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Google details security features in Android 7.0 'Nougat'

Al Sacco | Aug. 17, 2016
Google shared information on the best new security features in its next major mobile OS update, Android 7.0 'Nougat,' including a faster direct boot, streamlined software updates and enhanced integration with corporate directories.

Google also says it removed the annoying "app optimization" step of the Android upgrade process, so Nougat devices won't be useless for 10 minutes or more after a new OS patch is applied, while apps optimize for the changes.

Android Nougat 7.0 corporate-security enhancements

Google didn't provide as many specifics about the IT security features in Nougat, but it did offer a glimpse of some of the most interesting improvements.

1. Nougat's 'always-on VPN'

An enhanced "always-on VPN" feature lets IT force certain business apps to use a VPN to connect to the web. If a VPN isn't available or can't connect, the apps won't work or share any data. 

2. Android 'work security challenge'

A "work security challenge" feature lets IT set separate, complex passcodes on users' devices to protect specific work data, using Android profiles, and users can employ simpler PINs or codes to access their personal data. IT can set lock restrictions for specific apps, and admins can choose to use different looking login screens so users visually know when they log into corporate services.

3. 'Work mode' in Nougat

A new "work mode" icon in the Android Nougat dropdown menu, which looks like a briefcase, lets user disable all work related apps after hours or when they don't want to be distracted.

android 7 nougat work mode

4. Nougat phone and dialer tweaks

The Android 7.0 Nougat dialer component further integrates with corporate systems and directories, according to Google, and users can search both work and personal contact lists from one place. If a business user receives a call from someone in their work directory, their caller ID can be set by admins to notify them that the call is likely work related. Call logs can be separated into business and personal lists. And other UX modifications aim to make it clear when calls or contacts are personal or work related.

android 7 nougat work dialer 

Google also said many of the work-versus-personal changes are meant to serve as a "foundation for a second phone line for business" in addition to a personal line on a single device. In fact, APIs already exist that enable certain VoIP apps to create separate phones lines within a single dialer in Android Nougat, according to Google.

5. QR code provisioning in Nougat

A new Nougat feature lets IT admins provision devices that don't support the NFC "Android bump" feature, using a QR code.

6. New remote bug reports and process logging

Enhancements to Android's remote diagnostic tools in Nougat give admins more options to request remote bug reports, though in many cases, users must approve the requests for access to potentially sensitive information.

Google said it will provide additional details on Android 7.0 Nougat and Android for work when the new mobile OS is released in the coming weeks.


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