Called ‘Android at Work,’ it will allow enterprises to separate corporate and personal data

This year’s edition of the Google I/O developers conference opened Wednesday with a focus on the next version of Android and how it will work its way into cars,  TVs and wearable devices.

But there was also enterprise news.  Google said the next version of the mobile OS, for the moment dubbed Android L, will have an Android for Work component that will allow corporate and separate apps to be held on a single device.

Google has released the video below with some details. It could be welcome news for CIOs and security managers who have been cautious about allowing Android devices to be authenticated to corporate networks. It could mean that even if a malicious Android app is downloaded it won’t compromise corporate applications and data.

A number of mobile device management providers — including BlackBerry — offer various solutions for enterprises. Samsung Electronics has a security capability called Knox in a few of its devices for better security as well. It remains to be seen if Android for Work will improve the OS’s reputation in the enterprise, but Google has to do something to meet the challenge of BlackBerry and Apple’s iOS for the all-important business user.

The Android L developer preview is here.

For enterprises using Google Docs, the suite will now let staff open and edit Microsoft Office documents without converting. A new feature called Slides will allow users to create slide shows. To meet worries about government electronic syping, data on Google Drive is encrypted data in transit.

The upcoming Android L, to be released in the fall, has a long list of enhancements developers can take advantage of. Here are a few as outlined by Google:

  • Enhanced notifications — New lockscreen notifications let you surface content, updates, and actions to users at a glance, without unlocking. Visibility controls let you manage the types of information shown on the lockscreen. Heads-up notifications display content and actions in a small floating window that’s managed by the system, no matter which app is in the foreground. Notifications are material themed and you can express your brand through accent colors and more.
  • Document-centric Recents — Now you can organize your app by tasks and present these concurrently as individual “documents” in the Recents screen. Users can flip through Recents to find the specific task they want and then jump deep into your app with a single tap.
  • Project Volta — New tools and APIs help your app run efficiently and conserve power. Battery Historian is a new tool that lets you visualize power events over time and understand how your app is using battery. A job scheduler APIlets you set the conditions under which your background tasks and other jobs should run, such as when the device is idle or connected to an unmetered to a charger, to minimize battery impact.
  • BLE Peripheral Mode — Android devices can now function in Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) peripheral mode. Apps can use this capability to broadcast their presence to nearby devices — for example, you can now build apps that let a device to function as a pedometer or health monitor and transmit data to another BLE device.
  • Multi-networking — Apps can work with the system to dynamically scan for available networks with specific capabilities and then automatically connect. This is useful when you want to manage handoffs or connect to a specialized network, such as a carrier-billing network.
  • Advanced camera capabilities — A new camera API gives you new capabilities for image capture and processing. On supported devices, your app can capture uncompressed YUV capture at full 8 megapixel resolution at 30 FPS. The API also lets you capture raw sensor data and control parameters such as exposure time, ISO sensitivity, and frame duration, on a per-frame basis.
  • Android Runtime (ART) — The L Developer Preview introduces the Android Runtime (ART) as the system default. ART offers ahead-of-time (AOT) compilation, more efficient garbage collection, and improved development and debugging features. In many cases it improves performance of the device with no action required by the developer.
  • 64-bit support — The L Developer Preview adds support for 64-bit ABIs, for additional address space and improved performance with certain compute workloads. Apps written in the Java language can run immediately on 64-bit architectures with no modifications required. To support apps using native code, we’re also releasing an updated NDK that includes 64-bit support.
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