"Android" and "enterprise" are two words that traditionally haven't gone together. But with Google beefing up its Android for Work initiative -- and getting ready to launch more enterprise-friendly features with the upcoming Android "N" release -- the notion of companies considering Android for employees no longer seems far-fetched.
The truth is Android has been moving in a more business-ready direction for a while. While tales of malware may still spook some system administrators, the realistic threats related to those scares are almost always nonexistent -- and Google has increasingly wised up about providing multiple layers and paths of protection.
Operating system aside, of course, there's also the ecosystem to examine -- the question of whether developers have created enough quality tools to make an Android device useful as a well-rounded mobile productivity gadget. The answer will obviously vary from one company to the next, depending on specific needs, but you can get a general idea of the platform's corporate viability by looking through some of its enterprise-targeted app selections.
Let's dive into it, shall we? Consider the readily available apps from these core categories and whether they'd make a sufficient starter pack for your company's mobile tech requirements:
Email and calendar
This one's easy, right? If your business uses Exchange, Microsoft's own Outlook Android client is the most consistent way to stay connected. It provides a familiar interface for on-the-go access to email, calendar, and even files from OneDrive or other cloud storage providers. It integrates with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. And it'll work on virtually any Android device (so long as it's running 2011's Android 4.0 release or higher -- which any reasonably current device is).
Google's own Gmail and Calendar apps are the standard on Android, meanwhile -- and if you use Google's cloud services or even external POP or IMAP connections, they're where you'll want to start. Google at long last implemented universal Exchange compatibility into Gmail in late April, so its apps are also now viable Outlook alternatives for Exchange-reliant enterprises.
The office suite
You can't have a work-ready mobile device without a decent office suite, and these days, Android has solid options to choose from. Microsoft itself may be embarrassingly late to the party, but its fully featured Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps for Android finally arrived for all devices last summer and are quite good, especially for businesses invested in Microsoft's platform.
Scoring even higher on InfoWorld's latest office suite shootout is the third-party OfficeSuite app, by MobiSystems. Due to its excellent UI and extensive feature set, it's a top choice for anyone who isn't already part of a paid Office 365 subscription. (The only downside is the app's labyrinthian pricing model, which is absurdly convoluted and practically guaranteed to give you a migraine.)
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