Back in December I wrote about MobileSpaces, an EMM startup with a very unique mobile app management product for Android. Today MobileSpaces is announcing an update to their Android product so that it can better support Google services and mobile apps.
To get the full story on how MobileSpaces works, head over to my previous article. They’re quite impressive, as they’ve created a product that can actually manage any Android app on any Android device, avoiding the tradeoffs of both app-based and OS-based MAM products.
Essentially, MobileSpaces installs an app that acts as an “app virtualization layer” that provides an alternative set of resources for other apps. Under normal conditions, apps access users’ personal data, stored natively on the device. But when the MobileSpaces app virtualization layer is active, the very same apps can access the alternative set of enterprise data instead, thanks to Android's open, modular nature.
Now with Google support
With today’s MobileSpaces 2.1 announcement, the virtualization layer is gaining the ability to interact directly with Google Services and represent itself as a separate device from the host device.
It was already possible to sign into an app using multiple Google accounts by activating the virtualization layer. (And don’t forget that the Android OS itself can accommodate multiple Google accounts, but then you don’t get the benefit of being able to control how data is shared between personal and corporate accounts.)
However, now that Google sees the virtualization layer as a separate device, apps that utilize Google Services will be able be take advantage of more features and provide a more integrated experience. Google Services provides things like push notifications through Google Cloud Messaging, access to the Google play store, Google account authentication, and synchronization. Building this in didn’t require any special cooperation with Google—from their point of view, MobileSpaces is just another device.
The end result is that IT can provide a managed corporate workspace (using any apps and any device, which is what makes MobileSpaces so interesting in the first place), but now the experience of using Google apps and services within that corporate workspace will be richer. This makes MobileSpaces more attractive for companies that use Google Apps.
Dan Dearing, the MobileSpaces marketing VP, mentioned that now that the same concept could be extended to support other cloud frameworks, like Office 365.
As I mentioned before, companies will still need to do the legwork of figuring out how to mobilize apps and data in the first place, but MobileSpaces provides a unique alternative to the tradeoffs inherent in other types of mobile app management.