Google Betters Android Security, Management for Honeycomb Tablets

Google upgraded its security and device-management programs for Android smartphones and tablets at a time when more workers are using devices based on the open-source platform.

Google moved to fortify security and management for Android smartphones and tablets used in businesses, with three new software updates designed to improve productivity for workers using Google Apps for Business and Google Apps for Education.

While Research in Motion Blackberry smartphones have dominated the enterprise for the last decade, more businesses are allowing employees to bring their personal Android and iPhone devices into the workplace.

This has forced IT administrators to adapt to workers' device preferences and figure out ways to manage them. Good Technology, Sybase, Mobile Iron and Zenprise are all offering solutions to help these businesses, but Google offers its own management applications for Google Apps collaboration software.

Google April 7 launched a new version of the Google Apps Device Policy application, which will let employees secure a lost or stolen Android device.

The application will locate an Android smartphone on a map, ring the device, and reset the device PIN or password remotely through the new My Devices website.

The application runs on Android 2.2 and later devices. EWEEK downloaded it directly to a Motorola Droid X in seconds via Google's Android Market Webstore here.

Second, Google issued a new corporate contacts application called Google Apps Lookup that makes it easier for employees to contact people in their business.

Users will type or speak the name or email address of a coworker, and then tap to call, email, instant message or send a text message. Because Lookup pulls information from the Google Apps directory, administrators need to enable the "Shared Contacts" option in the control panel for workers to use this.

Screenshots of how this works are available here for this application, which works for Android 2.1 and later devices.

Google also offers a new perk to help Google Apps administrators manage Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" tablets.

Administrators can now use an option in their Apps control panel to encrypt data on device, which will include requiring encrypted storage on Android 3.0 tablets. Honeycomb slates will need version 2.0 of the Google Apps Device Policy application to make this work.

The new Android enterprise perks come more than five months after the last batch of upgrades for business devices. Google Oct. 28 added enterprise management and sync support for Google Apps on its Android 2.2 mobile platform.

That upgrade let Apps administrators remotely wipe all data from lost or stolen mobile devices, lock idle devices after a period of inactivity, require a device password on each phone, set minimum lengths to boost password security and require alphanumeric passwords.