Mobile-device administrators at organizations that have signed up for the premium business version of Google Apps now have a new tool for auditing activities on managed Android and iOS devices.
Google's new Mobile Audit feature, announced this week, gives Google Apps administrators a way to audit activities like operating system updates, application installations, or removals and settings changes that an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet user might make on their devices.
The audit capability is available on all enterprise mobile devices running either operating system that are currently being managed by Google Mobile Management.
Activities that are monitored by Mobile Audit will be available to Google Apps administrators in the administrative console on the accounts activity reports page. Administrators can use the console to run queries against mobile device users and get a detailed report on their activities. Administrators can also use the console to set alerts for specific activities that a user or a set of users might take with their mobile devices.
"With this new feature, administrators will be able to query all of the Mobile Audit information by user, by device or by event," said Sumit Chatterjee, product manager, Google Mobile Management, and Wesley Chun, developer advocate of Google Apps, in a post on the company's Apps Developer Blog. The feature also will let administrators carry out tasks like verifying if all managed mobile devices in the enterprise are running the latest security updates or to get a quick rundown of all devices that have been newly registered on the enterprise network.
New API-level support for Mobile Audit in Google Apps means administrators can now send device information to an asset-tracking system so organizations can keep track of their mobile assets, the two Google managers said.
The activity audit capability builds on the mobile management options that are currently available through Google Apps. This includes the ability for administrators to manage mobile devices from anywhere via their consoles, individually approving devices for active management, and pushing policies, such as those related to security and configuration settings, out to end-user devices.
The options include the ability for administrators to add secure work accounts on user-owned Android devices that are being used in the workplace. For business-issued Android devices, Google gives administrators the ability to allow or disallow personal accounts, restrict VPN and WiFi changes, restrict USB transfers and prevent applications from being loaded on the device. The company also offers a set of iOS-specific management options in Google Apps that include the ability for administrators to turn on encryption and set controls for account wipe and screen lock on managed iOS smartphones and tablets.
Robust mobile management capabilities are going to become increasingly important for Google as the adoption of Android-based mobile devices in the enterprise grows. Despite Android's reputation for sketchy security and the relative lack of formal patching and updating processes among Android handset manufactures, Android device activations in the enterprise have continued to grow.
Good Technology's Mobility Index shows that Android device activations in the enterprise grew from 26 percent in the second quarter of last year to 32 percent in the third, while iOS activations slipped from 72 percent to 64 percent in the same period.