Samsung's 90 new Android APIs boost mobile device management, security

Samsung unveiled some 90 new APIs added to its Android implementation, including the tablet version of the mobile OS, version 3.0. The new APIs give third-party applications access to features not found on many other Android devices, including enterprise security and management.

Samsung has unveiled some 90 new APIs to its implementation of Android, including Version 3.0, the tablet version of Google's mobile operating system. The additions, available on its smartphones and tablets, include a range of security and management features that are being used by third-party applications such as SAP's Sybase Afaria mobile management software.

Besides Sybase, other vendors supporting the new APIs on Samsung's new Galaxy S II smartphone, running Android 2.3, and the new Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet, with Android 3.0, are Sybase parent SAP, Calgary Scientific, Cisco Systems, Citrix, and Samsung SDS, the company's IT arm. The applications include security, virtualization, unified communications, health care, and messaging. The new Samsung code will be available as a ROM upgrade for a range of existing products.

The announcement was made this week at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona.

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Sybase Afaria Advanced Enterprise Security (AES) is a mobile device management and security application targeted at the enterprise. AES for Samsung will be available in the first half of 2011 and more information is available from Sybase online.

"We've been working with Samsung for 9 months," says James Naftel, Afaria product manager at Sybase. "Over and beyond what Android 3.0 provides, Samsung has added about 90 APIs that you won't find on any other Android device, including [APIs] for the camera, microphone, Bluetooth, strong password controls, and on-device encryption."

One example of the impact is in password control. Under previous Android versions, IT could set a requirement for strong passwords, but users could disable this, Naftel says. The new Samsung APIs now let IT, through Afaria, control e-mail settings and security, password policies and other features.

"Android security today is in the end user's hands," Naftel says. "Users are prompted by, 'Do you want to allow x, y or z?' But most users aren't equipped for these [questions]. Now, with the Samsung APIs, we can lock down Android apps. In the future, we'll be able to do black/white listing of apps on devices. There's lots of ways to grow with what they've done/added."

The new APIs and the out-of-the-box support from key vendors will mean that a range of applications will work seamlessly with Samsung's new flagship smartphone, the just announced Galaxy S II. Among them: a comprehensive implementation of Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync to sync e-mail, calendar, contacts and tasks with corporate Exchange Server; on-device encryption; Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client, creating a persistent encrypted network link for mobile clients; Cisco WebEx Meeting Center, for online conferencing with a mobile device; Cisco Mobile for Android, for calling via a Wi-Fi connection; and Sybase Afaria AES for mobile device and mobile security management.

Users of the Galaxy Tab will also have new capabilities via third-party applications. Among them are:

- Cisco Safety and Security Solutions for cross-device information sharing for security and emergency response;

- SAP Business Objects Explorer, a search application for sifting corporate databases and automatically displaying the results graphically;

- SAP StreamWork, a hosted application for collaborative decision-making;

- SAP Mobile EMR, a medical application that gives fast, secure access to a chronological view of a patient's vital signs, to clinical documents, and to image comparisons;

- Citrix Receiver, a client that creates secure access to virtualized corporate desktops and applications, letting Android mobile users work with existing Windows, Web, and software-as-a-service applications.

Finally, Samsung SDS announced the launch of Samsung Mobile Business Intelligence Dashboard, co-developed with SAP, to leverage SAP Business Objects business intelligence software. The dashboard gives mobile users quick, out-of-the-box access to a range of reports on such information as revenues, customer accounts and inventory.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.



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