According to TechCrunch, Android has an 86% of the worldwide smartphone marketshare. But why do so few enterprise deployments reflect that ratio? What I hear when talking to customers is that customers tend to select either iOS OR Android. There are exceptions, but I personally see stronger iOS adoption for line of business applications and BYOD use cases in the US, Canada and a couple other regions. I see stronger Android adoption for line of business applications and for BYOD outside of Canada and the US. There are a couple theories for why this may be the case. The main theories are that the historical fragmentation and slow OS update rates for Android makes it more complicated for an enterprise to manage Android. Additionally, the perceptions about Android security (some real, some not) have also been an issue.
In the end, most users in the world have Android devices BUT most enterprises predominantly manage iOS devices for employee use. To me this represents a large opportunity if and when enterprises open up to Android.
The good news is that over the last few years Google and the Android ecosystem have implemented new functionality to improve the security and to reduce the complexity of managing a diverse fleet of Android devices. Google just published an informative Android Security 2016 Year In Review paper. Our January product updates to both SAP Afaria and SAP Cloud Platform mobile service for app and device management, include significant changes to Android that should help make adoption easier. These changes are a result of Google’s ongoing investment in Android for the enterprise and are the result of customer and partner feedback. The result is an improved user experience for both device administrators and for Android users.
Simplified setup and device enrollment: 23 steps reduced to 5!
First, the administration portal has been upgraded to support Google’s new simplified Android enterprise setup process. With this new flow, administrators are no longer required to claim a domain, generate tokens and generate and manage p12 files. Admins now set up their Android for Work account in minutes without having to switch between the Google admin console and our mobile service administration portal. We counted 23 steps using the old method and only 5 steps in the new method! In addition, since the entire process is programmatically controlled, there is a reduced chance of errors and built in recovery when something goes wrong.
Next, the device enrollment flow has been simplified. As important as it is to improve the administrator experience, the end user experience can make or break a mobile deployment. Users will see fewer screens and prompts when the Android for Work managed profile is created on their device. Improved error handling has been added, and the entire process is much faster. There are no additional device OS version requirements for the new account type. For a list of devices, click here to go to Google’s enterprise Android site.
These improvements come with a couple of caveats. From this release forward, SAP will no longer support Google Domain accounts, and will only support Android for Work accounts. To support Android for Work accounts, the Mobile Secure client must also be updated to the January 2017 or newer client build on Google Play. Using an earlier version of the client will result in the failure to inflate the managed profile and the user’s inability to install applications. Finally, there is no migration path from Google Accounts to Android for Work accounts: the enterprise must be re-enrolled, and clients must also re-enroll to use the new account configuration.
Gmail supports Exchange active sync
Google now supports Exchange active sync in Google’s Android apps running in the Android for Work managed profile. The benefit is that these apps are loaded onto every Android device and the Gmail app tends to be the email app of choice on Android and for Gmail users on all platforms.
- Gmail app syncs to Exchange e-mail and tasks
- Google Calendar app syncs to Exchange calendar
- Google Contacts app syncs to Exchange contacts
Exchange Active Sync is configured by creating a Gmail (Android Market – com.google.android.gm) app policy. Previously, administrators used a device configuration policy to set the enterprise’s Exchange policy. Now, the supported Exchange Active Sync policy values are managed in the configuration settings section of the Gmail app policy. By default, Google Calendar and Contacts apps are default system apps (along with Chrome, Play Store, My Files apps), that get pushed into the managed profile. The Calendar and Contacts apps will get their settings from the Gmail app.
Google has announced end of support for their Divide productivity app now that Gmail supports Exchange active sync. Customers who were using the Divide app should begin using Gmail instead.
Managed app configuration
Since our initial launch of Android for Work, we have supported Android for Work managed app configuration settings in both the device management app policy as well as in the Mobile Place app policy. This is for all apps on Google Play that support managed app configuration. As you would expect, Google’s apps – Chrome, Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc. – utilize managed app configuration.
SAP’s support of Google’s new Android for Work accounts improves the enterprise setup and the end-user enrollment experience. Enterprises can also now use Google’s Gmail app to give end users a familiar native e-mail experience on Android. Customers considering Android deployments will benefit from the simplified process and improved user experience to reduce support costs and increase adoption.
To learn more about how to set up and manage apps and devices using Android for Work, please check out these resources.
YouTube – “What’s new in 1701” video on YouTube.
SAP Enterprise Support Academy – View recorded sessions on various topics related to setting up and configuring Android for Work. There is a new Meet The Expert event ‘What’s New in Android For Work ‘ that covers the recent changes.