The Android operating system faces many of the same problems that other mobile operating systems face when it comes to enterprise adoption. However, Google continues its efforts to make Android more business-ready, and it shows.
On Wednesday, October 15, Google announced the latest iteration of the Android OS known as Android 5.0 Lollipop. The update was released alongside the Motorola-manufactured Nexus 6, the newest version of Google's flagship smartphone, the Nexus 9 tablet built by HTC, and the Nexus Player, the first device natively running Android TV made in partnership with Asus.
Android Lollipop, previously known as Android "L," was initially previewed at Google's I/O developer conference in San Francisco earlier this year. The focus then was on Material Design and the new APIs that would be released, but the launch shows that Google had a little more to show.
Don't let the candy-coated exterior fool you, Android Lollipop offers some valuable updates for business users. Here are four quick features that professional Android users should know about.
Security is important for any enterprise mobile user, regardless of the OS they are using. This is increasingly true for Android users, as the OS seems to get more and more press surrounding its susceptibility to malware attacks when it comes to third party apps stores.
To better address malware concerns, Android Lollipop has the Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux) feature to lower the risk of vulnerabilities in all applications. With Android Lollipop, encryption is turned on automatically for new devices. This is the first time data will be encrypted by default on Android devices.
Android Smart Lock is the most unique security feature of Lollipop. This allows Android phones or tablets to be secured by bluetooth, pairing them with an Android Wear device or your automobile, assuming it's running Android Auto. The feature is eerily similar to the Easy Unlock feature that showed up in the Chrome Dev channel earlier this year, which lets users unlock a Chromebook with a paired device.
What came directly from the Knox integration earlier this year, more than likely, is the ability to have multiple users on a single Android device. The ability to "pin" a screen means that multiple users can get to the same content without altering the other's layout or apps. Business users should be able to run two separate users on their device, such as one for business and one for personal use.
One of the most useful scenarios I can see for this feature is the ability to sign in to any other Android phone running Lollipop to access your contacts, calls, and messages. This could prove extremely useful for employees in the field, or SMBs with limited resources that need dedicated business lines.
Android users will now have even more control over their notifications, very similar to some of the newer features in iOS. Increased lock screen capabilities mean that users can view notifications and respond to them, if necessary, directly from the home screen.
Using the volume button, users can toggle the Priority Mode to lessen distraction, allowing only notifications from specific contacts or applications to get through. Android users will now also be able to see all their notifications by tapping the top of the screen.
Google's new approach to design through its Material Design increases the continuity of design across devices making the transition from watch, to phone, to tablet that much easier. Especially helpful with email, Android Lollipop shows the user's full inbox next to an open message when using a tablet.
Much like Apple's Continuity, introduced in iOS 8 and Yosemite, Android Lollipop lets users pick up with an app, song, or search on one device where they left off on another.
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.