25
Mar
L

There's nothing like a good rumor about the next version of Android. As we approach I/O 2014, we're sure to hear more and more rumors, some true, many false. The Information - generally reliable in the arena of leaks and rumors - has published one of the first "L Release" rumors, today indicating that Android's next major version bump (which the publication speculates could arrive as soon as I/O) will help Google make headway into the corporate adoption arena, convincing companies to adopt Android phones rather than the iPhone (which has already made significant gains in enterprise) as employee handset of choice.

Many of the new Android-for-business features will be a part of the next version of Android, known internally as “L release,” that is expected to be unveiled at Google’s annual conference for software developers in June, though an earlier announcement is possible.

To accomplish this, the upcoming release - according to The Information's sources, who include someone involved with the effort and another person briefed on it - will carry additional security features for corporate managers, enabling those in charge to remotely wipe portions of a device that contain corporate information, while leaving personal settings and data intact. This is expected to be one part of a new group of APIs enabling new security tools to be utilized.

The Information also says that Google has been working with US chip makers and manufacturers to allow things like password storage on chips, and "stronger" data encryption.

For some of the new Android security features, Google has been working with U.S. chip makers and device manufacturers to allow for the storage of sensitive information like passwords on chips, where they are safe from hackers. Stronger data encryption is also part of the plan.

What's more, the Information notes that Google has considered a separate approval process for enterprise apps, and availability limited to employee devices. It isn't clear from the report how likely this process is to show up, but evidently Google has informed potential corporate customers of their intended changes.

Google also has considered a separate approval process for enterprise applications to make sure they are safe and a way for companies to offer certain apps on the Google Play app store but make them available only to their employees’ Android devices.

One more option may be the ability to choose specific apps that require additional authentication (like biometric readings) before an employee can use them.

With KNOX, Samsung has already begun trying to gain traction with enterprise buyers, but the security enhancements offered by KNOX are limited to select Samsung devices and as it stands, KNOX evidently doesn't satisfy security requirements for certain industries with strict compliance regulations like healthcare and finance.

If the Information's sources are correct and Google can pull off advanced security features in Android, available to all manufacturers making certified devices, it may just beat alternatives to the punch. If you've got access to the Information, check out the full story at the link below.

Source: The Information (Subscription required)

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • Defenestratus

    I have to use a damn iPhone for work and it grates on me like the plague. Its a terrible user experience that I cannot tolerate. I've already thrown the thing once and I've had it less than 2 weeks.

    • Dominic Powell

      but its magical!

    • mustbepbs

      I panic when I use iProducts because I feel so out of place and the UI is so basic. I mean, the "Back" button is based on the app and is all over the place.

    • gmaninvan

      How the iPhone became popular with enterprise without access to the file system is beyond me. That makes zero sense.

      • Scott

        It's because they're easy to use with exchange. That's the only reason. And exchange patches are pushed out relatively quickly. I personally had an iPhone for work and absolutely hated it because I didn't have access to hardly any IT apps that I needed to use. I know have a G2 and I love it... and I'm the sysadmin for our organization.

        • shadowx360

          IT Project Manager here. Agreed. My mind was blown when I realized that iOS has no accessible file system but it's at least better than trying to support a million manufacture skins. Connecting corporate exchange accounts on iPhones require one set of instructions. Instructions on the million flavors of Android: go get the IT guy to add it. Nowadays I recommend iPhone for anyone tech-illiterate, at least I can probably easily Google up an answer to their question.

          • Aron Tripp

            Shadowx360 - Not sure what you are talking about. I do phone management and handle several different flavors and models of Android. Everyone of them is exactly the same and quite easy(except when they enter the wrong password and tell you it's the right password, but it's not and they won't admit it until I make them do it again and it's fine. Sorry Tangent!), just like iOS. Even have several 3rd party apps running (Mailwise Beta is my driver). Are you running into 2.1 phones or something?

          • shadowx360

            For tier 1 security, it's BYOD. Problem is service accounts where account access for Exchange is tied to internal domain accounts (email and username are not the same). Even getting wifi with the enterprise wifi security is a pain on most devices. With the least tech-savy, even worse is when they decide to install third party email/SMS/"Antivirus" apps and come to me wondering why they have ads all over their phone and either not getting emails or getting them 3 times. And then insist to me it has nothing to do with the billion apps they probably found by searching for 'free adware downloads'.

