Microsoft Readies Intune for Android Nougat Devices

Android 7.0 is starting to make its way onto users' smartphones. Microsoft's MDM platform is already on the case, featuring "Day Zero" support for Nougat.

Microsoft Intune

On Aug. 22, Google began rolling out Android 7.0 Nougat (or Android N, for short) mobile operating system to the company's Nexus handsets, with devices from other manufacturers to follow in the months ahead. LG, for example, plans to upgrade its V20 smartphone sometime in the third quarter.

No matter when Android Nougat devices start showing up in the workplace, Microsoft's Intune cloud-based mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM) platform will be ready for them, the company announced. Coinciding with the mobile operating system upgrade's release, Microsoft announced on Aug. 22 that Intune features "Day Zero" support.

The Intune group began work on adding Nougat to the pile of supported operating systems since the developer preview was released in March. Customers can begin to welcome Nougat-flavored devices into their environments by upgrading to the latest version of the Intune Company Portal.

There is one lingering issue, and it relates to a change Google made to a key security feature.

"One thing to be aware of is that with the Android N update, Google removed the passcode reset capability," the Intune team wrote in a blog post. "This means that Intune, as well as other MDMs, no longer have this functionality. Issuing a remote passcode reset from the Intune console will result in an error, so we'll soon be updating the console to hide that option for Android N devices."

Android Nougat contains more than 250 major new features, according to Sameer Samat, vice president of product management for Android and Google Play at Google.

Highlights include background updates, new multitasking views and an update to the Doze feature that detects when a device is being "jostled around" in a bag or pocket and switches it to low-power mode. In terms of security, administrators can now enforce an always-on virtual private network (VPN) policy, and a new file-based encryption enables Nougat to "better isolate and protect files for individual users on your device," said Samat in an Aug. 22 announcement.

Android Nougat support aside, the latest Microsoft Intune update includes support for hidden and shown apps for iOS 9.3. IT administrators can specify which apps are hidden from users, rendering them inaccessible. Conversely, they can take a whitelist approach and define which apps users are allowed to see and use; no other apps are shown.

The latest update also features support for allowed and blocked apps policies for Samsung Knox devices and the addition of Yammer to Intune's MAM compatible app list. Intune's Viewer apps (AV Viewer, PDF Viewer and Image Viewer for Android from Google Play) have been discontinued.

Next month, Microsoft is making a major, if unsurprising, change to Intune Groups.

"Intune is creating a new group management experience that uses Azure Active Directory (AAD) security groups as user and device groups in Intune," announced the company in an online support document. "These groups will be used for all group management, policy deployment, and profile deployment when we introduce the new Azure-based Intune admin portal."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...