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Android and iOS unveil more enterprise-focused features

Google and Apple have the enterprise in their crosshairs with their newest mobile OSes. Android 7.0 Nougat tightens security, and iOS 10 boasts new business-focused features.

Google and Apple have released new versions of Android and iOS, and each operating system puts more emphasis on the enterprise.

Google is doing so by tightening Android security with better file-level encryption and a more streamlined update process. Apple is making its play with new enterprise-focused features such as CallKit.

Learn more about the newest iterations of Android and iOS, including how Android 7.0 Nougat splits data into two categories and how iOS 10 keeps user identity private even with its predictive capabilities.

Android alters the update process in Nougat

The latest version of Android automatically downloads the latest updates whenever users reboot their devices. The updates occur in the background so users can continue working with their devices. Prior to Nougat, users had to wait at least 15 minutes for the update process to complete before they could use their devices.

As long as users regularly reboot their devices, this is good news for IT pros -- devices that do not have the latest updates are much more susceptible to attacks. Automatic updates can also help combat fragmentation -- which makes IT pros' jobs much harder because they have to manage so many different versions of the OS -- because they keep every Android device on the same page.

Nougat ups its file encryption game

As long as users regularly reboot their devices, this is good news for IT pros -- devices that do not have the latest updates are much more susceptible to attacks.

With Android Nougat, IT can use enterprise mobility management software to encrypt data at the file and app level. This means admins do not have to encrypt entire devices; instead, they can encrypt business apps and data and leave personal data alone. The OS also sandboxes apps so they cannot access data in other apps without users' permission.

A device running Android Nougat starts in Direct Boot mode before a user unlocks it. Direct Boot splits data into two groups, Device Encrypted Storage (DES) and Credential Encrypted Storage (CES). Users can only view CES data after they unlock their devices, and most data is designated for CES. DES is usually reserved for apps that deliver notifications users want to see without unlocking their devices, such as a messaging or alarm app. Developers must register specific apps to fall under the DES category so users can see the data without unlocking their devices.

Privacy in iOS 10

In past versions of iOS, users have had the option to use predictive text to anticipate what they are typing in different apps. Apple's newest OS takes predictive technology up a notch by not only drawing from data related to a specific user to make predictions, but by also bringing in data from other iOS 10 users. For example, if a user is searching for something with Spotlight, the app no longer only uses the individual user's search history but also takes data from the global user base.

For many users, the idea of their search data being tracked might be a bit of a privacy concern; iOS 10 quells some fears with its differential privacy. Differential privacy uses data randomization to conceal an individual user's identity. So the OS sends a user's search data back to Apple, but the company has no way of identifying the particular user.

Prove your knowledge of security for mobile devices

Do you know what it takes to provide mobile security? Take this quiz that covers differences in mobile OSes, containerization, data encryption and more.

Other features iOS 10 brings to the table

Apple's iOS 10 doesn't stop with its predictive text. Enterprise users should find some other new features interesting as well. First of all, iOS 10 introduces CallKit, an application program interface that allows third-party apps to integrate with an iPhone's phone interface. As a result, users get a consistent experience whether they use a voice over IP app or the phone's built-in calling mechanism. They can also reject calls to unified communications apps from the home screen. Recent calls and missed calls appear in the same place as normal phone calls.

SiriKit is another new tool in iOS 10 for enterprise users. It allows users to set certain apps to remain voice activated even when the app is not open. As a result, users can still perform certain app-related actions through Siri without actually opening the app.

Next Steps

Complete guide to Apple's iOS

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This was last published in November 2016

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