          • Jon

            THanks for Mailwise! Didn't know of this app, does it work fine with activesync? I've found a lot of issues with K-9, and touchdown is a paid app. I'm having some issues with a Miui running phone (Xiaomi, it's the stock ROM).

          • Aron Tripp

            Mailwise is great. No problems with active sync. Much better than stock samsung. Even has combined mailbox with gmail (although I prefer stock Gmail app)

          • Jon

            Hate stock Samsung. I have an S4, but using Google Edition. However I have to admit Samsung's email allow for font formatting while google's won't. Stock only writes plaintext. Thanks, will test it for the Xiaomi user :)

            EDIT: Huhhh nevermind. "This item cannot be installed in your device's country".

          • gmaninvan

            Mailwise is nice.......cloudmagic is nicer

          • gmaninvan

            This makes sense. However, why do you have to deploy a million android devices? Why not just deploy one? A Nexus for example as they are cost effective for corporations and have access to the file system.

          • TheyCallMeEllis

            Keep in mind that even on Android, unless you root it, you can't access the entire file system either. They have a sandboxing system of their own, albeit somewhat less restrictive than iOS.

        • Jon

          Same situation. Goes easy on Exchange. And you have the apple configurator to restrict the phones and control them. And then you have all these third party apps such as Mobileiron, Good et all trying to figure out their way through three different platforms, sets of permissions etc. None of them work really great in my experience. And Android was missing really much a platform or way to administer batches of phones. I, for one welcome this. Maybe people will move then to androids. Here 90% of our users are either old blackberries or iPhones.

      • NinoBr0wn

        That's always seemed odd, to say the least, to me too.

      • TheyCallMeEllis

        Ease of use with Exchange, built in MDM APIs so administrators can configure mail (this can't be done on Android except by a few vendors, and different with each vendor, or by using Nitrodesk Touchdown with a per-seat license). Sandboxed apps that offer better security, a vetted app eco system, signed local apps that can be controlled, strong support for certificates and the ability to use MDM software to distribute and revoke those certificates, ability to use MDM to remove corporate apps from BYOD devices when required. Beyond that, not much.

        That said: Most if not all of these features are coming to Android soon, so Android may finally have a good enterprise story.

  • Chris Martinelli

    With Exchange 2010 or higher, we already have this ability with Android. You can remove hte mail setup, or remotely wipe the whole device. I have done ti to my oen phone to make sure it works. - It does.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Mail isn't the only thing that Enterprises may store on the device and want to wipe though. The new APIs will make that process configurable.

      • Chris Martinelli

        True, and more configurable is better. I just read the above as if it didn't already exist in some form today, and it does. You can right now, today, either wipe the mail from the device, or do a total hard reset wiping everything (exactly as if you did a "factory data reset" in the settings menu.

        • http://google.com/+derekross Derek Ross

          Yep. Exchange Admin here. I've wiped a handful of devices, bringing them back to factory settings. It works great.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            Well, that's not being contested here. We already know that works.

          • Chris Martinelli

            Yup, it works and works fast too. I did it as a test and within 5 seconds my device was rebooting, totally wiped. NICE!

          • RedPandaAlex

            I have a question for you that I've never been able to get an answer to. Can you require a protected lockscreen without requiring that it be a PIN? I think it's ridiculous that at my office I can set a PIN of 0000 but I can't use pattern lock. I don't know if that's a limitation of exchange or if it's something the admins control.

          • http://google.com/+derekross Derek Ross

            Sadly there is nothing for Pattern lock. Only Password and PIN.

            http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb123994(v=exchg.141).aspx

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          I haven't dealt with enterprise in a while, but don't you have to give them permission to wipe your whole device when you're adding Exchange? Or has that been changed? I understand they may opt in for wiping just mail, but if they have an option to wipe all, I wouldn't be comfortable with that.

          • Chris Martinelli

            There is a standard disclaimer you need to accept when setting up mail on the device that gives the company the rights to wipe the whole thing. The alternative is to not use your phone for corporate data. We have had a few people not like it. The answer is, "Well then, feel free to use Outlook Web access. If you want corporate data on your phone, we have the right to wipe it in the event you abruptly quit" .

