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Five questions about taking Google's new phones to work

Blair Hanley Frank | Oct. 5, 2016
How will the Pixel and Pixel XL work with enterprise IT tools?

Does Google have any plans to sell Pixel phones to enterprises?

While Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 was first pitched to consumers, the company quickly got into the business of working with partners to sell it as a business device. The Surface Enterprise Initiative has more than 10,000 partners selling Microsoft tablets to companies, and Microsoft continues to pour resources into it. The Pixel seems well-suited to receive similar treatment, especially as Google continues to build out its enterprise-focused business.

The company is working to push its G Suite productivity tools for enterprises, and it would seem like selling Pixel phones alongside those would make a ton of sense. But Google hasn't said anything about its enterprise plans for the phone.

How do the Pixel's new automatic updates work with managed phones?

One of the key features of the Pixel for consumers is an enhancement to the phone's automatic update system. It downloads system updates in the background and then installs them the next time users restart their phones. It's designed as more seamless way of keeping the device up to date compared with other Android smartphones and should help with security.

What's not yet clear is how much control IT managers will have over the automatic updates. Google already allows companies using mobile device management software to control when updates get installed and whether users are notified of updates when they're available. It seems likely Google would offer the same for the Pixel, but Google hasn't said how device management features would work with the new update functionality.

Will 24/7 chat support for these devices increase or decrease enterprise appeal?

The other marquee feature for consumers is 24/7 chat support, which gives them an easy path to help. This seems like it would come in handy for helping employees when the IT helpdesk isn't available, but it also presents a security problem.

Google's support representatives can use screen-sharing built into the Pixel to see what's going on with users' devices. For those people who have sensitive company data on their Pixels, that could be an issue. Google hasn't said whether administrators will be able to disable live chat, turn off the screen-sharing feature, block screen sharing of enterprise apps, or some combination of management features.

Still, the company has some time to answer all these questions. The phone was first made available for pre-order on Tuesday, but won't be available at retail until Oct. 20.


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