Google Expands 'Android Enterprise Recommended' Mobile Device Program

Google is now certifying Android devices as being 'rugged' if they meet certain elevated requirements for safety and security.

Google Android device certification program.

Google has expanded its Android Enterprise Recommended program under which it is certifying Android devices as being suited for enterprise use if they meet specific requirements for hardware, software, security and other features. 

This week the company announced that it would now start certifying Android devices as being 'rugged' under the same program if the devices meet an elevated set of standards for durability and longevity. 

The category is designed to make it easier for organizations to identify products that, in Google's assessment, are built to handle demanding enterprise workloads over a longer device lifetime than typical devices designed for business use, according to the company. 

"In addition to minimum hardware, OS support and provisioning specifications, we’re adding requirements for drop-testing and ingress protection," said Jack Weixel, head of global partnerships at Google's Android group in a Sept 5 blog. For an Android device to be certified as rugged, it will also need to support regular security patching for at least five years, Weixel said. 

In February, Google launched Android Enterprise Recommended. At the time the company described it as an effort to establish certain best practices and minimum requirements for Android devices designed for use in enterprise settings. 

Under the program Google is testing and certifying Android devices as recommended for enterprise use if they meet minimum hardware specifications, are running at least  version Android 7.0 and are available unlocked directly from the manufacturer or reseller. 

For an Android deices to be classified as enterprise recommended the manufacture or reseller also needs to commit to installing security patches on the devices within 90 days of patch release. 

The company has already released an initial list of devices that meet these specifications. The lineup includes multiple Google Pixel models, the Blackberry KEYone, the LG V30 and Sony Xperia XZ1. 

With this week's announcement device makers and resellers can get their Android devices certified as being rugged if the devices meet a few additional requirements such as the one for ingress-testing and drop testing. 

Rugged devices also need to support at least one additional major OS release and be capable of bulk deployment including through an Android 'zero-touch' enrollment feature for large-scale deployment in enterprise settings. 

Devices that have already been certified as rugged include the Zebra TC25, Honeywell Dolphin CT40, Sonim XP8 and Point Mobile PM45. Google is currently working with other manufacturers, such as Panasonic to get more devices validated under the rugged devices program, Weixel said. 

The Enterprise Recommended program is an effort by Google to foster more standardization and adherence to security controls in the Android ecosystem. The Android market, unlike Apple's tightly controlled iPhone environment is highly fragmented with thousands of device makers delivering products. This has made it hard for enterprises to select products that are truly ready for business use, according to Google.  

By establishing a certification program and minimum requirements for validation, Google is hoping to give enterprises an easier way to identify Android devices that are ready for business use.

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.