But uptake has slowed.
Android users can now lock down their missing phones
Google has added important new security features to its Android Device Manager that should make enterprises far less nervous about the search giant's mobile OS.
Android users whose phones have been lost or stolen now can remotely lock down their devices and change their passwords from their web-based Android Device Manager on a desktop or another mobile device.
When Android Device Manager was released in early August, it included location tracking and remote wiping functionality, but there was no way to lock down the device using the feature. Now there is.
The augmented Android Device Manager may give enterprise professionals a reason to support Android devices owned by employees. Since its debut five years ago, Google's mobile OS has been criticized for being light on security features.
Android manufacturer Samsung has tried to address enterprise security concerns with its KNOX and SAFE device management and security platforms, while third-party apps such as Lookout enable users to locate, lock, and wipe their Android devices (though you need the paid version of Lookout for remote lock and wipe).
But an Android owner may not download security apps such as Lookout, and that's the kind of thing that concerns IT pros who struggle to keep data and networks safe in the BYOD era.
Testing it out
I recently bought an HTC One smartphone and a Nexus 7 tablet and downloaded the free version of Lookout for each device. But without the remote lock and wipe, that's insufficient protection for a device that could have important enterprise data on it. Mine doesn't (I'm a freelancer), but I was willing to settle for "good enough" in lieu of paying for the premium version of Lookout. Now, with the enhanced Android Device Manager, I don't have to settle.
If you haven't tried Android Device Manager, it's easy. There are instructions here, but I'll walk you through what I did to test it.
First I put my smartphone and tablet in different parts of my property because I wanted to see how accurate the location map was (it's accurate). Then I called up Android Device Manager on my desktop browser. It immediately told me that I needed "an active Android device" before I could use Android Device Manager. That's understandable as far as it goes, but I actually have two Android devices!
Turns out the problem was that I hadn't been logged into my Google account. Once I took care of that (and you don't have to use Chrome; Firefox also works), I got a page with a map of where my devices were located with a circle indicating their precise location (within 35 meters). A dropdown menu allowed me to choose which of the two devices to locate.
A rectangular box in the upper left of the page told me the name of the device, when it was registered, when it was last located and when it was last used. At the bottom of the box were three icons -- Ring, Lock and Erase.
I tried the Ring icon and went searching for my HTC One. I found it a minute later, ringing away (until I touched the power button). Same thing with the Nexus 7.
Then I tried the new Lock function with both devices. After I clicked on the Lock icon, I was prompted to enter (twice) a new password. Then I retrieved by devices and tried the old passwords. They didn't work, but the new ones did. (Someone else can try the Erase icon. I'm in no hurry to lose any data on my Android devices.)
Even better, the lock function will secure your Android device instantly (if it's connected to a network or wifi), even if it's being used, which would be a great comedown for a smartphone thief.
One minor caveat: The lock function only works on Android devices running 2.2 and above.
Google's plan to bring Chrome packaged apps to Android and iOS is part of its strategy to make the web the primary platform for users. Converting Apple device owners will be a challenge.
Most companies understand that they need a social media presence, but many are flying by the seat of their pants instead of crafting a social media plan that aligns closely with business goals.