Google Pushes for Adoption of Newer Android Device Management APIs

Enterprises using legacy Google mobile device management capabilities should transition to newer ones, company says.

Android Mobile Device Management

Google wants enterprises to accelerate adoption of some of the company's more modern Android mobile device management technologies.

After years of supporting organizations that are continuing to use a Device Administration Application Programming Interface that became available seven years ago with Android 2.2, Google this week announced plans to gradually drop support for the API in coming Android releases.

The device administration API will continue to be supported fully through Google's Android Oreo release, product manager Tom Watkins said in a blog Dec. 21. Most existing functionality will continue to be supported in the next major Android version as well, though the device administration API will no longer support password enforcement features. Password enforcement capabilities via the device administration API will go away completely with the following Android release in 2019.

"We strongly recommend that businesses plan to move to work profile and managed device APIs" Watkins said referring to the two newer device management technologies that Google introduced with Android 5.0.

Work profile is an enterprise mobility management technology that lets organizations carve out a secure mode for running work applications and data on personally owned Android devices in the workplace. The work-managed device profile is a capability for securely managing corporate-owned Android devices.

Many organizations have already begun using these capabilities and Google wants to ensure that those who haven't done so make the transition, Watkins said. "By sharing this update early, we aim to provide companies with sufficient time to migrate existing devices or start fresh as new ones are added to their fleet," he said.

According to Watkins, organizations have two options for moving from the older, legacy Google Android device management technology to the more recent ones.

Organizations that allow employees to use personally owned Android devices at work should consider deploying the work profile capability while company-owned devices should be set up as fully managed devices. The latter option will require a factory reset of devices so organizations that want to make the transition should do so in a phased manner, Watkins said.

"Major mobility transitions are typically a large and important undertaking," he conceded. But organizations that permit the use of Android devices in the workplace will be better served by adopting the newer device management capabilities, he said.

Google's effort to get enterprises to adopt its more recent Android device management capabilities comes amid a broader push by the company to make Android more secure.

In a separate blog announcement Google this week highlighted several new security capabilities that it has integrated into Android Oreo, the latest version of its mobile operating system.

Among them are features like Rollback Protection that is designed to prevent users from installing older Android versions on their devices, a new hardware abstraction layer for stronger device lock protections and stronger application sandboxing.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.