Google Apps Gets Mobile Management Tools for BYOD, Security

The new mobile management tools aim to give enterprise Google Apps customers more productivity and security features for their Android BYOD users.

Google Apps Mobile Management

Google is expanding its arsenal of mobile management tools for Google Apps to help enterprises better manage the Android devices and capabilities of their BYOD users.

The new features were unveiled by Clayton Jones, Google Enterprise product manager, in a May 21 post on the Google Enterprise Blog.

"Bring your own device (BYOD) is no longer just a trend—it's how business gets done," wrote Jones. "With thousands of mobile applications to choose from and an increasing number of Websites optimized for mobile, today's employees can work whenever and wherever they choose. It also means IT organizations now have the dual challenge of both helping employees be more productive and protecting corporate data."

That's where the new Google Apps Mobile Management for Android productivity and security tools come into play, wrote Jones.

Included in the new features are an inactive account wipe capability that will allow enterprises to set user policies that will wipe an inactive account from a device if it has not been synced for a predetermined number of days, wrote Jones. The inactive account wipe capability protects enterprises if a device is lost so that it does not cause a security risk.

Also included is new support for EAP-based WiFi networks, so that IT administrators can now configure settings and distribute certificate authority- (CA-) based certs for EAP, or Extensible Authentication Protocol, networks, wrote Jones.

Compromised device detection has also been added so that IT administrators can set policies that will detect signals for common forms of a compromised device, including "rooting" or the installation of a custom "ROM," so that modified devices can be blocked for security reasons, he wrote.

New reporting fields have also been added in the API and Admin console so that IT administrators can better understand the devices that are in use and troubleshoot issues, wrote Jones. The added fields include serial number, IMEI, MEID, WiFi MAC address, baseband version, kernel version, build number, mobile operator/carrier, language settings and account ownership/management.

The updates to the Google Apps Mobile Management for Android tools provide more ways that IT administrators can protect enterprise systems, devices, employees and corporate data.

Google frequently adds new features and services to its Google Apps products.

Earlier this month, Google Apps unveiled new mobile versions of its Docs and Sheets applications so that mobile users can create or edit documents on their devices while on the move. A mobile Slides app is also in the pipeline, but has not been released. Users will be able to see their most recently edited files when they open each app, making it easier to find files as needed. The apps also come with offline support built in, so users can view, edit and create files without an Internet connection.

In March, Google said it was encouraging its existing Google Apps paying customers to promote the service to friends through a $15 per-referral cash bonus if users help Google sign up new paying customers. The Google Apps Referral Program, which is still going on, allows existing users to receive a maximum of $1,500 as a reward for up to 100 such referrals. The program is open to Google Apps users in the United States and Canada.

Google has some 5 million Google Apps users around the world, according to the company. The cloud-based Google Apps includes Gmail, Calendar, Drive storage, Docs, Sheets and Slides services.

Also in March, Google announced that it would drop support for the Google Apps Connector for BlackBerry Enterprise Server in March 2015. The coming change will affect Google Apps users with BlackBerry devices running BlackBerry OS 7 or earlier operating systems that are connecting to Google Apps through BlackBerry Enterprise Server version 5.0.3. By using the connector, enterprises could set up their Google Apps suite to integrate with BES, which allows employees to use built-in BlackBerry applications to access their Google Apps email, calendar and contacts.

In November 2013, Google announced that it would move all its Apps sign-in pages to have the same look for consistency and security, meaning that users will lose their personalization options. Under the changes, they also lose the ability to customize their Google Apps sign-in pages with their logos and other branding information.

In October 2013, Google unveiled a new feature that allows Google Docs users to share files with others who are not using Google accounts. The new capability allows guest Docs users who are not signed in to a Google account to be able to view a file, but not make changes or edits, according to Google. The new feature permits, for the first time, users to share such documents with others who may not have their own Google accounts. Previously, users could only view such files if they were also logged into their Google accounts. Administrators and Google Docs users who already have file-sharing permissions can change the sharing settings as desired. The new file-sharing feature is available for users of Google Apps and Google Apps for Business, Education and Government.