With a batch of new Android management features Android is edging dangerously close to relevance in the education market.
Google’s mobile offering is endlessly frustrating. The company has a solid back end in Google Apps, a developing office suite, a flexible open mobile OS with maturing management options, and huge popularity in the consumer market. In fact, I would put my money on Google being the strongest player in the school tablet market in five years time, but at the moment Google’s implementation and developer support is lacklustre.
This week Google has announced a number of new features that make using Android devices in schools that little bit more managable:
1. Inactive account wipe
Google now lets Google Apps administrators wipe accounts from Android devices is the device has not been synced for a specified number of days. Administrators can now be confident that data will be wiped from any lost or stolen BYOD devices.
2. Compromised Device Detection
This option allows Google Apps administrators to detect potentially rooted or otherwise compromised devices and block that device automatically. Google doesn’t state the specific signals used to detect compromised devices, presumably for security reasons, but it’s a nice to have the option available.
3. Support for WiFi networks using the Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP)
Network Administrators can now configure and distribute CA-based certificates for EAP networks.
4. Improved device reporting
Finally Google has improved device reporting in the Google Apps Control Panel. Admins can now view device details which include Serial number, IMEI, MEID, WiFi MAC address, baseband version, kernel version, build number, mobile operator/carrier, language settings, and account ownership/management.
It’s great to see Google continuing to push the Google Apps device management features. With Google Apps, Google Play for Education, and Chrome the company is making all the right noises but whether they can convince enough people that Android is the prefered platform for schools remains to be seen.