During Google I/O this week, Google announced that the next version of Android, "Android L," will include a security layer designed to increase acceptance of Android among governments and companies with strong security policies or concerns. With many businesses and governments adopting a "Bring Your Own Device" (BYOD) policy, rather than providing company phones to employees, separating personal and corporate data, and ensuring the security of corporate data, has become a bigger concern.
Enter Android For Work. Designed to make phones more secure in sensitive environments, it provides separation of personal and work information, and allows encryption to be enforced in the work partition only. If that sounds familiar, it's because that is what Samsung's Knox software does. And Android for Work is Samsung's Knox, built into Android.
Android For Work uses the same application programming interfaces (APIs) as Knox, so existing Knox aware applications should work without requiring any updates. Android for Work will be integrated into Android L, the upcoming release of the Android OS, when it is released. Google also has said they will offer an update later to incorporate it into the Jelly Bean and KitKat versions of the OS. It's not clear if this update will require carrier cooperation to bring it to carrier-branded phones, or if it will be available as a stand-alone update.
Five of Samsung's Knox-enabled handsets have been approved for Defense Department use by the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency.
Google continues to tighten down the security of Android, which is a good thing for most users, but may make Android less easily "hackable," and make things harder for ROM developers and users who want to root their phones.