Android P, the next version of Google's mobile operating system will have several features designed specifically to bolster its usability in enterprise environments.
Among them are several enhancements aimed at improving the operating system’s security and its performance on corporate devices and on self-owned Android devices used in the workplace.
"Many of the new features in Android P are specifically aimed at the enterprise," Google software engineer Eric Sandness wrote in a blog May 22. The goal is to give mobile device administrators more flexibility for managing Android devices while giving users of personally-owned devices more options for quickly switching between personal use and on-the job use, he said.
Google announced Android P –the ninth version of its widely used mobile operating system—in March. The operating system is currently available in beta form on a variety of devices including Google's own Pixel smartphones and devices from other vendors such as Nokia, Sony and Xiaomi.
Developers can use the beta version on these devices to develop new applications or to update existing applications to work reliably with the new operating system. Google has a habit of using feedback gathered from developers during the beta phase to fine-tune features and updates in upcoming versions of Android.
With Android P, users will find it easier to separate their personal apps from work apps. Google has introduced a new dedicated work apps tab in Android app launcher that will make it easier for users to identify work applications. Work apps will also be identified by a distinctive blue briefcase badge so users will able to spot them more easily.
Google has also introduced a switch in Android P that makes it easier for users to disconnect from work mode when they are away from the office. The option to switch off is available inside the work tab and instantly disables all work-related apps, data and notifications on the device.
Google has also included a feature that gives application developers a way to let users switch between personal and work accounts without have to launch the application each time. The feature is designed to make it easier for people to use productivity applications that are used both for personal use and in workplace settings, Sandness said.
"A quick transition zips you from one account to another in apps that you have installed for both work and personal profiles," Sandness said.
Google P introduces a new feature that makes it easier for enterprises to manage shared mobile devices. Users can simply sign out of a device to make it ready for use by other employees with different profiles and permissions.
Android P also updates the so-called kiosk mode in the operating system. Kiosk mode is an Android feature that organizations can use for mobile devices that are used as payment terminals, informational kiosks, digital signs and more. Until now, administrators could only assign one kiosk app to a device.
Android P removes that limitation. "Now in Android P, admins can lock multiple apps and quickly switch between them with a dedicated launcher," Sandness said. For instance, a restaurant could use the kiosk mode to take a user's order and then switch the same device over to a payment terminal.
When Android P becomes available, enterprise administrators will be able to enforce rules that require users to maintain different PINs and timeout rules for accessing work and personal profiles. Administrators will also be able to enforce rules that prevent data sharing between personal and work profiles and to ensure that only securely-authenticated devices can access the corporate network.