            I would imagine with most companies, it wouldn't ever be used on a normal, 2 weeks notice, peaceful termination. It would be used when someone leaves in a negative fashion.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            Exactly. So looks like that may be changing. At least that's the hope.

          • Ethan G

            Yeah, you get a pop up asking you to give administrative rights to the phone so it could be wiped remotely. That said, as you pointed out, remote wiping ability isn't what's important here, it's that you could wipe out only the corporate data while leaving the rest of the user data intact. That way if an employee needs the data wiped but has pics of their kids or whatnot, you can ditch the corporate data and he doesn't lose that stuff (provided he doesn't back it up to the cloud).

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      It sounds to me, though, that what the Information is describing is a set of tools that will give administrators a LOT more options than just wiping email or the whole device.

  • Sam Del Valle
    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      My money is on Lumpy Hedgehog Milk.

    • Ricardo

      yup, lollipop is my bet. And marzipan for the "M release"

    • LeChuck

      I prefer Liquid KitKat

    • jesuguru

      Lollipop would have android-haters caricaturing Andy with a lollipop stick up his a**

  • hp420

    $39 a month for a subscription to The Information?!?!?!?! HOT DAMN!!! Who do they think they are, WSJ? Hell, even that is only about $150 for 6 months at full newsstand price

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Worth it to me, not sure about the public. I don't think it's aimed at the public - their primary audience is tech reporters.

  • jules

    For average consumers....In the cloud use encrypted folder(s) with Boxcryptor Classic. On device with EDS use on the fly read and write working Truecrypt container(s) for files. In case remotely wiping doesn't work after loosing device an extra security layer.

  • G0B1IN5486

    These new security features would be nice but I just wish they could implement a global proxy with authentication for all apps. We can't even think about using Android devices in our organisation with them being so impaired due to this.

    • didibus

      Agreed, using VPN is one thing, but ability to proxy all internet traffic would be grand.

  • Simon Belmont

    Interesting. L release, eh?

    So, KItKat might only get one major version (4.4.x). I actually wouldn't have minded if they kept KitKat for an Android 4.5 or something, but then again, maybe this means Android 5.0, eh?

    • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

      Oh don't you worry, there will be a 4.5 release just before the I/O, with a minor 4.4.3 probably in a couple of weeks

      • MasterMuffin

        They don't just randomly do major 4.x updates just before announcing an update in I/O

        • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

          I wouldn't really call 4.5 a major release unless it maintains an absolutely New Name, which is doubtful, most likely 4.5 will still be a KitKat build. And releasing that about 1.5 months before 5.0 announcement is okay

      • Simon Belmont

        Yeah. I know we'll see Android 4.4.3 shortly.

        As for I/O, it'll either be Android 4.5 or Android 5.0. There's really no definitive answer to that until we see it ourselves, and either could be an L update, but they sat on Jelly Bean for three updates, which is why I surmised that maybe an L update could be an indication of Android 5.0, but it's really just pure speculation.

  • BozzyB

    What about different user accounts like on tablets for phones? One private and one corperate.

  • gmaninvan

    Lollipop!!

  • Leonardo Baez

    waht L means? Lemonpay?

  • Aron Tripp

    Lifesaver???

  • Tj Hariharan

    This is such a stupid move by google. FIX THE DAMNED EXCHANGE EMAIL FIRST...you know why corporate is not using android..CUZ THE EXCHANGE INTEGRATION SUCKS. That includes email app. I mean no..no threaded view? Nested folders causing issues? NO ability to mark folders as "favorite" or have certain folders show up on top?

    • Suman Gandham
      • TheyCallMeEllis

        Good product, but it gets expensive when you have thousands of users.

      • Tj Hariharan

        corporate policy bans anytHing but the normal email app and a few others from skinned android like Samsung etc. citing some or the other issue

    • Chris Martinelli

      That's just ann app... plenty apps support it.

      • Tj Hariharan

        One's that DON'T look like ass? Looks aren't all that important, but there's a line where the UI is so bad it actually makes it less usable..

  • A2theC

    I find it ironic that iOS has found it's way into the corporate realm at all with no file system and all of its security loop holes, even though they need to meet "strict compliance regulations." The US govt doesn't allow the president to use iOS for "security reasons" the one thing they have done right in a long time.