October 2, 2015 By Rob Patey 5 min read

Android for Work suited up Google’s giant mobile operating system (OS) for office productivity, security and a bevy of new bring-your-own-device (BYOD) choices.

With the bag about to be opened on Android M (Marshmallow), Android for Work Product Management Director Andrew Toy is here to tell you how Android for Work is “s’more” business ready than ever.

Question: Andrew, let’s take a step back for our first question. What was the one thing you wanted Android for Work to change in mobile business?

Answer: We were interested in transforming the way people and entire companies worked through mobility. We’ve had mobile in the enterprise for some time now, but it hasn’t impacted the way we work on the same magnitude as our personal lives. Today, it’s still a lot about mobile email, basic security (lock, block and wipe) and some very specific business apps.

In looking at Android for Work, we see the next wave of opportunity to bring true mobility to every worker, every use case and every workflow. Instead of just thinking of mobile first, we’re imagining a world where mobile just is. It’s woven into the very fabric of business processes, not a mantra constrained by false hierarchies of device access. It’s where mobile delivers true financial results instead of just email. This doesn’t happen overnight. But that’s what’s exciting.

What was the state of Android at work before Android for Work was unwrapped in Lollipop? And where do we stand as Marshmallow gets in on the campfire discussion behind changing business?

Android was being deployed at scale across many companies, but IT was left managing devices in many different ways, depending on device manufacturer or OS version. This created overhead and very practical day-to-day concerns for companies wanting to bolster BYOD productivity.

With Android for Work, we built a consistent platform for managing mobile across the whole mobile ecosystem. We still expect and highly encourage device manufacturers to continue enhancing and innovating on top of that with their own devices, but we felt a common foundation would only make those efforts easier. The launch of Android for Work was met with a lot of interest and excitement, with more than 10,000 companies signed up to test and deploy Android for Work en masse.

How will the upcoming Android Marshmallow release refine or redefine these initial enterprise productivity boons? What will be lessened from IT’s mobility management workload?

We’ve worked hard to build on the foundation of Lollipop by directly incorporating the feedback we’ve gotten from our partners and customers.

We’ve made it easier for IT to manage and deploy Android devices while also enhancing security capabilities in partnership with enterprise mobility management solutions. We’ve also worked to make the experience better for users, providing more transparency and notifications in the Work Profile.

Now, one of the big investments in Marshmallow was expanding the capabilities of Android as a single-use or kiosk solution. It could be a hotel check-in, a customized medical device, a menu tablet on restaurant tables for ordering your meal or a dedicated entertainment device for airlines. We’re looking at not only serving the traditional knowledge [to] workers and executives, [but also] we’re expanding the pie for Android to transform entire industries.

Describe the partner-to-programmer ecosystem around Android and the role they play in enterprise adoption.

Android has always enjoyed a large ecosystem of partners dedicated to helping customers get more out of mobile. In the enterprise space, our partners have taken the power of Android and refined it specifically for business customers.

They’ve added innovation and capabilities on top of the platform that has created an array of price points and utilities for customers. Now that Google is investing in Android for Work, we’re looking to our partners to expand their work and provide more choice and innovation to enterprise customers. We’re investing in the platform and enabling more work-ready devices to hit the market, and we’re expecting our partners to run with this opportunity.

Cybersecurity threats are rising in mobile at an exponential rate. How does Google approach security for Android?

We designed the platform with a holistic view of security, deploying multiple layers of defense to protect Android. Every Android device has application sandboxing and exploit mitigation technologies that are designed to make it difficult to attack devices — and even more difficult to access data. In addition to these built-in defenses, Google services such as Verify Apps and Safety Net go down to the data level of protection. Those services allow us to use data, Google’s immense compute capabilities and our knowledge of mobile security to constantly monitor for security threats and events.

Last but not least, we support an open ecosystem for security. This means that security researchers anywhere in the ecosystem are capable of introducing security innovation. We see OEMs, academics, security researchers and even government researchers contributing to make Android security even more advanced as time moves on.

If you want more proof, we’ve provided details in the “Android Security 2014 Year in Review.”

As enterprises continue to deploy apps and leverage more tools for real-time collaboration on work, how does Android for Work balance a familiar user experience while (seemingly conversely) increasing IT control?

One of the fundamental challenges we faced with Android for Work was the need to ensure users retained everything they loved about Android — choice, flexibility and power — while still giving IT the control necessary to make these devices work-ready. We achieved this by leveraging the multi-user framework in Android to create the concept of a Work Profile, allowing access to work data in a secure and separate manner without losing a familiar user experience.

From one home screen, users can see badged work apps that live alongside their personal apps. The work and personal apps can’t talk to each other and share data. IT is able to manage and wipe just the business apps, so no one worries about losing their photos or compromising privacy. We think this approach balances the needs of IT while ensuring users don’t sacrifice anything when they use their Android device for work.

Can you discuss the different forms of platform management for Android for Work and how you see customers using these to support their employees today and tomorrow?

Android for Work gives companies the ability to manage devices in different ways depending on the deployment scenario. In a typical BYOD case, Android for Work allows the company to create and manage a Work Profile on the employee’s device.

In a BYOD scenario, on devices that do not have those new platform capabilities (for example, devices prior to Lollipop), the Android for Work App is a downloadable application from Google Play.

In a full-device management scenario, the Work-Managed Device model allows the company to manage everything about the physical device, including security policies and application management.

So as you wrap up Lollipop and stoke the campfires for Marshmallow, why Android for Work in the enterprise?

We believe in two things: Mobility is transformative on a scale we have not seen yet, and not every company is the same. What businesses require is a tool to fully tap the breadth of data in an organization while on the go, coupled with flexibility to cater to their specific needs. Android is the platform that can help customers really achieve mobilization transformation because it offers the breadth of options, features and device diversity that customers need.

To learn even more, sign up for the Oct. 8 webinar “Android for Work: Enhanced Mobile Security in Your Back Pocket.”

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