O Me, O My! Android O and Its Impact on the Enterprise

As the summer winds down, the next big wave of mobile OS updates is upon us — a seasonal trend that brings about excitement and positive change for both consumers and security leaders.

With today’s release of Google Android Oreo, IBM MaaS360 with Watson cognitive unified endpoint management (UEM) is announcing same-day support for version 8.0 to ensure all customers can take advantage of new features and security functionality as compatible devices upgrade to the latest OS.

To avoid any lapses in security or your ability to support Android users, we recommend checking with your mobile device management (MDM), enterprise mobility management (EMM) or UEM solution provider to ensure they’ve taken appropriate measures to support today’s OS update.

To keep your stress level low and excitement high, we’ve lined up the new features to be aware of in the context of the mobile enterprise to ensure that your IT team is well-prepared to support what’s now available for download.

Watch the on-demand Webinar: Android O for the Enterprise

Significant Mobile Security Modifications

With billions of applications available in the Google Play Store, it is becoming harder for users and IT professionals to track and trust specific ones. By instituting stricter guidelines and developer review processes for public apps, Google has made it even easier for users to trust that their apps will function exactly as expected before downloading them. Daily scans of all apps with Google Play Protect can ensure that they remain enterprise-ready.

Furthering mobile app security, installs from external sources are now limited to user-authorized applications. In previous Android versions, a user would opt in or out of unknown source installs via the app settings. This makes it less likely that an unsafe app install could take place without the user’s knowledge or consent.

Also new with O, developers are able to utilize a Safe Browsing API for web. When enabled, a warning message is displayed to mobile users any time they click a potentially malicious URL, reducing the likelihood they encounter any gotchas in their browsing session. MaaS360 has instituted the Safe Browsing API within its Secure Mail app.

Better Android Device Performance

There’s a lot going on behind the scenes on an Android, which can sometimes wear the battery down more quickly than users would like. To remedy this, Android O has reduced the number of processes that run simultaneously and limited location information collection, which will also improve boot performance.

In situations where two or more devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network, Neighbor Awareness Networking (NAN) can now help associated users connect with one another to share data messages, pictures, videos and more with ease and speed.

Using MaaS360, you can now take advantage of improvements to implementation for web clips and shortcuts on devices. The UEM has also implemented StrictMode detectors to improve app performance and help identify any potential bugs.

A More Fluid User Experience

Notification Channels have been rolled out, making it easier for users to stay on top of updates related to their everyday apps. The channels are organized on a per-app basis, allowing for simple selection and effective management. This is particularly useful for enterprise apps such as email, which are almost always in flux with new messages and invitations.

Icons have also received a face-lift. Some will appear differently in shape, size and construct, depending on developer preferences. Also, badges will now appear to display updates. When the badges light up, users can click and hold on any app icon to get a preview and additional context before actually tapping in.

Of course, multitasking changes are always welcome. O features a picture-in-picture (PIP) mode, which enables users to watch and listen to video content in the corner of the screen while working on something else.

Further Improvements to Android for Enterprise

Google continues to strive for a better experience for Android at work. With O, there are enterprise changes to be aware of, and they should be supported by your MDM, EMM or UEM.

For one, fully managed devices are now able to have work profiles installed, making it easy for IT to separate policies from apps without sacrificing manageability over both.

Administrators can now heighten their authentication security by instituting a timeout period that goes into effect when a device is being unlocked. Once the timer runs out, a strong authentication method (e.g., an alphanumeric password) replaces a weaker one (e.g., a fingerprint).

API delegation capabilities are also available to administrators. These make it possible to take action on Android O devices and apps without needing any permissions. They can also monitor network level activity on apps, which was not available with past versions.

With previous versions of Android, customers have had to rely on their users to manually configure access to proxy servers for Wi-Fi. Now, this can be done directly from MaaS360.

What’s Coming Next With MaaS360?

In the near future, MaaS360 will support zero-touch setup for the Pixel Nougat and devices running Android 8.0. This support speeds up the end-to-end corporate device deployment process — from initial purchase to device assignment by the administrator to the user powering on the device and signing in. Administrators will be pleased to know that their newly purchased corporate devices can be drop shipped directly to the end user.

These are just a few of the new features to look out for, but there are plenty more that will impact the way you manage your Android devices at work. Take full advantage of today’s release by watching an on-demand webinar with IBM and Google outlining Android O and its enterprise impact.

Watch the on-demand Webinar: Android O for the Enterprise

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John Harrington Jr.

Portfolio Marketing for IBM MaaS360

John has spent the past 6 years working for an industry-leading Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) based unified endpoint management (UEM) provider, specializing in product marketing. In this capacity, John works closely with product development and offering management counterparts to develop creative assets and messaging that differentiate IBM MaaS360 with Watson as the industry’s first and only cognitive UEM solution. John represents IBM through his participation in live educational webcasts, industry events, conferences and trade shows, and is a blog contributor on SecurityIntelligence.com. In his spare time, John enjoys exploring the city of Philadelphia with his fiancée and their two beagles. He is an avid cyclist, cook and home brewer who loves watching his favorite sports teams dominate (all except for that last part; he is a Washington Redskins fan).