The corporate world is a little bit lost right now when it comes to mobile devices. Once upon a time, BlackBerry was the logical (and only) choice –Research in Motion (RIM) was highly security conscious and their smartphones were seemingly very single-purpose. Flash forward and the marketplace isn’t quite so cut and dried: Apple is a crowd favourite in many ways because their locked-down approach to hardware means it is less prone to attack, Microsoft has dropped the mobile technology ball so many times they aren’t much of a contender anymore… and then there is Android, beloved but not necessarily trusted. This reality may soon be changing thanks to a program called Android for Work announced at this year’s Google I/O conference.
With the upcoming Android “L” release (to start, Ice Cream sandwich builds and later will eventually be supported), Google is introducing APIs that promise to provide data separation and increased security (taking advantage of Samsung’s Knox). This approach is especially meaningful now that personal devices are used for work (and work devices are used for personal content).
In addition to enhanced security, Android for Work will provide a method for enterprise-level app distribution using Google Play, allowing for centralized deployment and configuration.
Also included in these enhancements is an update to Google Drive that should compete with services like Dropbox. Labeled as Drive for Work, this update will offer unlimited cloud storage with encrypted file transfers for $10 per month. To provide even more peace of mind to the corporate world, Drive for Work will give greater administrative controls to IT administrators (including APIs that will allow for close monitoring of the files being stored and accessed).
Are these offerings from Google enough to gain the interest and trust from business users? Time will tell –but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.