Google is confident that security and privacy features built into Android make it mature enough to warrant shedding the name Android for Work for enterprise features.
Android for Work and Play for Work will now be known simply as Android and Google Play because the enterprise features that once distinguished Work versions of its OS and app store are now at the core of its consumer products, the search company announced today.
Google launched Android for Work in early 2015 in a bid to unseat Apple’s iPhone and iPads in the enterprise. Using container technology, Google’s Work Profiles offered a way to separate personal apps and private data from work apps and company data, allowing IT department to manage and erase the latter without viewing the former. Google also teamed up with several mobile device management companies to better support enterprise customers, and launched a the Google Play for Work store.
But as Google pointed out today in a blogpost, the ability to split work from personal data has been built into Android since Lollipop 5.0. Android for Work also supported the vast number of devices on older versions down to Android 3.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
While Android 7.0 Nougat still runs on less than half a percent of the world’s 1.4 billion Android devices, eventually more of them will benefit from Nougat’s Direct Boot features, which introduces file-based encryption. Direct Boot moves Android closer to iOS, which adopted file-based encryption in 2010. Android Nougat also introduced support for always-on VPN for companies that use a VPN to secure connections to the network.
“To match the progress of enterprise support in Android, going forward we’ll refer to enterprise capabilities simply as part of Android and Google Play,” wrote Google software engineer Adam Connors and product manager Travis McCoy.
“With platform-level support shipping with every GMS compatible device, Android for Work and Play for Work have become a core part of Android and Google Play. We think this change better reflects the built-in nature of enterprise features of Android and our commitment to enterprise mobility,” they added.
Google separately highlighted today its broader security initiatives to address key weaknesses of the Android ecosystem, such as slow patching. Google notes that Samsung, LG and Sony offer its monthly security patch level updates “on a recurring basis” and expects more Android OEMs to follow suit.
Google recently embarked on a major clean up related to Gooligan/Ghost Push malware that compromised one million Google accounts. Notably, Googligan infected Android devices via apps installed outside of Google Play. However, the malware exploited old un-patched flaws in Android to root devices and then fraudulently install apps from Google Play and post bogus positive app reviews. Google says IT admins can block users from installing apps from unknown sources.