Google introduces Android for Work

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Google introduces Android for Work

Phones to get 'split personality'.

Google today unveiled a new set of applications and partnerships to push its Android mobile operating system into the enterprise, called Android for Work.

Android for Work separates a user's device into work and personal partitions, a similar concept to BlackBerry Balance and Samsung Knox, both of which launched in 2013.

With Android for Work, workers will be able to run any application with both business and personal accounts on the same device thanks to technology provided by Divide, a start-up Google acquired last year.

The Divide tool creates what Google has termed "work profiles", which separates applications and data deployed by organisations from users' personal apps and data.

It allows an organisation's IT team to manage and control all work-related applications and data, without affecting a user's personal data.

Business applications appear alongside personal apps on the device, but are identified by a specific icon or work "badge" - negating the need to switch back and forth between work and personal profiles.

Work profiles are built into the Android Lollipop OS, while older devices will be serviced by a downloadable Android for Work application.

The Divide tool also installs a new version of Google's App store, dubbed Google Play for Work, filled with business-centric applications.

Google Play for Work will allow any app in the store to be deployed by an IT team without the need for it to be provisioned for control purposes, Google said.

Users will be able to install any application approved by their business from the store, and the organisation's administrators can delete or push out apps.

Partnerships

Google has partnered with a long list of companies across devices, applications, networking, and management. 

Major handset makers including Samsung, HTC, Motorola and BlackBerry have jumped on board, as have mobile management providers like MobileIron, Airwatch and Citrix, and software and cloud companies such as Adobe, Box, SAP and Salesforce.

Mobility management partners will integrate with standardised management APIs to create a way to manage all Android devices from one dashboard, Google said.

Software vendors and developers can create a version of any Google Play app that can be securely deployed to any Android device without alterations or wrapping, the company said.

Standard management configurations can also be created to allow IT to apply policies per app.

"For many, [Android] phones have become essential tools to help us complete important work tasks like checking email, editing documents, reviewing sales pipelines and approving deals," Android director of product management Rajen Sheth wrote on the Google blog.

"But for the majority of workers, smartphones and tablets are underutilised in the workplace. Their business and innovation potential remain largely untapped."

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