It’s that time of year again, when Google releases its latest version of the Android OS. In keeping with the tradition of dessert-themed names, the newest edition is dubbed Android 9 Pie. Focusing on more efficient workflows, Pie brings an array of new features to get tasks done quickly. But the new release offers more than just productivity enhancements; it’s built around the user’s everyday life.
Aside from ease of use, Android is focusing on how users actually interact with their devices. With its new Dashboard feature, Android 9 shows users how much time they’ve spent in specific apps and on the device overall. This ties to a new feature that allows users to set daily app timers. Once an app’s limit has been reached, its icon grays out on the home screen to remind users of their daily goals.
Android 9 also assists users when it’s time to hit the hay by fading the screen to grayscale and offering the ability to activate Do Not Disturb at any time by turning their device over. These mindful features are aimed at helping users take a step back from their devices and focus on the world around them.
Fewer Taps and Swipes, More AI
Android 9 focuses on the user experience, which will change dramatically with new gesture controls to quickly navigate between apps. However, the main driving force will be its AI. Intuitive new technology learns how users go about their day — plugging in a pair of headphones will pull up a user’s most recent playlist, for example. Location detection can identify when users are at the office and prompt the device to surface apps they use at work.
Another piece of Android Pie AI is called Slices (pun intended). Slices pulls relevant information from apps the user searches. For instance, if a user searches for his or her preferred ride-sharing app, Slices brings up prices and pickup times automatically.
Enhanced Security and Productivity Features
Pie adds even more enterprise features to the library Android has developed over the years, and these should be of particular interest to IT and security leaders looking to enhance Android device management.
Now, users can access their work apps with a simple tap. Work apps can be organized into the work tab, which can be toggled on and off; with a quick gesture, users can hide their work apps when they’re not on the clock.
Android 9 also offers simpler multi-user support. Users can share a single device for shift work or public kiosks. While this capability has been around for some time, IT and security leaders will laud these improvements. Another heavily requested feature new to Android 9 allows IT admins to control over-the-air (OTA) updates. This new ability allows IT professionals to freeze updates for up to 90 days, giving them time to determine whether the update will affect their fleet.
Pie boasts new security features as well, including Android Protected Confirmation, which triggers apps to prompt users to approve a brief statement. This allows the app to reaffirm that the user would like to complete a sensitive transaction, such as making a payment.
Android 9 also provides unified biometric authentication dialogs for enterprise apps. This creates a standard look, feel and placement for the dialog, giving users more confidence that they’re authenticating against a trusted biometric credential checker.
One of the most important new developments in Android 9 is the deprecation of device admin; the feature will be removed and unavailable starting with Android 10 (Android Q). All organizations that use Android devices in their operations should move to Android Enterprise to improve their corporate device and data security.
Below are some additional baked-in security features.
- Enhanced lockdown mode allows administrators to configure the screen and settings available when an app is locked to the launcher.
- Native support for shared devices introduces the concept of an ephemeral user for dedicated devices, aka corporate-owned, single-user (COSU) devices. Ephemeral users are short-term users intended for cases in which multiple users share a single, dedicated device.
- Additional security restrictions include overriding APN settings, disabling Airplane mode and other screen settings, and configuring time and time zone.
- Restrictions on sharing into a work profile can prevent users from sharing personal data into a work profile on their device.
- Work profile lock screen challenges can require users to set a separate lock screen challenge for their work profile.
- Streamlined QR code enrollment offers a built-in QR code library and provides additional configuration options.
Baking Android 9 Pie Into the Enterprise With UEM
So, what’s next? First things first: Make sure that your unified endpoint management (UEM) solution supports the latest Android 9 software version. And to ensure you’re adequately managing and securing Android devices at work, we have an upcoming learning opportunity. In our Sept. 6 webinar, we’ll discuss all the new Android 9 features and run a live demo.