It seems like the larger tech companies are expanding constantly, as they attempt to get their fingers into every pie they possibly can. Security concerns have long been the reason that Android phones has been left by the wayside in the working world, but Google has finally taken steps to combat this with their release of Android for Work last year.
Android for Work is a viable alternative to carrying both a work and personal device (or even a dual-SIM phone), This article will help you find out more information about the service and see if it’s right for your needs.
What is Android for Work?
Just what is the Android for Work program, and what can it do for you?
Essentially, it’s a set of services that provide business profiles for personal Android devices, and you can expect stronger security features and native work apps to help to keep sensitive nature encrypted and secure. It should make it easier for businesses to adopt Android, and it allows users to bring their own devices to work.
If you’re used to using the Android UI, Android for Work should be handy, because it doesn’t really change the experience, and it’s easy enough to separate your work and personal apps and data.
Android for Work was made with a large number of partners, in a bid to make the platform more attractive, as well as in terms of helping with the functionality in a number of ways.
It will also be offered on payment kiosks for retail usage, and it’s likely that there will be further developments in the future if it turns out to be successful.
How Android for Work Works:
Android for Work is simple enough to use, as long as you have a compatible Android device. It’s being made for Android 5.0+ devices in mind, but you can also find support on the older 4.0 – 4.4 firmware with the downloadable app. Basically, devices running Lollipop natively can use dedicated separate profiles, while older devices should still be able to use AFW with a dedicated app. (Of course, there are bound to be exceptions, and unfortunately not every device will be able to use AFW.)
To add a work account to your current phone, download the Google Apps Device Policy app, sign in, and you should be good to go with the installation process.
Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) providers integrate with standardized management APIs to allow for management of multiple devices. EMM providers are companies that offer advanced IT solutions for mobile device management (MDM), application management, expense management, and more. It will integrate with existing Google systems, such as Notes, Exchange and Google Apps.
Thankfully, your data will be fully secure on both ends, and while that means that business content can’t be accessed normally, it also means the IT guys (and other colleagues) won’t have access to the personal files on your Android device. They won’t be able to view, edit, or erase any photos, emails, or any other personal data, so any 1984-esque concerns aren’t really valid in this context.
If you leave the company or you lose your device, they can erase the work apps manually, while they won’t be able to touch your personal files, so the device will continue to be usable, which wasn’t always the case in the past.
Apps and Updating:
As you might expect, there are a number of familiar apps, such as a browser, camera, calendar, and the ability to open and edit different files. However, they look slightly different, as they have a badge showing that they’re secured by Android for Work. You can also find more business apps on the Play Store, while AFW comes pre-installed with a set of productivity apps, which are reasonably useful. The new apps will be found on the Google Play for Work version of the store.
Here’s what they will look like on your device.
There is a decent range of protected services, but there still aren’t as many as you might expect. (Although this should be remedied with future updates, and potentially by partners too, as they will offer their own special apps.)
If your company has enrolled with Android for Work, you can also download the separate app found on the Play Store. You can also set separate work notifications to keep focused while you’re working.
However, if you remotely remove your profile, it’ll leave behind the deactivated app info and icons on your screen, and they’re impossible to delete remotely, which is pretty annoying. (Hopefully, this will also be sorted in a future update, as it’s a major oversight.)
You can always contact your workplace to get the icons removed completely. There are work versions of Chrome and Docs, (among others) and it’ll work with MS Office file types, so there isn’t much it can’t do in the workplace.
Pros and Cons of Android for Work:
Now that you have a better idea of what’s on offer, it’s easy to see the perks, although there are a few cons. It’s a shame that it won’t work for every device, but it’s a welcome alternative to lugging around a secondary device, and it should only get better with time. You can use the Divide function to easily separate work from your personal data, and it’s intuitive to use.
Companies are free to add work versions of their apps to the Store, so more will be added in future. They also have control over which apps you can download to the work section of your device; whether this is a pro or con is up to you.
Making it easier to separate work and personal apps is a decent feature, and one that could be handy in the world of business. It will make it faster to switch from separate accounts on the same device, which is handy for emails and other services. The apps are also well optimized for Android devices, which is a nice touch. (This includes a built-in camera app and a download app specifically for work, as well as the usual calendar and mail offerings.)
Is Android for Work Worth It?
It honestly depends on which device you have, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to implement the technology if you’re interested.
In the future, it has been reported that handset makers, (such as the ones that helped in partnership) will offer phones preloaded with the software, and that is sure to make it more viable for companies, so there is a decent chance that Google can make some headway in a market that was traditionally held by Apple and Blackberry.
More importantly, it’s safe, and it has the backing of a lot of the major telecommunication players, as well as a few major customers. (Google is hoping to secure over 1+ billion BYOD devices eventually.) Is there enough to make it worth switching over? It depends on the amount of infrastructure you already have in place, but it could definitely give the established names a run for their money.
Android for Work is a decent alternative to dishing out business devices for everybody.It’s a reasonably secure way to create a clear division between work and personal profiles on your Android device. In essence, it’s a pretty good idea, and it has been implemented well thanks in part to the big names involved.
It’s worrying that there can be issues if you want to uninstall the management tools. It’s still a big step forward for Android devices, despite restrictions in terms of the hardware that can actually put it to use. Sometimes it’s just easier to leave security concerns to your company, but would they even trust Android in the first place, given their past issues?
If you can get by with what you have already, there’s no real pressing reason to change, but it does offer a good alternative. If you want to find out how to get an alternative number on your Android device, here’s a list with six methods.
If we’ve missed a great feature, or you have questions about AFW, let us know in the comments below, or you can contact us via Facebook or Twitter and we’ll get back to you ASAP.