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Android glossary

This document offers definitions and descriptions of commonly referenced acronyms, names, features and more that appear in published Android and Android Enterprise documents both here on bayton.org and elsewhere.

If there are definitions missing or incomplete, please feel free to suggest additions via email, twitter, a comment or the contact form.

API

One or more functions of an application or service that may be accessed by a 3rd party, either publicly or with authentication. As a practical example, the EMM agent on a device may request a passcode is set and/or validate it is both set and within policy requirements frequently by leaning on the relevant device API for this information.

COBO

Corporate Owned, Business Only. In which a device will have no capacity or capability to permit for personal usage; the Play Store will be locked down to only corporate applications, any options for sideloading APKs will be disabled and basic functions such as camera, account management and more may not be present. COBO devices can only be used in a corporate context. See work-managed.

COPE

Corporate Owned, Personally Enabled. A COPE device will support both work and (limited) personal usage often by separating or containerising corporate data away from the personal space, allowing for the addition of a personal account, applications and more. Often COPE devices will see limited restrictions in the personal space, whilst DLP controls heavily restrict the movement of corporate data beyond the container, or work profile. See work profiles on fully managed devices.

COSU (Kiosk)

Corporate Owned, Single Use. Often associated with a kiosk, COSU is designed for single-purpose devices such as point-of-sale, asset tracking, fixed store display terminals, etc. A COSU device may be locked down to one, or multiple applications and is often controlled via a kiosk profile through EMM.

Device administrator

This is the name for what can be considered the legacy method of managing an Android device. It is so called because when using an application that requires control over the device, such as an EMM agent, the application will prompt the user to grant it administrator privileges. Once granted, the application will have unrestricted access to device functionality and information in order to do whatever it needs without hindrance. This access is equally why device admin can be dangerous.

Device owner

An older term for what is now mostly referenced as work-managed. Device owner is the process of setting an EMM agent as the device policy controller for the entire device. It is essentially what has replaced device administrator on legacy devices and enrolments.

DPC (Device Policy Controller)

DPC, or Device Policy Controller, is one name for the EMM agent locally installed on a mobile device. Some examples of a DPC include MobileIron Mobile@Work and AirWatch Agent. These applications control and enforce policies on devices sent down from the EMM server.

DPC extras

These are optional snippets of configuration (or metadata) an administrator can pass to the DPC in order to configure additional dynamic functionality into the DPC. An example of this would be sending the console URL for a hosted EMM platform, user names and/or passwords for automatic staging, whether system apps should be enabled or disabled and more.

DPC identifier (DPCi)

A provisioning method for Android Enterprise work-managed enrolments, DPC identifiers are provided and maintained by Google for EMM partners supporting Android Enterprise work-managed enrolment. The DPC identifier is entered during setup in place of the Google account when asked to sign in to the device and starts with AFW#. Some examples of a DPCi are:

  • afw#mobileiron.cloud
  • afw#airwatch
  • afw#blackberry
  • afw#meraki

Some external documentation may also reference this as EMM token or Wireless Enrolment Token (WET)

GMS certified/certification

Not to be confused with the GMS license, which is simply permission for a company to use/distribute the Google suite of applications, GMS certification provides Google’s stamp of approval that a device meets Google’s recommended specifications and requirements. It is not a requirement for devices to be GMS certified in order to be made and sold – a notable example being the Amazon Fire line of tablets – however Android Enterprise is officially only supported on GMS certified devices and therefore purchasing non-GMS certified devices, such as low-cost options from China, is almost certainly going to result in difficulty managing them.

NFC

Near Field Communication(s) – NFC is a radio on the device used for close-proximity data transmission. Android Pay utilises NFC for contactless payments, however it is also widely used in the EMM industry for device enrolment/provisioning, supporting the transmission of EMM server or Android Enterprise data from a host device to the target with a simple bump.

OEM

Original Equipment Manufacturer, a manufacturer of devices such as Samsung, Sony or LG.

Parent profile

The parent profile is essentially the device on a BYOD work profile deployment. It is referred to as the parent profile as the work profile is integrated into it. Technically the profiles sit alongside each other on the device rather than the work profile being a “child” of the parent, however this is how it’s perceived and commonly explained.

Profile owner

An older term for what is now mostly referenced as work profile. A profile owner is normally considered to be the DPC installed on a device by an EMM solution or a user if downloaded from the Play Store. It has permission to create a work profile, manipulate it and remove it, but holds very little control over the parent profile

Provisioning

The act of preparing a device for enrolment. During provisioning the device will download and install a DPC, then set the device as work-managed before landing on the home screen (or just before depending on when EMM enrolment is prompted). In the provisioning guides, provisioning and enrolment are clearly referred to as two separate tasks for deploying a device. Once provisioning completes, the user can then enrol through the DPC.

Unknown sources

This is a setting on most Android devices to permit the installation of applications via means external to the official Play Store. If you’ve ever tried to install an APK file on a device, you will have been prompted to enable unknown sources. Installation of applications via unknown sources however contributes to well over 60% of all malware and other threats, and is therefore strongly discouraged – in fact, it’s disabled in Android Enterprise by default.

Work challenge

A secondary passcode requirement for BYOD work profile devices. Not dissimilar to traditional container solutions which required a PIN in order to access the applications within. Essentially you’ll have one passcode to unlock the device, then another passcode requirement in order to open any work applications.

Work-managed

Please see What is Android Enterprise and why is it used > Diving deeper with work-managed devices for information on work-managed.

Work profile

Please see What is Android Enterprise and why is it used > BYOD and work profile for information on work profile.

Work profiles on fully managed devices

Please see What is Android Enterprise and why is it used > Diving deeper with work-managed devices for information on work profiles on fully managed devices.

Zero-touch

Please see What is Android zero-touch enrolment? for information on zero-touch.

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2 responses to “Android glossary”

  1. […] waiting for since its announcement last year! For those unfamiliar, WPoFMD is the equivalent of COPE – Corporate Owned, Personally Enabled – which has also gone by the name of COMP […]

  2. […] deployments will be prevented from enrolling legacy Android devices (device administrator enrolment) by default without explicitly opting in to legacy […]