Google has added a new option in Android for Work that the company said will make it easier for enterprises to set up and manage corporate-issued mobile devices running the new Android 6.0 Marshmallow release.
The new device set-up option is available via the Admin console in Android for Work. The option prompts employees, who attempt to add a work account to a new device, to confirm if the device is corporate-issued. Once device ownership is confirmed, a policy-management app is automatically installed and completes the steps needed to securely provision the device and set it up based on the user's work account.
"That employee will then be ready to go," Google said in a blog post announcing the update. They can find and download any apps that are approved for their use from the Google Play for Work store and be automatically signed into Gmail, Drive and other Google applications.
Android 6.0 smartphones that are provisioned through the new device set-up feature are fully governable through Android for Work's mobile-device management (MDM) and mobile-application management (MAM) capabilities. So administrators can apply and enforce policies on the devices pertaining to password strength, remote data wiping, application use and other capabilities, Google noted.
Enterprises can use the device and the application-management features to enforce policy around WiFi and mobile network use, screen capture and USB file transfers and the ability for employees to reset their devices to factory settings.
In addition to enabling easier setup of company owned devices, Google has also made it simpler for enterprises to install its device policy management app on user-owned mobile devices running the older Android 4.4 KitKat and 5.x Lollipop releases of the operating system, the announcement noted.
Google introduced Android for Work in February as part of an effort to enable easier management of Android devices in the workplace. As part of the initiative, the company is working with multiple partners to deliver new enterprise mobility management capabilities around Android. Among those partnering with Google are BlackBerry, SAP, MaaS360, Sony, Samsung and HTC.
In addition, Google has also managed to garner support for Android for Work from several major carriers, including Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile. The companies have said they will deliver tools and services to enable secure use of Android devices in the enterprise.
Google has said that Android for Work allows enterprises to essentially separate and manage business applications from personal apps on devices running Android 5.0 or higher. Google has also set up an enterprise version of its Google Play app store, which organizations can use to deliver approved apps to workers.
The goal behind such initiatives is to give businesses a way to better manage the proliferating use of Android devices in the workplace. As a mobile operating system that was primarily designed for consumer use, Android, until recently at least, had few of the controls that enterprises require to enable secure mobile access to applications and data.
Google claims that some 10,000 enterprises are currently using Android for Work or at least giving it a whirl in their organizations. Among the organizations reportedly using or testing Android for Work are the World Bank, the U.S. Army and Guardian Life Insurance.