuring all devices are updated with the latest software and security patches. This streamlined process of app distribution and OS updates saves time and effort for organizations, enabling them to manage their devices and maintain optimal performance efficiently.

    Policy Enforcement

    Android device owner mode offers the ability to create and enforce usage policies. Organizations can set restrictions on app usage, internet access, and device functionalities to ensure compliance with company guidelines. This level of control allows for a more secure and productive work environment, especially in industries where data privacy and confidentiality are paramount. By leveraging the power of device owner mode, organizations can establish a secure and efficient device management system that aligns with their specific needs and requirements.

    Monitoring Device Usage

    Furthermore, device owner mode enables organizations to track and monitor device usage. This feature provides valuable insights into how devices are being utilized, allowing organizations to optimize workflows and identify areas for improvement. By analyzing device usage data, organizations can make informed decisions regarding resource allocation and device provisioning. This data-driven approach to device management enhances overall IT productivity and ensures resources are allocated effectively.

    Device Configuration

    Device owner mode for Android allows organizations to monitor and update device configurations easily from an MDM console. This simplifies the process of deploying new policies or making changes to existing ones, ensuring all devices are consistently aligned with organizational guidelines. The centralized dashboard provides a user-friendly interface that enables organizations to manage and control their devices efficiently, minimizing the time and effort required for device management tasks.

    Remote Troubleshooting

    Moreover, device owner mode enables organizations to troubleshoot and resolve issues remotely. This feature minimizes downtime and maximizes productivity by allowing organizations to address device-related problems without the need for physical intervention. By remotely troubleshooting and resolving issues, organizations can ensure that their devices are always in optimal working condition, resulting in uninterrupted workflow and enhanced productivity.

    Scalefusion is an Android Enterprise Gold Partner. Read more

    Android Enterprise Meets Scalefusion with Device Owner Mode

    Android Enterprise Device Owner Mode empowers IT administrators to securely oversee diverse device types, including COPE, COBO, and BYOD. It offers a range of features such as customized lock screen messages, network settings control, app restrictions, and the implementation of a kiosk mode. These functionalities empower organizations to establish and enforce rules, ensuring efficient device management. 

    Zero-touch enrollment enhances flexibility and convenience in the device setup process. This mode contributes to stronger security and productivity across various industries, including education, corporate, healthcare, and logistics. Leveraging Android Enterprise alongside a reliable MDM solution like Scalefusion enables organizations to streamline device management processes and effectively protect sensitive data.

    Get in touch with our experts to learn how you can do more with Android Device Owner mode and Scalefusion. Start your 14-day free trial now!

    Abhinandan Ghosh
    Abhinandan Ghosh
    Abhinandan is a Senior Content Editor at Scalefusion who is an enthusiast of all things tech and loves culinary and musical expeditions. With more than a decade of experience, he believes in delivering consummate, insightful content to readers.

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