Having conquered the consumer market, Google is taking steps to make Android OS enterprise-compliant. One such new initiative is called “Android Enterprise Recommended”. It is publicized as a means of finding “the best enterprise devices and services Android has to offer”. A list of the first set of Android Enterprise Recommended devices is ready.
The consumer market has always been Android’s strong forte. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons that Android OS has thrived is its consumer-facing outlook. Millions of smartphones in the hands of consumers around the world run Google’s mobile operating system.
What is Android Enterprise Recommended?
Android Enterprise Recommended is a programme through which Google recommends devices that meet enterprise requirements that it has set. Google’s statement says:
Android Enterprise Recommended establishes best practices and common requirements for devices and services, backed by a thorough testing process conducted by Google. Devices in the program meet an elevated set of specifications for hardware, deployment, security updates, and user experience to help organizations handle the most challenging and diverse business environments. In addition, OEMs in the program receive an enhanced level of technical support and training from Google.
All phones in the programme will business-oriented apps and IT services, as well as provide guaranteed security updates every 90 days.
Available Android Enterprise Recommended devices
As at the launch of the programme, Google had the following Android devices on its Android Enterprise Recommended devices list:
1. BlackBerry: KEYone and Motion.
2. Google: Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL
3. Huawei: Mate 10, Mate 10 Pro, P10, P10 Plus, P10 Lite, and P smart
4. LG: V30 and G6
4. Motorola: X4 and Z2
5. Nokia: 8
6. Sony Xperia: XZ1, XZ1 Compact, XZ Premium, XA2, and XA2 Ultra.
Where Are Samsung Devices?
The absence of Samsung smartphones on Google’s initial Android Enterprise Recommended devices is conspicuous. One wonders why none of them is listed. Samsung had taken steps to build security and enterprise features into their devices. This was ahead of most other Android device manufacturers.
Google says that more devices will be tested verified and added to the list, so be on the lookout.
So, if your company’s IT department are looking for the most suitable devices for deployment, the above-listed devices have been certified by Google as fit for the task.
Supposedly, they are more secure because they meet Google’s Enterprise certifications. But are they?
For example, the reality is that there years after launch, apart from Pixel phones, none of the above recommended devices have had a track record of timely Android software updates or monthly security patches. Not even the Android One Nokia 8.
Android One phones, by definition, are phones that run stock Android and get software updates and security patches as fast as possible, preferably as fast as Google’s own Pixel smartphones.
In reality, Android One phones have generally been late to get updates, sometimes getting updated 6 months after a new software version is released by Google.
Pixel smartphones exempted, none of the other phones listed as Android Enterprise Recommended devices meet up with the most basic standard of fast software updates. I’d be wary of adopting such phones for enterprise use.
The barest minimum of enterprise security should be up-to-date software and up-to-date security patches. None of these phones meet up.
Google’s Android Enterprise Recommended devices is laudable on paper. But in practice, it falls apart at the basics. It all sounds like more marketing fluff.
Use them at your own risk, and be completely aware that you are running your enterprise solutions on outdated software.
At the end of the day, having said and done all, it appears that only Google Pixels and Apple iPhones can be trusted to uphold enterprise security. Eligible Pixel phones and Apple iPhones all get the latest software updates within days of release. You should probably stick with those.