Google I/O 2014: Android in the Enterprise

This week, Google has taken centre-stage with their annual I/O conference aimed at the developer community, in San Francisco, California, introducing Android in the enterprise.

In similar style to Apple's WWDC last month, Google have made the most of their chance to impress both consumer and enterprise audiences with exciting new announcements, as well as improvements to their existing range of products.

The main focus of this year's conference was Android, and more specifically Google's ambitions to assimilate Android into as many aspects of daily life as possible, with seamless contextually-aware transitioning through cars, TVs, wearable devices and even into the workplace.

The opening keynote introduced Google's latest version of the Android OS (5.0), which will be known as Android L. Perhaps one of the most innovative improvements here is the platform's new design language, which Google are calling 'Material Design'. This will run across Android phones and tablets, Chrome OS, smartwatches, televisions and the web.

Interestingly for businesses, Google revealed that security and management features for enterprise users will be incorporated into the entire range of Android mobile devices, which they've dubbed 'Android for Work'. Some of these features will be exclusive to Samsung devices which run Samsungã??s KNOX security software. The capabilities of the KNOX software will also be made compatible with previous versions of the Android OS alongside these updates.

Users will be able to keep personal and professional information completely isolated from each other on their devices, allowing enterprise IT to monitor apps and data being used for work on an acute level, without having to apply any additional coding or updating existing apps. This has clear benefits for organisations struggling with BYOD policies, rogue IT issues and, of course, it eliminates the need for any employees to carry two phones.

Google's Senior VP of Android, Chrome and Apps, Sundar Pichai said, "With L, there will be a whole set of APIs to unify both experiences for a user, one for personal and another for corporate. That's full enterprise security."

These enterprise-focused applications will be available to buy and deploy in bulk through the Google Play Store, and will be compatible with devices from a broad range of leading brands such as Sony, LG and Motorola once Android L has been fully released later this year.

Android has generally been regarded as inferior in comparison to other operating systems when it comes to enterprise applications and data in the past. However, these connotations could seemingly begin to disappear as the dual-functionality of Android for Work will significantly ease a number of mobility challenges for enterprises.

Video via The Verge