Android 4.0 in the Enterprise
Continuing the “season of mobile OS updates” and after last week news and buzz about Apple, this week Google and Samsung finally announced the awaited Android 4.0 (codename Ice Cream Sandwich or ICS) and the first device running it. The Samsung Galaxy Nexus, available next month in some countries.
- Redesigned user interface (Roboto font)
- Better multitasking / notifications
- “Android Beam” - NFC support (Near Field Communications)
- “Face Unlock” - face recognition via the front-facing camera
- Camera application - now has panorama feature and Apple like features
- Voice input engine – Just as good as Apple Siri?
- Visual voicemail
- New E-mail features:
- Unified calendar
- Supports nested mail subfolders, each with synchronization rules
- Server search across folders
- Support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) v14 (Exchange Server 2010)
- EAS certificate authentication
- Provides Allow/Block/Quarantine (ABQ) strings for device type and mode
- Automatic sync to be disabled while roaming
- Limit attachment size or disable attachments
- Native Wi-Fi Direct support (access point-less connectivity)
- New keychain API and underlying encrypted storage
- Provides address space layout randomization (ASLR) to help protect system and third party applications from exploitation due to memory-management issues.
- New VPN API and underlying secure credential storage
- Remotely disable the camera
At a quick glance it appears to be a good (yet small) incremental list of enterprise support and much needed security and ActiveSync features. I wouldn’t expect many of the older devices to have upgrades provided by OEMs and Mobile Operators, but really hope that some of the more recent devices receive upgrades.
It will be interesting to see what and how the various 3rd party, MDM vendors and OEM extenders (think 3LM) will follow suit in the following months with support. I suspect the OEM vendors will continue to announce new devices with Android 4.0 as quickly as possible and hopefully (please, pretty please!) potential device upgrades..
I believe Android 4 could be a good new minimum bar for OS level compliancy for corporate enterprises. All the encryption goodness finally is finally present on the smartphone side and not just the tablet side of the Android story. But it may take a long time (6+ months in todays hectic mobility ecosystem?) before there is enough device support to raise the bar.. In the mean time it appears the MDM vendors are definitely catching up in their Android support.
In other news, in case you missed it the other week from the CTIA show, Samsung announced further Enterprise support in their SAFE (Samsung Approved For Enterprise) certification program:
Several MDM vendors have already announced their partnership with Samsung on this, Sybase, SOTI and MobileIron so far. Also Cisco, Juniper and Citrix are included to make it easier to make corporate network connectivity.
Unclear how some of this overlaps Android 4.0, but assume Samsung will continue to provide value to distinguish themselves from other Android OEMs mostly in the 3LM camp.