Google has launched a new program under which it will certify Android devices that meet certain security and other requirements as being suitable for enterprise use.
The new Android Enterprise Recommended program is designed to give organizations more confidence in the enterprise readiness of Android devices for work purposes. The program, according to Google, establishes best practices and certain common requirements for Android devices and related services.
The new program is "a Google-led global initiative that raises the bar of excellence for enterprise devices and services," said David Still, director of Android Enterprise at Google in a Feb. 21 blog. It is aimed at giving enterprises a minimum level of quality assurance and product consistency when considering Android for work.
"Some of the top concerns we’ve heard from customers include the need for frequent security updates, reliable and consistent software experiences, and simplified device selection," Still said.
Google currently estimates there are some two billion installed Android devices in use worldwide. But unlike the case with Apple's iPhone, Google is not the only manufacturer of Android powered smartphones and tablets. In fact, Samsung, Sony, Huawei, Blackberry, LG and hundreds of other manufacturers around the world account for the vast majority of new and installed Android devices.
Google itself has no direct control over third-party product specifications, the Android versions installed in the systems and the frequency with which the operating system is updated or patched.
As a result, organizations considering Android devices for enterprise use have had to contend with a very inconsistent selection in terms of operating system versions, ease of deployment, management support, and security patching.
With the new Enterprise Recommended program all vendors that want their products certified will need to ensure their devices meet specific requirements for hardware quality, deployment, enrollment, security updates and usability.
For an Android device to be certified enterprise-ready, it must run Android 7.0 or later, be equipped with at least 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage and be capable of providing at least 8 hours of battery life, according to Google. The devices should support bulk deployment and easy enrollment in enterprise mobile device management processes.
In addition, Google has specified a list of default apps that need to be included with each device—such as its own Google cloud apps, Play Store and Messaging—in order to ensure a consistent experience for all users, according to Google.
Perhaps most importantly for many enterprises, Google's Android Enterprise Recommended program requires third-party manufacturer's to ensure their devices receive security updates within 90 days of release. Currently, many vendors do not have any formal program for distributing security patches to installed devices leaving their products vulnerable to known exploits that have been patched. Many of those that do make patches available sometimes take months to distribute them.
Enterprise ready devices not only need run the currently released version of Android, but also must be capable of supporting at least the next major version. In addition, manufacturers are required to ensure that enterprises can buy unlocked devices directly from them or through a third-party distributor.
Recommended program requirements will be updated with each Android platform version, Google has noted.
In announcing the program Google also released a list of devices that the company has already certified as being enterprise ready. Besides several of Google's own Pixel models, Google has certified BlackBerry's KEYone and Motion models, the LG V30 and G6, Motorola X4 and Z2 and Sony's Xperia XZ1, XZ1 Compact and XZ Premium.