BACKGROUND IMAGE: iSTOCK/GETTY IMAGES
Android 5.0 Lollipop represents a major change to the look and feel of Google’s mobile operating system, and IT pros have questions about what the new features mean for them.
Android 5.0 Lollipop, formerly known as Android L, has had Android aficionados excited since its debut at the Google I/O conference in June 2014. It is scheduled to debut as the stock operating system for three new Google devices: the Nexus 6 phablet, Nexus 9 tablet and Nexus Player, which runs Google’s new version of Android TV.
The latest iteration of the Android operating system brings with it several new features -- not just for consumers, but for the IT crowd as well.
How do new Android Lollipop features improve security?
Android 5.0 Lollipop brings enhanced security attributes, like automatically enabled encryption on devices to protect personal and corporate information. Also new in Lollipop, Security Enhanced Linux (SELinux) Enforcing Mode is required for all applications. This feature controls application permissions at the most basic level of the operating system, making it harder for malware to be effective.
Another new feature, Android Smart Lock, uses Near-Field Communication (NFC) and Bluetooth pairing to unlock devices. It encourages users to lock their devices’ screens so they don’t leave their devices vulnerable. With Google enabling location and proximity-based unlocking, users may be more inclined to enable the lock screens on their devices.
Multiple user and guest modes are two additional Android Lollipop features of interest. Much like on desktop and laptop computers, these modes will limit the abilities of secondary device users to modify settings or access apps they shouldn't. And new screen pinning capabilities prevent other users from seeing things they shouldn’t, like sensitive company information.
What Android Lollipop features are specifically for enterprise environments?
Google is using Lollipop as an opportunity to provide IT pros with the management features they’ve been asking for through Android for Work, a new initiative to make secure containers easier to enable. Samsung has lent its work on its own secure container, Knox, to Google to incorporate into Android. This containerization technology will allow IT shops to isolate users' personal information and applications from company assets.
Does Lollipop do anything to address the Android fragmentation problem?
Google had hoped to curb some of the problems with Android fragmentation by convincing device manufacturers to lighten up on customizing the operating system and focus on custom apps instead. Unfortunately for Google, manufacturers continue to customize the OS on their new devices. And important new features like Android for Work are limited to Lollipop, not devices with older OS versions. Anyone waiting for a remedy to Android fragmentation is going to be waiting a while longer.