Through a combination of direct experience, and a review of an editorial published just about a year ago on the Android Central website, I have concluded there is no clear method of uniformly updating mobile devices powered by the same Android operating system, but manufactured by different Android partners. I am not sure as to why this problem arose, but I am clear about its impact on the likelihood of the average enterprise IT organization standardizing on Android as an approved mobile computing platform. It is not likely to happen.
The title of the editorial on the Android Central website is Solving the impossible problem of Android updates. The writer is Alex Dobie.
It is not possible for enterprise IT organizations to standardize on devices running an operating system which can be implemented on highly dissimilar hardware. What if the next update to an Android “flavor”, say Jelly Bean, includes not only new features, but substantially better security? Manufacturer A has implemented the first update (Android Jelly Bean 4.2), but can’t release the latest update (Android Jelly Bean 4.3). Worse yet, Manufacturer B has yet to implement even the first update. What enterprise IT organization would want to deal with a user community outfitted with a lot of devices from Manufacturer A, B and more?
Yet the average BYOD policy statement empowers users to bring Android, iOS, and Windows personal computing devices into the enterprise. So it should not be difficult for readers to understand why enterprise IT organizations are struggling to ensure high quality user computing experience, while, at the same time, defending the enterprise from hackers, malware, data leaks, etc.
The direct experience component of my conclusion arose as the result of my interest in participating in Microsoft’s Office Preview for Android. This preview includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. At first glance it looked as if my Samsung Galaxy Note 2.1 10.1 would work with the preview app. The display size of the tablet is 10.1 inches, and the Android version is 4.1, Jelly Bean. But the preview app would not work on my device, perhaps since the latest Android Jelly Bean release is 4.3.
When I posted my experience to the Google Plus community Microsoft has set up for people participating in the preview to exchange information, I was surprised to learn I am not alone. Samsung is not the only Android OEM stuck on an older version of this Android Operating System.
Regardless of just who is responsible for the problem, perhaps management at Google for Work can fix it. If not, it might be better for them to restrict their offers to Google’s cloud SaaS and IaaS products and forget about getting much traction with Android at all.
Ira Michael Blonder
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