Samsung has greatly enhanced the practicality of its Knox smartphone and tablet security system, adding the ability to deploy apps from Google Play and offering a dedicated KNOX Marketplace for business-class software.
Although announced a year ago before being formally launched in October, the changes in Knox 2.0 are so fundamental it's tempting to see this as the system's real launch. The enhancements are numerous, almost confusingly so, mixing tweaks to current features as well as totally new capabilities.
IT departments embracing Knox as a monthly subscription will now get the Knox Marketplace, a store full of third-party apps (150 to start with), including eventually Office 365 and Google Docs. This is backed up by the Knox Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM), a cloud-based single sign mobile management portal.
To improve the way apps can run in separate business and personal containers (the security firewall that defines the Knox hardware and software system), Samsung is for the first time allowing third-party containers to be added to the personal Knox system, specifically those from Good Technology's secure container, Fixmo's SafeZone and MobileIron's AppConnect.
The ability to support more than one secure container is seen as necessary for BYOD flexibility, for example when supporting a corporate network and a partner without compromising Knox's underlying hardware security.
Perhaps most important of all, most apps from Google's Play store will now be supported without the need to 'wrap' them so they will work inside Knox.
Different APNs (Access Point Names) can now be applied to data traffic from the business and personal containers, which allows independent billing of usage.
"Good customers can now benefit from KNOX's hardware and OS-level security," said Good Technology president and CEO, Christy Wyatt. "Samsung customers can uniquely enable the Good secure container as the mobile app security and management stack on KNOX devices and leverage the entire Good ecosystem of business productivity apps."
Samsung said it had sold more than 25 million Knox-enabled devices since October 2013, and was activating new ones at a rate of 7,000 per day.
Knox 2.0 will come pre-installed on the new Galaxy S5 smartphone and will be made available in Q2. Samsung devices will need to upgrade to Android KitKat 4.4 to be compatible with the software.
The Mobile World Congress has seem a number of Knox-related announcements, including its integration with Zscaler's security cloud service.