Android Lollipop has been out for over a month, but when it comes to Android Work, both Google and third-party enterprise mobility management vendors have been pretty quiet. In other words, we’re still waiting.
However, apparently there’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes. Google has posted more information at Android.com, including links to signups for Android Work beta trials.
All of this—just like Android Work itself—is good news for EMM.
If you’re not familiar, Android Work is the name for the new set of EMM features that will soon come with Android Lollipop.
For years, the MDM APIs in Android have been bare-bones, leaving device makers to augment them on their own. This resulted in a fragmented enterprise management experience.
But this summer there was a big change: Google acquired Divide, makers of an app-level mobile app management solution, and then later announced that Samsung was contributing part of its Knox OS-based mobile app management capabilities back to Android.
There was some confusion for a while about what parts of Samsung Knox would make it into Android, but later blog posts from Samsung and Google clarified that it would be the entire work/personal data separation portion of Knox (leaving the differentiator for Samsung devices to be various hardware-based security features).
New details emerge
Now, even though there haven’t been any major announcements or unveilings, new details have emerged: Android.com has a fresh overview of the Android Work features and makes it clear that we’re still waiting on more components to be released from Google.
There are no surprises about the Lollipop device-based work/personal data separation features. (On a side note, one thing that’s not exactly clear yet is whether Android Work for Lollipop will come as part of a dot release AOSP update, or whether it will come as part of Google Mobile Services, which means that non Google-certified devices might not get Android Work.)
There are more details about the freestanding workspace app, though:
(Screenshot from http://www.android.com/it/preview/)
Intended for devices with earlier versions of Android (4.0 through 4.4), the workspace app—obviously based on the Divide acquisition—is a lot like many other app-level mobile app management solutions.
The exciting part is the “Standard APIs for EMM Providers” bit. Whereas most app-based solutions are proprietary to individual EMM vendors, since this one won’t be, it will remove another point of fragmentation.
The next question is how exactly third-party apps from ISVs will be able to interact with the workspace app. The answer isn’t clear yet, but if they do this in a similar open way, then they have a chance to ease issues created by competing third-party MAM ecosystems.
The last interesting part is that Android.com has links to invitational previews available from EMM partners, including AirWatch, BlackBerry, Citrix, Google Apps (which has some EMM capabilities), MaaS360, MobileIron, SAP, and Soti. (Scroll to the bottom of this page.)
Most of the linked sites mention collaboration with Google and providing feedback. This is great news—Android Work has a lot of ground to cover, but that they’re clearly approaching it with careful consideration.