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How To Use Your Android Phone For Business

May 14, 2011

While Android is indeed becoming more and more popular by the minute, it still isn’t the platform businesses rely on for their mobile needs. BlackBerry, because of their robust security services, remains the top dog in this arena. Google is slowly but surely changing that though, and it’s been busy baking in a lot of enterprise-friendly features in recent updates.

If you want Android to serve both your personal and business needs, it’s time you visit your IT manager (and do some gentle arm-twisting) to make them see the light. Here are a few tips to make your Android a better business phone.

1. Create a lock screen.

Conferences and meetings are unavoidable and often you see a string of phones lying on the table. If you want to keep your info safe, better put up your first line of defense by creating an unlock pattern or using a PIN. That way, you can safely leave your phone without having your clients, suppliers and even Bob, the guy gunning for your promotion, snooping around.

2. Get an antimalware app.

Android has experienced a lot of growth, and unfortunately some of that is in the malware side. In fact, Android malware is up 400% since 2010. This shouldn’t be any cause for alarm though since Google is always quick to send out updates to fix holes in the OS and you can also protect your own by using Android antimalware apps. Some of the most recommended ones are Lookout Mobile and DroidSecurity from AVG.

3. Use multifactor authentication.

Another layer of security you can wrap around your Android device is the use of tools like SecureAuth and PhoneFactor. This gives IT the confidence that only you are accessing your enterprise apps and that there are no other people that can hack in. Google Apps for Enterprise also has this, and though it’s just two-factor authentication, you still get something more secure than a simple username-password combo.

4. Install the Device Policy App.

With this app, an admin gains all the control freak access he needs to ensure that company data is secure even when you lose your phone. Device Policy includes security features like requiring passwords, remote device wiping, pinging lost devices for location and data encryption. You will need to have Google Apps Premier edition for this app to work.

5. Alternatively, use Mobile Device Management.

If you don’t like Google handling everything including your first born, you can use third-party solutions to handle your device management needs. Afaria, Good Technology and Zenprise are some names you can look into in this regard. They offer everything that the Device Policy has, as well as data partitioning and role-based access rights.

6. Only support the latest Android versions.

Google likes to update their phone OS versions, and they like it a lot. Since the roll outs of new desert-named upgrades of Android happens often, supporting a myriad of these isn’t feasible. You can set the cut-off to Froyo or even Gingerbread to make your mobile support easier.

7. Use secure email.

Google pushes Gmail to its Android users hard but you do have alternative mail apps you can use. Exchange is still the lifeblood of most organizations and TouchDown is one great app that can both handle email coursed through Exchange servers as well as being compatible with mobile device management systems like those mentioned above.

8. Load up on business apps.

A smartphone needs smart apps. Your phone probably comes with an office app of sorts but if you need one, there’s Docs To Go, QuickOffice and Google’s own Docs app to keep you busy. There are also other helpful apps out there like Google Googles, which can scan business cards and  translate text;, a file syncing solution and Cab4Me, which gets you cabs wherever you may be.

9. Share your phone’s internet.

Depending on what you carrier allows, you can can share the mobile internet minutes of your phone with your laptop or tablet. Android has built-in WiFi tethering capabilities that converts your 3G or HSDPA internet connection to a WiFi hotspot that you can connect to. Some phones, like those from HTC, even have other tethering capabilities built-in (like USB tethering). If in the off chance your phone doesn’t have these, you can install PDANet as a fix.