The Android tablet. At one time, these glowing, rectangular, glass vessels of brightly-colored bits were relegated to the provision of ebooks and fun drawing apps for the kids. However, in the last few years, Android developers have revitalized their operating systems, effectively transforming Android tablets into powerful, comprehensive business tools. What was once a choppy, relatively unattractive repository for random games and apps is now a sleek, snappy necessity in a fleet manager’s arsenal – a necessity that has undergone an interesting evolution in recent years.

Android L – Serious Security Boost

Google got serious about transforming its tablet from e-reader to industry standard with Android L (now known as “Lollipop”), which was unveiled in June 2014. It was this iteration of Google’s mobile OS that addressed commercial concerns about security head-on. Lollipop was the first Android version that enabled device encryption by default. Google’s goal: IT-compliance right out of the box.1

Lollipop also added a feature that enforced security models on all apps and data, right from the core of the Android operating system. Without getting into the technical asepcts of SELinux, this feature freed IT departments from having to rely on third party security apps to keep their tablets secure. It also made it easier for businesses to audit and monitor work devices “from the inside out.”2

Android M – Intentional Enterprise Focus

Rolled out in late September 2015, Google’s subsequent operating system, Android M (or “Marshmallow”), continued with enterprise-focused improvements. Marshmallow introduced Android for Work, a multi-user framework designed to allow users to maintain separate personal and work profiles on the same device. This new operating system sported a unified interface so that business users did not need to switch profiles on their way to and from work.

Beyond business profile improvements, Android M paved the way for a new and improved suite of business apps, including apps for email, contacts, and calendar. Enterprise-focused apps were designed to support Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes and to allow for editing capabilities for documents, spreadsheets and presentations.2 This streamlining across disparate products gave Google a leg to stand on in the face of complaints about Android’s previously unfocused “ecosystem,” and it pleased many users who were looking for a more unified experience across a seeming patchwork of Android’s digital offerings.

Android N – Intuitive Multitasking Abilities

Android N, otherwise unnamed at the time of this posting, promises even greater business functionality and security. Google’s trust API “Project Abacus” intends to do away with traditional passwords altogether by the close of 2016, instead using biometric markers “to scan things like your face for secure access.”3 If successful, these improvements will set nervous managers more at ease about lost and stolen employee tablets.

As far as usability improvements, Android N looks to bring “newfound support for multiple windows, both to run multiple apps and to run multiple windows in the same app.”4 This improvement is a boon for business users in that multitasking with an Android tablet will become more intuitive, allowing users to manage multiple, diverse panes of data on a single screen.

Fleet Management with Android Devices

As Google has made improvements to its operating systems over the years, the tablets on which these operating systems reside have similarly been vetted for use in fleet management environments. Android devices have become the go-to tablets for e-log management and intelligence reporting. Mobility apps available on Android devices have paved the way for paperless POD and record management, back-office automation, and point-of-sale invoicing. These Android-based mobility apps allow for integration across users and across physical environments (in-cab and in-office) and lend themselves to a comprehensive fleet management framework, making the Android tablet a very practical and robust tool for fleets of any size.

  1. http://www.infoworld.com/article/2690908/android/android-l-google-means-business.html
  2. http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/7382-android-lollipop-security.html
  3. http://www.businessinsider.com/google-launches-android-for-work-2015-2
  4. http://www.knowyourmobile.com/mobile-phones/project-abacus/23605/googles-project-abacus-will-kill-need-passwords-android
  5. http://www.infoworld.com/article/3042899/android/more-like-windows-how-android-n-targets-the-enterprise.html

Photo courtesy of unsplash.com.

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