Skip to main content

Google Launches Business-Focused 'Android For Work'

The concept of having a separate work phone for business is nothing new. While it's a little bit late to the party, Google is taking the idea of a separate work phone and combining it with your personal device to create a new Android platform strictly for the workplace called Android for Work. The company believes that this new program will provide all the necessary business tools that otherwise wouldn't be available for regular Android users.

At the heart of the program are what Google calls "work profiles." This creates a separate work profile to keep work data separate from other data on the device. IT management can install secure work apps on a device, but they can't view the user's personal content or any other data outside of the work profile. Additionally, any device running Android 5.0 Lollipop with Google for Work also gets enhanced SELinux security and multi-user support.

If you're running Android Ice Cream Sandwich through KitKat, Android for Work isn't a native app, so the company created an app version of the software. The app can deliver secure emails, calendar data, contacts and documents, and it can download work-approved apps. Just like the work profile, IT can also approve the downloadable apps located within the app.

Aside from the profile and app, the company created a suite of apps that works with emails, contacts and the calendar. These apps also allow editing on documents, just like in Google Docs.

With the entire program focused on business and work, Google partnered with various companies such as SAP, BlackBerry, Samsung, Adobe and Cisco to bring Android for Work not only to as many smartphone devices as possible, but to give the program credibility with some of the leading names in API management, business apps and networking.

Google wants Android for Work to be the de facto choice for business software, and considering the backing it has from multiple, high-profile companies, it could very well be easily adopted in the coming weeks and months.

Follow Rexly Peñaflorida II @Heirdeux. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

  • smeezekitty
    "Additionally, any device running Android 5.0 Lollipop with Google for Work also gets enhanced SELinux security and multi-user support."

    And which Governmental entity developed the code for SELinux again?
    No thanks.
    Reply
  • tomfreak
    business focus on windows 10 ecosystem.
    Reply
  • digitalvampire
    "Additionally, any device running Android 5.0 Lollipop with Google for Work also gets enhanced SELinux security and multi-user support."

    And which Governmental entity developed the code for SELinux again?
    No thanks.

    The code has, of course, been vetted and doesn't do anything it's not supposed to. Being free/open source software (GPL), anyone can go and check it at any time to make sure. It's also incredibly easy to check to see if what you end up running is different from the (legally required) supplied code. I'd normally have your same caution, but it's not needed in this case.
    Reply
  • ethanolson
    With a name of "digitalvampire" I think we may have a suspicion as to who you work for.

    Also, SELinux has been in mainline code since Kernal 2.6. Why hasn't it been put in Android long ago?
    Reply
  • digitalvampire
    With a name of "digitalvampire" I think we may have a suspicion as to who you work for.

    Also, SELinux has been in mainline code since Kernal 2.6. Why hasn't it been put in Android long ago?

    I hate my name honestly, just never went back to change it. Haha. And I'm a college student (Electrical/Computer Engineering) and F/OSS developer in my spare time. As for why it hasn't been included, I can give two good reasons off the top of my head, but I'm sure there are more.

    1) SELinux is very strict and is often considered overkill on security. So much so that people often just disable it on their home distributions. I did for years, but I don't anymore. I imagine this is why they are only enabling it on their Business version (where more sensitive data is often kept/transmitted) vs the regular version (where cat pictures tend to take precedence).

    2) There is also a small performance penalty for using it. While it is not noticeable on a desktop or laptop, it could actually be a pain on a phone or tablet.
    Reply
  • smeezekitty
    15375811 said:
    "Additionally, any device running Android 5.0 Lollipop with Google for Work also gets enhanced SELinux security and multi-user support."

    And which Governmental entity developed the code for SELinux again?
    No thanks.

    The code has, of course, been vetted and doesn't do anything it's not supposed to. Being free/open source software (GPL), anyone can go and check it at any time to make sure. It's also incredibly easy to check to see if what you end up running is different from the (legally required) supplied code. I'd normally have your same caution, but it's not needed in this case.
    That's not a sure thing. A backdoor can be written to be subtle and difficult to notice.

    Regardless, I always compile my kernels without SELinux support. It is a massive useless nuisance at best
    and potentially a backdoor at worst.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    15380811 said:
    That's not a sure thing. A backdoor can be written to be subtle and difficult to notice.
    This logic is pretty suspect. SELinux closes many potential attack vectors, which are much more likely to be involved in any exploit against you than a hypothetical backdoor or two that it might open.

    Now, as for the inconvenience and possible performance impact, I think those are valid reasons not to use it (I don't).

    FWIW, I'm worried about NSA surveillance in general, but not of me, specifically. I worry about things like its potential misuse by unaccountable bureaucrats and political operatives. If Watergate happened in 2015, we'd probably never hear about it. That said, SELinux doesn't top my list of concerns and I feel it's probably no more exploitable than anything else Google might use.
    Reply