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Change log

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What's new in Android 14 for enterprise

Not too long ago Google announced the first beta of Android 14.

As these things tend to go, the likelihood now of major additions is slim, and so beta 1 marks a good opportunity to review what we're likely to see when Android 14 officially launches later this year.

Given the amount of lower-level developer content, I'm not going to cover everything in the API docs targeted to Android 14, so this will be limited to only the notable items. That said, let's go!

Specific app sharing for screen-share sessions

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Want to keep your personal device a little more private when sharing your screen on a call? Android 14 now introduces the ability to share a specific app within the work profile, ensuring meeting attendees don't catch a glimpse of any personal applications or customisations (no judgement on your particular choice of wallpaper from me, either way!)

Default 6 digit PIN

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Android 14 ups the default PIN from 4 to 6 digits, with their justification being one very commonly quoted by us in the industry:

Adding just two digits to unlock the device increases the number of possible PIN combinations from 10,000 to 1 million — reducing the risk of break-ins.

It's still possible to set weaker passwords, but is it really worth it?

Persistent screen-on during provisioning

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If your Android experience is primarily centred around Samsung then this may not seem new, but for those of us who've spent time with most other OEMs in the ecosystem the screen turning off during provisioning is at minimum an inconvenience, at most the reason why provisioning or enrolment may fail.

Often, and I see this more with AMAPI (Intune, Mambo, Wizy, etc) than Play EMM API (custom DPC - MobileIron Ivanti, SOTI, VMware, etc), allowing the screen to time out and coming back to it a little later results in a failure to set up and a request to reset. In my use cases this isn't the end of the world. For large staging projects this would be beyond frustrating.

Well in any case, for non-Samsung (and other OEMs that don't already support it) devices, once Android 14 lands this will be a thing of the past.

Google had actually introduced in Android 13 a DPC extra to keep the screen on that customers could leverage: EXTRA_PROVISIONING_KEEP_SCREEN_ON. Clearly this was given some additional thought and bundled in instead, which is good, since most customers wouldn't have known about this feature otherwise.

Prevention of installation of older applications

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Android 14 introduces a new restriction on app installation that cannot be overridden through management APIs.

If corporate applications target SDK 23 or earlier (Android Marshmallow), installation will automatically be blocked with an error that resembles the following:

INSTALL_FAILED_DEPRECATED_SDK_VERSION: App package must target at least SDK version 23, but found 7

This only affects new installations of applications. Those already on the device when it updates to Android 14 will not be affected.

See this Google doc for more information.

A revamp to cross-profile behaviour & implementation

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//-

Release update

Google has provided more information on the use of these cross-profile APIs, namely in the form of the applications able to access work contacts. In Android 14 all personal apps can see work profile contacts, and admins can now specify, via AMAPI, whether this is permitted, blocked, or blocked except system (13 and lower behaviour). An exemption list is available for the permitted/blocked options which blocks or permits applications defined respectively.

NB: AMAPI will default to permitting all applications, so if this is not something you wish to permit, update your AMAPI policies now!

-//

I normally wouldn't reference deprecations and replacement APIs in these updates because typically they're a little dry, but the apparent revamp on cross-profile functionality is interesting.

CrossProfileContactsSearchDisabled and CrossProfileCallerIdDisabled are being deprecated in favour of what appears to be a more specific ManagedProfileCallerIdAccessPolicy() and ManagedProfileContactsAccessPolicy(). Reading into the soon-deprecated APIs specifically, Google states:

Starting with Build.VERSION_CODES.UPSIDE_DOWN_CAKE, calling this function is similar to calling setManagedProfileCallerIdAccessPolicy(android.app.admin.PackagePolicy) with a PackagePolicy#PACKAGE_POLICY_BLOCKLIST policy type when disabled is false or a PackagePolicy#PACKAGE_POLICY_ALLOWLIST policy type when disabled is true.

The original APIs were a simple allow/disallow, while the new APIs lean on ALLOWLIST/BLOCKLIST (and another new ALLOWLIST_AND_SYSTEM, which as you might guess includes system apps by default as well as those explicitly defined by the DPC) to either generate explicitly permitted, or explicitly blocked applications being called on the device for the cross-profile functionality of caller ID and contact search.

DevicePolicyManager#setCrossProfileCalendarPackages and DevicePolicyManager#getCrossProfileCalendarPackages are deprecated. But this is because these types of API are going away all together.

In their place, applications will need to lean on the new Connected apps implementation, which expands scope beyond just calendar as the old API defines. Connected apps is early access at the moment, and looks like it has some - very justifiable - tight controls on what's approved vs not, since there's scope with these APIs to syphon data en masse from out of the work profile. The backup example they provide (which wouldn't be approved) highlights the very high-risk associated:

An app providing backup services that will sync work data to a personal profile account, or vice versa, would not be approved as it would send and log data from one profile to the other profile.

At the time of writing, the AMAPI API docs don't show anything relating to these changes, so it'll be interesting to see if we benefit from zero-day support later this year.

