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With Android L, Google makes pitch for enterprise users

Matt Hamblen | June 26, 2014
With its use of Knox features and recent purchase of Divide, Google is 'catering directly to enterprise concerns for Android,' analyst says.

Use of Word docs in Google Docs

Gold also cheered Pichai's separate announcement that Android users will be able to do edits of native Word documents within GoogleDocs. Gold called that move "another big nod to business and a reaction to the continued delayed release of an Office capability for Android."

Google also said it will provide unlimited cloudstorage in Google Drive for Work, a big benefit to business users and a threat to cloud storage companies Box and DropBox, Gold said.

Analyst Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group said that incorporating Knox into all of Android is a "strong improvement," but noted that the rise globally in security risks, especially with newer 64-bit root kits used by malicious hackers, will soon make the security of Knox "just an oxymoron." He said Google "did take a big step in the right direction, just not big enough."

Carolina Milanesi, chief of research for Kantar Worldwide, praised Pichai in a tweet for thanking Samsung for its work on Knox but added, "surely this means more competition for Samsung in the enterprise now."

For Android to be fully capable for enterprises facing the BYOD threat, Milanesi said Google had to add a partition of personal and work data in the Android L release.

Samsung has taken steps to separate itself from Google in the past, making Google's announcement Wednesday to use Knox for all Android products somewhat of a surprise. Samsung started selling two Tizen OS-based smartwatches in April, the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, but then Google announced that an Android Wear smartwatch called Gear Live from Samsung would be on sale in the Google Play store later Wednesday.

Apparently both Google and Samsung continue to see the need to cooperate closely, analysts said.

Also during the keynote, Pichai and other Google officials provided a peek at other features in Android L, which many had thought would be dubbed Lollipop, but Google gave it no such name. The upcoming release will have 5,000 APIs in all, making it one of most comprehensive of any Android release.

One striking new feature of L will be the ability to launch all Android apps from web links. Also, users wearing an Android Wear smartwatch that's connected via Bluetooth to an Android smartphone or Chromebook won't need to enter a password when prompted. Given that users check a smartphone many times in a day, wearing a smartwatch to indicate the correct user is present to use the smartphone will make tasks easier on users.

Even with such improvements, analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy said "little jumped out at me as most of their mobility announcements were refinements of what they've talked about already. L is faster, more capable, gets better battery life, looks better, is more secure and works more naturally. But this is what they said about KitKat and are now saying about L."


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