Businesses: Google really wants your company using Android.
The company is finally rolling out Android for Work, a new program that optimizes Android for large businesses and organizations, Google announced on Wednesday.
First previewed last year during the Google I/O developer conference, the company’s plan is for employees at a range of companies and organizations to be able to use a single Android device for both business and personal use, regardless of company IT policies. To enable this, the company built a series or new features into the Android operating system itself and partnered with a wide range of device and enterprise software companies.
At the heart of the update is the addition of work profiles, which allow Lollipop users to set up two completely separate identities for work and personal use on their devices. The idea is to have a dedicated work “identity” that lines up with corporate IT policies — whatever they may be — while giving users the ability to switch back and forth between that and the apps and services they use for personal activities.
“What we’ve done at an operating system level is separated out your work life and personal life as separate users,” Rajen Sheth explained at a press event at Google’s offices in San Francisco.
Business’ IT managers can access and control the encrypted data on work profiles and tightly control what apps users can access through a new version of the Play Store called Google Play for Work. The company also created a separate suite of productivity apps like email, calendars and notes that support company’s policies. For example, there’s a specialized version of Chrome for work that allows companies to ensure mobile browsing is in line with their policies.
Though the new features will be baked into devices running Android Lollipop (5.0 and above), Google is also making Android for Work functionality backward-compatible with a separate Android for Work app that will bring the features to devices running older versions of Android.
Google also partnered with a number of device manufacturers and enterprise software companies on the project. On the software side, companies like Adobe, Box, Citrix and Cisco worked with Google to optimize their apps for the program while the makers of major Android flagships, including HTC, Motorola and Samsung, worked with Google to customize their devices for the platform.
Samsung, for example, is integrating their own Knox security platform on top of Android for Work to add an additional layer of security on top of what Google’s offering.
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