SIM management for COPE devices

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This has been on my list of feature requests for years! The ability to manage SIM functionality, and direct it into the work profile has been an ecosystem-wide gripe with COPE (and lesser but still valid, BYO) for as long as I can remember.

But! It's not what I'd consider fully formed just yet.

In Android 14, organisations will be able to assign the SIM(s) on a corporate owned device to the work profile (so COPE only) as an all-or-nothing policy. This absolutely covers use cases where organisations provide a device and SIM for work while allowing personal use, but clearly doesn't cover the desired behaviour to associate 1 of multiple SIMs to the work profile, while the other is left to the parent profile; the ideal eventuality for BYO and COPE users.

A new related API is setDefaultDialerApplication, which permits the DPC to set an explicit dialer in relation to this SIM management API (ManagedSubscriptionsPolicy), which is handy. This also compliments the default SMS API introduced way back in Android 10.

Behaviour-wise, it meets expectations, per Google:

When a subscription is associated with the managed profile, incoming/outgoing calls and text message using that subscription would only work via apps on managed profile. Also, Call logs and messages would be accessible only from the managed profile.

So again, brilliant start. Hopefully by Android 15 this'll mature into a full-featured SIM management offering for COPE and BYO equally, and I can officially tick it off my AE feature requests list.

Correct saving of screenshots for work profile applications

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In Android 14, the long-standing loophole for DLP controls, the humble screenshot, has been resolved. When a user takes a screenshot of a work app it will now be saved within the work profile, rather than in the parent profile.

If you're anything like me that'll be bittersweet; great for security in plugging a very obvious flaw with screenshots up to this point, but it's 100% something I've leveraged for years to overcome overly strict DLP policies preventing copy/paste, sharing outside the work profile, and so on.

Pausing the work profile

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This change has been reverted

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Check out this article for more information. The below no longer applies to Android 14, but may be instead re-appear for Android 15 (or sooner in a QPR - quarterly patch release - if it's ready).

This'll be updated at a later date.

In Android 14 Google are introducing the ability to pause, rather than turn off, the work profile.

Think of it like an aggressive do not disturb mode for work apps, everything is still on and running in the background, but you're not alerted to anything.

Why would you choose to pause a work profile rather than just turn it off?

  • Applications continue to receive notifications and data in the background, so you're not inundated by them when you turn the profile on. Work apps are immediately available when unpausing (no wait time, or sync required).
  • Update policies continue to apply, so they can do so in the background rather than when the profile is back on. Obviously apps shared between both profiles will update even if the work profile is turned off, but apps only in the work profile won't unless the profile is on, normally.
  • Cross profile contacts are identified, so you'll know you're getting a call from the boss while the profile is paused. When completely off the numbers aren't identified.

The question I don't have an answer for at the moment is how this works with the policies that require a work profile to be turned on after a period of time. If a user can pause a work profile but still be considered having it turned on, this seems like a simple way of getting around that compliance requirement.

(July 2023): The compliance requirement appears to be unchanged since this is a full replacement to turning off the work profile, and not an additional option to control it.

Direct work contact messaging

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Likely leaning on the new cross profile APIs above, personal apps will be able to directly message work profile contacts in supported applications. Undoubtedly this will be subject to IT policy, so watch out for that!

Gesture navigation between work and personal profiles in-app

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Rolling out with Google apps in the short term, Google is showcasing a new, more cohesive user experience when switching between profiles.

This will be a drastic improvement on today's requirement that normally includes tapping into app settings or a context menu to switch to work, so I'm excited to see this!

UWB (Ultra-Wideband) support

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UWB is having a bit of a moment recently, with a lot of attention from the media on the solution in the last few months alone. For good reason, too, as the applications from unlocking vehicles to indoor positioning, asset tracking and more make it a compelling solution across various industries.

UWB is a communications protocol that permits high-speed, short-distance, & low-energy communication. It sits alongside other radios like Bluetooth, NFC, Wi-Fi, etc.

Since it is a radio, and means of sharing data, it was a matter of time before a management API popped up to control it. Per Google:

Starting in Android 14, a device or profile owner can disallow UWB on an organization-owned device by applying the DISALLOW_ULTRA_WIDEBAND_RADIO user restriction with DevicePolicyManager.addUserRestriction().

Again this is a device control limited to corporate owned devices, so fully managed or work profile on company owned (COPE) devices.

Given its breadth of use cases and applications it may be tempting to pre-emptively prohibit its use.. just keep this in mind when users complain they can't unlock their BMW!

Disabling 2G

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Snuck out between betas 4 and 5, Android 14 introduces a management API to disable 2G at the modem level. Originally launched in Android 12 as a user (and carrier)-configurable system setting, now organisations can benefit from fleet-wide security improvements by toggling it remotely for managed devices.

There's far more detail on this here

Native financing support

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Enterprise related for implications it brings to the wider Android platform, it appears 14 is introducing APIs to declare a device as being under finance with isDeviceFinanced.

