Google and Android - 29 October 2010
Author: Doug Simmons

underwhelmedkitty I hope I have this article wrong because it’s not going to help my Android proselytism here: Since February administrators of Google Apps Premier and the Education Edition have been able to remotely manage Blackberries, iPhones, Nokias and WinMo devices to do things along the lines of the following:

  • Remotely wipe all data from lost or stolen mobile devices (most noteworthy) Lock idle devices after a period of inactivity Require a device password on each phone
  • Set minimum lengths for more secure passwords
  • Require passwords to include letters and numbers
  • Fire someone, lock them out of their device while preserving all the data it for posterity

I’m not bragging about that, those are pretty run of the mill things and won’t blow your mind if you know anything about a BES. But this is quite a curveball to me because for whatever reason, and don’t ask me why, and please tell me I’m mistaken, Google did not include Android phones among those with such support for remote management, until now – but only for Froyo (and soon presumably Gingerbread) users, and as of October 1st just 33% of Android users were using Froyo, after having installed the Google Apps Device Policy onto each employee’s device from the Android Market. And I doubt admins will be able to push out such software to all their Android employees rather than going around and installing it individually, and how hard is it for the employee to uninstall that software and if the admin is tipped off if the employee uninstalls it.

Google’s presenting this like it’s big news, cross-posting it, when all it does for me, pretty much, is put a WTF-like clump of thoughts into my head as I love both the joy I see on people’s faces (and the checks in the mail) for getting them onto Google Apps and I sure as hell love Android, though this slipped under my radar. Reminiscent of what went through my head when they announced you can now view your Google Docs documents on Android. All right, better late than never, this is progress in removing consumer decision making dealbreakers from both Android phones and from Google Apps.

No word on the Standard Edition crowd – don’t hold your breath.

Update: I asked in the Google thread on this some of these questions, got this response from someone who, judging by his use of personal pronouns, may work for Google:

@Doug – Device Policy app is available to Froyo users only since we depend on the APIs that were introduced in Froyo. We also have solutions for Blackberry using our Google Apps Connector for BES (https://tools.google.com/dlpage/appsconnector) and for iPhone/iPad, Windows Phone, Nokia E-series using Google Sync (http://www.google.com/mobile/sync/)

Followed up with some better questions to try to evoke more yes or no kind of responses, will let you know if I get anything worth relaying.

Another update:

@Doug – Answers inline
  Also, will admins be able to push out this Google Apps Device Policy en masse or go one by one?
[MK] Admins will need to ask users to install the application. We currently do not have to means to push them en masse
  Will employees be able to uninstall it as they would any other application?
[MK] Yes they can but then their corporate data will stop syncing.
  If so, if they do uninstall it, will the admin be tipped off about it without having to dig for that information?
[MK] This is something on our radar for future version
  Any plans for more BES-like draconian interception and monitoring of all sorts of data or is that not Google’s style?
[MK] Not currently

On a related note I’d like to point out that with every support issue I’ve had, and there haven’t been that many, with Google Apps, Google’s staff, each time, jumped on the problem fast, courteously and effectively.

Doug Simmons









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Biographical info.. hmm. I have a history of not being able to strike the balance between what is "safe" to put into these forms and what is, in my mind at least, funny. Can't do it.

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