Android 4.3 features BYOD firms will be happy about

While it’s being called a relatively minor update to the mobile OS, the new Android 4.3 has some features that could be good news for companies with BYOD programs or those that issue smartphones to users. 

Android 4.3 was announced on July 24, and is so far available for Google’s Nexus line of smartphones and tablets, as well as the versions of the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 sold in the Google Play store. So far, releases from other manufacturers and carriers have yet to be announced.

While rumors about Android 5.0 started swirling several months ago, Google instead has continued tweaking the previous version of the OS with Android 4.3.

Early reports are that the update doesn’t contain anything really groundbreaking, there are some noteworthy changes, including a few that will likely interest IT departments.

Restricted profiles

The previous release of Android included the ability to set up multiple user profiles on a single device. Now, Android 4.3 allows different profiles to have finely tuned restrictions on what apps can be used, which websites can be visited and other ways the device can be used.

Google announced profiles will have their own dedicated storage and settings. That could make it easy for IT to set up “work” and “personal” profiles on employees’ phones used for business.

Improved security

As Android security remains a big concern for companies with BYOD programs, IT should be happy to learn that several new security features were added to Android 4.3, including:

  • An enhanced sandbox to help prevent vulnerable apps from affecting the entire device
  • A new keystore provider that allows apps to create private encryption keys that can’t be used by any other apps, and
  • Support for WPA2-Enterprise WiFi networks.

Waiting for upgrades

With Android 4.3, Google also made a number of other changes that are meant to improve devices performance and responsiveness.

However, most Android users and organizations will likely have to wait a while before they can take advantage of those improvements. In fact, 96% of devices have yet to get an update to Android 4.2.2, the previous version of the software that brought its own significant security enhancements.

But organizations that were on the fence about allowing users to bring in Android phones and tablets might consider making exceptions for devices with the most up-to-date software.