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Organizations that provide Google Android devices to employees will likely benefit from the Android Enterprise Recommended program, but IT should first be aware of the program's recently added features.
Google's Android Enterprise Recommended program helps IT select, deploy and manage Android devices for enterprise use. Google vets each device and enterprise mobility management (EMM) provider in the program to ensure that the devices are updated and secure. Google supports a variety of EMM providers, including VMware, MobileIron and Soti.
To deploy a fleet of corporate devices with Android Enterprise Recommended, IT can use zero-touch provisioning or scan a QR code. This allows organizations to eliminate manual device setup and deploy the EMM platform of their choice; end users receive a device with set policies and managed apps. Organizations that are new to EMM don't need to spend money on service calls when they run into EMM software installation issues.
Google deprecated Device Admin, its device management program, in 2018 due to limitations such as the API's inability to securely reset device passwords on encrypted devices and perform a factory reset.
Perhaps Google's strategy was also to compete with Apple's Device Enrollment Program (DEP), which was recently rolled into Apple Business Manager and helps IT to automate Apple device enrollment and configuration. Android Enterprise Recommended shares some features with Apple Business Manager, including zero-touch provisioning.
Android Enterprise Recommended program updates
The Android Enterprise Recommended program initially supported original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that provided devices for knowledge workers. It added support for rugged devices in September, including those from Datalogic, Zebra Technologies and Dolphin.
Many organizations realize the benefits of rugged mobile devices, especially as products such as Samsung DeX enable users to easily replace clunky ruggedized PCs with smartphones that have PC capabilities. Organizations that deploy rugged devices will need reliable devices as sales, inventory and communication become essential in the field.
The rugged device portion of Android Enterprise Recommended focuses on hardware attributes such as drop testing, as well as longer lifespans for security updates. Google also supports tablets, including the Huawei MediaPad M5 8.4 and the 10.8. Tablets are uniquely valuable in the field for data visualization and inventory management. Both rugged and knowledge-worker devices require users to run Android 7.0 or higher, however.
Samsung smartphones are notably missing from the list of supported devices, likely because Samsung has its own enterprise mobility security platform, Knox.
How to prepare for Android Enterprise Recommended
IT should take a few steps to set up EMM platform integration with devices in the Android Enterprise Recommended program.
- Validate that the EMM platform supports the device owner and zero-touch provisioning.
- Integrate the zero-touch customer APIs into the EMM portal.
- Present the zero-touch devices using devices.list().
- Create new EMM configurations using configurations.create(). Specify the configuration name, device policy controller and extras.
- Map configurations to devices using devices.appConfiguration(). Specify the device identifier and configuration.