The finance use case has existed for a few years, originally only accessible to select partners holding a direct agreement with Google with the use of a bespoke DPC called Device Lock Policy, it appears this has graduated and become a little more available recently, as Device Lock is a suggested APEX preload in Android 14.

Also fun fact, while Device Lock is leveraged with zero-touch and AMAPI on the back end, it's actually against permissable usage to leverage AMAPI for device financing. I say this for the benefit of the 3 companies a week who reach out to ask me how they can use AMAPI for this use case!

More importantly..

Device Policy Resolution Framework

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With Android 14, Google have potentially made the largest fundamental change to Android Enterprise since inception.

Historically it was permitted to have just one Device Owner on a device that wielded all power over the DevicePolicyManager APIs, the on-device APIs used to control and manage a managed Android device.

The Device Policy Resolution Framework has been introduced to handle conflicts when, in Android 14, more than one Device Policy Management Agent (an admin application) with the role DEVICE_POLICY_MANAGEMENT starts making calls to implement one of several (not all) policies on-device.

Only an OEM can grant this permission to an application, so rest assured this isn't going to be a return to the days of Device Admin, though there's certainly a whiff of familiarity here.

The obvious use case for this is financing, above, as the Device Lock application/APEX when preloaded by an OEM into a device works on the same DevicePolicyManager APIs as your typical EMM Device Policy Controller (DPC).

Of course because an OEM can grant applications the role of DEVICE_POLICY_MANAGEMENT, it's not infeasible to assume this may be leveraged in the future outside the two use cases already explained here. When an application is granted the DEVICE_POLICY_MANAGEMENT, here are the permissions it'll be able to leverage:

<permission-set name="notifications" />
<permission name="android.permission.BIND_DEVICE_ADMIN" />
<permission name="android.permission.MANAGE_DEVICE_ADMINS" />
<permission name="android.permission.NETWORK_MANAGED_PROVISIONING" />
<permission name="android.permission.PEERS_MAC_ADDRESS" />
<permission name="android.permission.USE_COLORIZED_NOTIFICATIONS" />
<permission name="android.permission.MASTER_CLEAR" />
<permission name="android.permission.WRITE_SECURE_SETTINGS" />
<permission name="android.permission.READ_PRIVILEGED_PHONE_STATE" />
<permission name="android.permission.START_ACTIVITIES_FROM_BACKGROUND" />
<permission name="android.permission.START_FOREGROUND_SERVICES_FROM_BACKGROUND" />
<permission name="android.permission.MANAGE_PROFILE_AND_DEVICE_OWNERS" />
<permission name="android.permission.INTERACT_ACROSS_USERS" />
<permission name="android.permission.INTERACT_ACROSS_USERS_FULL" />
<permission name="com.android.permission.INSTALL_EXISTING_PACKAGES" />
<permission name="android.permission.DELETE_PACKAGES" />
<permission name="android.permission.ACCESS_PDB_STATE" />
<permission name="android.permission.MARK_DEVICE_ORGANIZATION_OWNED" />
<permission name="android.permission.CHANGE_COMPONENT_ENABLED_STATE" />
<permission name="android.permission.SET_TIME" />
<permission name="android.permission.SET_TIME_ZONE" />
<permission name="android.permission.CRYPT_KEEPER" />
<permission name="android.permission.SHUTDOWN" />
<permission name="android.permission.PERFORM_CDMA_PROVISIONING" />
<permission name="android.permission.CONFIGURE_INTERACT_ACROSS_PROFILES" />
<permission name="android.permission.WRITE_SETTINGS" />
<permission name="android.permission.CHANGE_CONFIGURATION" />
<permission name="android.permission.LAUNCH_DEVICE_MANAGER_SETUP" />
<permission name="android.permission.INSTALL_DPC_PACKAGES" />
<permission name="android.permission.QUERY_USERS" />
<permission name="android.permission.UPDATE_DEVICE_MANAGEMENT_RESOURCES" />
<permission name="android.permission.QUERY_ADMIN_POLICY" />
<permission name="android.permission.TRIGGER_LOST_MODE" />

That's not an insignificant list of permissions. Some of them offering a lot of control.

What the DPRF does, then, is implement precedence for handling competing Device Policy Management Agents' policies.

For the most part the DPRF defaults to most restrictive, but this is not the case globally, as in some instances, for example managing disabled applications, it will combine policies to remove everything requested, while in other cases it will defer preference in the following order:

  • Device Lock
  • Device Policy Controller (EMM Agent)
  • Any other DPMA

Why does Device Lock, the finance agent, get precedence over EMM or other device agents? Because if a device is financed and the owner falls into breach of the financial agreement, Device Lock needs to be able to lock the device out without competing enterprise policies getting in the way.

There's substantially more to unpack on this change in Android 14, and I'm still digging, but this is a fascinating new approach Google are taking, one undoubtedly potentially open to abuse if it's not well monitored.

Other features

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There are several other features that I haven't mentioned, but everything I've found so far is available in the DevicePolicyManager developer docs for further reading if interested.

This is looking to be a decent release!

edit_note Edit this page.

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