Google with its innovative initiatives has always been working towards making Android appealing to businesses and the introduction of Android Enterprise proved this. Google announced the introduction of OEMConfig at the Android Enterprise Summit 2018 and this has brought one of the most crucial changes in Android Device Management by fastening the time-to-market speed of some really powerful OEM specific device management capabilities. Let’s start from the beginning coz’ to understand the significance of OEMConfig, you first need to know what the scene was like before it came to the picture!
Before the inception of Android Enterprise
Before the inception of Android Enterprise, the Android device management environment was pretty unpredictable and fragmented with Android 2.2 Device Administrator, as there was no standardization of APIs and protocol, as compared with Apple. Android Device Administrator feature could only offer certain configurations and management capabilities and there was a huge scope for more enterprise-grade features for enhanced and granular control. This made the OEMs develop their own management strategies and additional features for devices and hence they started their own SDKs (Software Development Kit) and management APIs (application programming interface) in addition to what Android was already offering.
The OEM-EMM (Enterprise Mobility Management) complications
Now, this created a new hassle for the EMM vendors who faced troubles providing these OEM-specific features due to the need for additional development efforts and lack of OEM specific partnerships/availability of SDKs, etc. All these have made it difficult for the EMM vendors to offer their customers with the advanced features on a timely basis.
Also, currently, enterprise mobility management (EMM) providers integrate different SDKs & APIs into their solution for each Android OEM to support their features. For example, an EMM provider needs to integrate Samsung KNOX and LG Gate SDKs into their solution to provide additional features for the respective vendors. This was one of the major hassles – to fully support all manufacturers’ features along with the absence of an OEM/EMM partnership programs with most of the major OEMs.
The Inception of Android Enterprise
There came a time when Android Enterprise was introduced in Android OS 5.0 along with a bunch of common device management capabilities, with an aim to mitigate this existing disconnection between EMM support and OEMs. Although Android Enterprise natively started offering multiple capabilities and features supporting varied management modes and different use cases, it could only half conquer the battle when it came to the elimination of the OEM-UEM fragmentation. Certain features like hardware/button configurations, OS updates, advanced wi-fi policies, granular settings control and some other specific ones were still needed by some purpose-built devices, and standard Android offering did not include these capabilities.
What is OEMConfig and How it works?
Enters OEMConfig. The much-needed application that brought in significant shift in providing consistent OEM level features and support. Working around the AppConfig community, OEMConfig is an application built by the OEM containing its APIs and hosted on Google Play. Organizations distribute the OEMConfig app to devices through EMM. The OEMConfig app supports AppConfig which allows organizations to configure the OEM settings while distributing the app itself. After the OEMConfig app is installed, it configures a device to support the specific features and settings of that OEM. Through OEMConfig, EMM vendors can support the advanced management capabilities developed by the OEMs into their devices. The OEMConfig app can be installed by an organization on the enrolled devices via its EMM solution.
Benefits of Android OEMConfig
To sum it all up, Android OEMConfig offers the following benefits to OEMs, Android EMM vendors, and customers:
- Mitigates the existing disintegration across OEMs
- Device settings can now be configured and implemented in a standardized way
- New features can be accessed without agent application upgrades
- EMM vendors need not worry anymore about supporting the OEM features
OEMs in the AppConfig community
This starts with the OEMs joining the AppConfig community to reflect their intention to support OEMConfig and this can be initiated when the OEMs develop and publish their OEMConfig apps. A group of OEM vendors united and collaborated to drive the AppConfig community to propel a common goal of simplifying Android enterprise app development and deployment based on standards offered by the OS vendors.
Their registration with the community makes their logos visible on the appconfig.org member page, which also enable OEMs to check out and approach the complete community of EMMs, ISVs (independent software vendor) and more.
So, what is OEMConfig for smaller OEMs? According to industry experts, smaller OEMs will benefit more from OEMConfig as they can make the most out of EMM that will be able to support a variety of Android devices. Device updates and EMM support are simplified by OEMConfig and this might inspire highly regular companies to adopt Android in business in a bigger way.