Android has gained a reputation of being a very reliable and inexpensive mobile operating system both for users and developers, but so far has lacked credibility in the enterprise.
The first changes aimed at business sector appeared in Android 2.2 when Google added a new "Android Device Administration" API which allowed mobile developers to make "highly secure" applications for enterprise needs. This API introduced the number of features:
a) Data sharing which helped employees to get an access to the organization's data and system information. It enhanced the remote collaboration and communication with co-workers.
b) Enhanced security. Administrators of the device can apply various security policies (encoded into the app or installed on a third-party server) such as Remote lock, Password policy or Data Encryption.
In 2012 Google introduced 2 great Android OS updates - Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean. Moreover, the first enterprise app store for Android was opened. And other new improvements for enterprise users were added.
c) Multiuser support. One device can be shared by multiple users, while all the data can be sync or shared.
d) Verification. The service provides higher level of security with an always-on VPN.
e) Device encryption. The Android OS itself periodically reminds users to decrypt their devices.
f) Malware-prevention improvements (address space layout randomization, data execution prevention).
While there are still problems that Android must solve to become the number one choice for enterprise solutions, Android OS has one very strong feature - it is an object oriented architecture which is based on Java programming language.
What makes Android good?
1) Java is a mature programming language and much of its functionality is ported to the Android framework.
2) Java developers can easily find the necessary APIs for all particular needs. Java has a vast array of libraries, frameworks and tools allowing developers to re-use existing infrastructure for solving most common use-cases. And they all make an excellent base for developing an excellent Android application.
3) There are many really professional and talented Java developers (who can easily become Android developers by only studying the Android Framework) and their number overcomes the number of Objective-C (for iOS) developers.
4) Enterprise J2EE backend services is another advantage of Android. The J2EE standard is a result of a collaboration between leaders from throughout the enterprise software arena. Android takes advantage of the J2EE architecture by using native connectivity to backend Web services, allowing the developers team to focus mainly on the mobile app's UI.
Bring your own device (BYOD) allowing employees to take their personal mobile gadgets to the workplace and use them for working purposes has increased the demand for enterprise applications. This demand has increased from 29 percent in 2010 to 43 percent in 2013. And it will be growing as Android is the most popular mobile operating system in the world.
Google has more work to go and iOS is still the leader in the enterprise sphere (mainly thanks to its consistent work on various OS versions, better integration with Windows and certificate-based VPN authentication working with almost all Apple products), but Android is starting to win some of the enterprise battles and might be in the war a long time to come.
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