Android for Work overview

hallux

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Jul 7, 2013
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I decided to share my experience with AfW, based on my usage as a user in a corporate environment.

My setup is a Nexus 6P running Nougat (7.1.1 and currently on the January security update). The work setup is managed through MobileIron Go, the email is hosted in a Microsoft-hosted Exchange Online environment (well, I've been migrated, there are still some on-prem users).

When I registered my device (process for this will vary by how the company has decided to manage devices), there was then an automated download of all the suggested apps. In my case, I got additional Gmail, contacts, calendar, Chrome and Play Store apps as well as Jabber, Box, Webex, Docs@Work and a Tunnel app. The work-managed apps are identified by a briefcase on one corner of the app icon (see screenshot).
Screenshot (Jan 20, 2017 5:40:36 PM).jpg

These work-managed apps are "sandboxed", you can't merge your personal calendar to your work calendar so you can see them together. However, you can use the split-screen feature of Nougat to show both calendar apps.

If I get a call from someone that appears in my work contacts, that person's name shows in the dialer with a briefcase to indicate it's a work contact. In my case, it seems the contacts list populates both from my contacts on the mail server and from the list Outlook builds when I send an email to a new contact.

The work profile can be turned on and off (see screenshot), so if you want to stop mail but not de-register your device you can do that.
Screenshot (Jan 20, 2017 5:39:43 PM).jpg

You may be wondering how this works with Android Wear. I must say, it's just like having any other Google account. You can expand mail notifications and read as much of an email as you could with any other incoming Gmail. Android Wear even includes the red briefcase on the app icon when you get a notification. Samsung Tizen-based watches do NOT get notifications from managed apps, this is apparently by design - Google hasn't approved the app that syncs things to those device to read the secured environment for AfW.

In fact - notifications on the phone itself work just as they do with the non-managed Gmail app, you can expand the notification to preview message subjects, including expanding each message to preview a few lines of the message and then decide if you want to delete or respond to the message.

All of the mail folders available to me in Outlook (those on the server anyway) are available in the Gmail app, either at the top of my message list (subfolders of my Inbox) or from the slide-in menu on the left.

The tunnel app seen in the first screenshot allows me to make a "VPN" connection to the company and allows me to browse using Chrome as though I'm sitting at the facility.

The only apps the company "monitors" are the ones the company has installed as managed, those in the work profile.

Here's Google's page on AfW: https://www.android.com/work/

Now - I have an interesting change coming up. I actually work as a sub-contractor to the company that has deployed AfW, my actual employer is moving to Google Apps for mail/collaboration, so it'll be interesting to see how my mail gets set up on my phone and if it will end up interfering with the AfW setup. I do have a Google Apps account connected already - my family has mail hosted through Google with our own domain name.

If there are other questions, ask away. However, I'm not on the admin/design side of the setup, I'm just a user.
 

B. Diddy

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Outstanding -- thanks for this excellent summary! I'm going to sticky it, since it's so informative.
 

hallux

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UPDATE: My company has made the change to GApps and there has been no negative impact (in the first 2 days) on the AfW setup. I just added my new GApps account as an additional Google account and I'm getting my mail, there is not an additional management profile in use in my case.

One thing I'm not enthused with - my company account wants access to Google Opinion Rewards, I don't want that attached to that account but there's no way to turn that app off for that account.
 

swargon

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Hi,

Thanks a lot for sharing this.

Have you heard of any workarounds regarding Tizen / Samsung watched? Not being able to receive notifications for work email /calendar is a real pain, and almost makes the notifications feature useless for me.

Thanks,

Stephane.
 

hallux

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@swargon No. The info I've heard about that is that it's a limitation imposed by Google in the interest of security and that Samsung needs to work with Google to sort out/vet security before it will be allowed to work the same as AW.

I think the concern is that there is a 3rd-party app that needs to read the data from the secured apps to then send the notifications to the wearable. With AW, the app that does that is a Google-developed app.

To be honest, this is what Samsung gets for wanting to march to the beat of its own drummer when it comes to wearables. Now their customers/fans will be up in arms over notifications in cases like these.
 

RedHagar66

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We have also rolled this out at work - about 7,000 devices deployed so far. It's working well but doesn't have the full functionality that Divide Productivity previously provided that Google killed in the Spring. You can't access Exchange notes for one - a lot of people were using that functionality. We're also getting many questions on how to use Samsung's Bixby or Google Assistant to access their AFW e-mail and calendar clients. I can't figure out any way to do that...has anyone else?
 

hallux

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@RedHagar66 I apologize, I just today saw your reply. The word I'm seeing regarding Google Assistant with the work profile is that Google has not yet approved that functionality (much like the lack of a widget for the work calendar). Bixby is a whole other story as it's yet another party (Samsung) that has to be involved in the development and security of the feature to be included in the work profile.
 

RabblyRar

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Hi,

I've just recently bought an Android Wear watch, and my company uses AfW. Unfortunately I can't seem to get my calendar to sync over to the watch. It will only show my personal calendar, which is very frustrating.

Are there any tricks/suggestions you have to get this working?

Thanks!
 

hallux

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Are you trying to view the entire calendar or just get notifications on the watch? I believe I can get notifications. One problem with having a calendar app on the watch is that it should come from the secured Play Store in order to sync your work calendar, that secured Play Store is not on your watch.
 

hallux

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Yeah, that will be a challenge simply because of the way AfW works. Without a "badged" Play Store on the watch, you can't install a badged calendar app to allow access to the work profile calendar connection.
 

hallux

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So, you're using an old sync process to push your calendar from work to your personal account? I'm sure your IT folks would be THRILLED to know that you're bypassing the IP protections in place.
 

figgles

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Hi Hallux - Question regarding internet usage whilst in work profile. Would an employer be able to see my internet usage whilst in work profile, but not connected to a work network, not using a "work" app, and not on a work managed phone?

Thanks!