Android Enterprise Recommended expands to include Carriers, promises “rapid approval” for security updates

Android Enterprise Recommended expands to include Carriers, promises “rapid approval” for security updates

Early last year, Google introduced the Android Enterprise Recommended (AER) program to help businesses find smartphones for enterprise use. In order to be included in the AER catalog, devices have to meet a few requirements. For example, devices have to meet a set of minimum hardware specifications, they have to get security patch updates within 90 days of release, and they must support zero-touch enrollment for faster set up and deployment. The list of supported AER devices has slowly expanded over the past year, and Google has even added a new category of devices (rugged devices). Initially, Android Enterprise Recommended devices could only be sold directly through the manufacturer or a reseller, but earlier this year Google expanded the program to include Managed Service Providers (MSPs.) Now, Android Enterprise Recommended is expanding to include carriers, according to Jason Bayton who attended the Android Enterprise Partner Summit this year.

Mr. Bayton published a blog post summarizing the summit, though he was required to withhold some of what was revealed due to signing an NDA. Earlier blog posts from Mr. Bayton dive deep into a lot of under-the-hood enterprise-related changes coming to Android Q. Although most of the information in his posts is relevant only to software engineers involved in Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM), his posts do reveal a few tidbits of information that I think users may be interested in.

Android Enterprise Recommended for Android Q

A summary of new requirements that Google is proposing be added to Android Enterprise Recommended for the Android Q release. Source: Google. Via: Jason Bayton.

Android Enterprise Recommended for Carriers

According to Mr. Bayton, Google has laid out requirements for carriers to sell Android Enterprise Recommended devices. Most notably, carriers are required to support zero-touch enrollment and rapidly approve security maintenance releases, but there’s seemingly no requirement to quickly roll out major platform upgrades. Given how long it can take carriers to certify a software upgrade, this is disappointing to hear. Still, allowing carriers to sell Android Enterprise Recommended devices will improve access to businesses that have an existing partnership with a carrier.

Android Enterprise Recommended carrier requirements

Carrier requirements for the Android Enterprise Recommended program. Source: Google. Via: Jason Bayton.

Changes in Android Q

New Setup Flow

Many people carry a work phone and a personal phone because they know that they have little to no control over their work phone. However, some people don’t realize how much control IT may have over their work phone. Android Q’s new provisioning flow will clearly tell the user that IT can “see your data and activity” on a managed device.

The new provisioning flow in Android Q gives users a better idea about what’s happening during setup. Source: Jason Bayton.

One downside of this new flow is that it’s slower to complete, which may annoy the people manually setting up new devices. If you’re setting up a bunch of devices for a corporation, though, you’ll definitely want to use zero-touch enrollment.

Cross-Profile Calendar Sync

Android Q now supports letting apps in the personal profile show events from a work profile calendar. According to the documentation, cross-profile calendars can be enabled in Settings if the feature isn’t disabled by an IT admin. When enabled, an app in the personal profile can show work events, but editing them will redirect the user to the same event in the work profile.

Cross-profile calendar sync settings. Source: Jason Bayton.

Mandatory Work Tab

In Android 9 Pie, Google introduced the “work tab” in the app drawer of the launcher. This helps users separate their personal apps from their work apps, but apparently, few OEMs supported the work tab in their launchers. Instead, many only offered a Work folder pre-populated with work-related applications.

The Work Tab in the Pixel Launcher on Android Pie. Source: Google.

Google is proposing to make it a requirement for Android Enterprise Recommended devices running Android Q to have a work tab. This will definitely improve the adoption of this usability feature.

Miscellaneous Changes

There are a lot of changes in Android Q for enterprises, but some of the changes that users should be aware of include the following:

  • Admins can disable any user or profile from installing apps from unknown sources.
  • Admins can limit input methods (keyboards).
  • Admins can now set Private DNS settings on managed device profiles.
  • Admins can determine the complexity of the screen lock method to make recommendations on whether you should change your password.

If we learn more about Android Q’s enterprise features or how the Android Enterprise Recommended program is evolving, we’ll let you know.

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