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What Android Marshmallow means for the enterprise

Business implications

Whilst this latest update sees Android bolster a lot of the Apple improvements delivered by iOS9, the enhancements to the Android for Work platform offer a huge amount for companies looking to grow out their digital business.

Corporate-owned, single-use (COSU) devices such as kiosks and digital signage will now be even easier for businesses to control with keyboard, status bar and safe boot disablement options. Given Android’s availability and price competitiveness, we’re not surprised to see a breadth of device manufacturers already creating custom-built point of sale devices that present a far more economic proposition for businesses.

Similar cost efficiencies will be drawn from the new data usage tracking. Companies can finally regain control of the amount of carrier provided data being used by apps on corporate devices. In the event someone is drumming up an inflated bill by streaming video content and using the phone’s internet connection abroad, IT can identify the source and limit the connectivity not only to the device but to individual, data hungry apps.

This granular approach also means employee owned devices with corporate containers can be aligned with acceptable use policies by enabling admins to track work app usage without interfering with the rest of the device.”

Security implications

Fingerprint scanning will obviously prove the most visible update security-wise. Beneath the surface though, this marks a clear step towards standardising and vastly improving Android’s main access security. Previous iterations of the OS left organisations to build their own fingerprint databases which created significant risk, as shown by the recent White House blunder in which 5.6 million fingerprint records were stolen. With the data now managed by Google, compatible devices should be far more secure than traditional, password protected ones.

Given recent app store hacks such as the recent ‘Brain Test’ malware, it’s good to see Android addresses the need for a silent install functionality. By enabling devices to install and, perhaps more importantly, uninstall apps on corporately owned devices, IT departments can immediately react to any number of vulnerabilities found in apps or development kits from a centralised console.

Certainly one other defining aspect of Android Marshmallow’s security offering is app permission controls. With data protection a key concern for businesses and users alike, the introduction of controls over exactly what parts of the device apps can access is a real game changer.

Much like with installations, app permissions can be silently provisioned through the IT department’s central console, relieving a lot of the data responsibility from employees.”

Imran Ansari, Senior Product Manager at SOTI (opens in new tab)