Google’s list of business-friendly Android phones has one major flaw

Google's list of business-friendly Android phones has one major flaw

Android Enterprise Recommended, the company told us, would be a “Google-led global initiative that raises the bar of excellence for enterprise devices and services.” It’d establish “best practices and common requirements” for business-ready Android devices, and it’d ensure any phone with the stamp of approval provided a professional and properly supported experience without all of the common ecosystem asterisks.

The Android Enterprise Recommended programme makes some big claims, but according to a Computerworld investigation, it’s not all it’s built up to be. At least, that’s Google’s official line, and the narrative it’s been pushing since the start of its Android Enterprise Recommended programme in February 2018.

Highlights

  • Some four years after its launch, though, Google’s Android Enterprise Recommended program seems to have devolved into a mostly meaningless afterthought. There’s a disconcerting disconnect between the program’s front-facing promise and what you find when you dig deeply into its offerings and look closely at what’s actually happening with the devices it’s endorsed. And for any company that’s relying on that seal of approval as a guide to which Android phones offer an optimally secure and up-to-date environment suitable for enterprise use, that disconnect could lead to some troublingly flawed decisions.

  • It certainly sounds smart and sensible. The enterprise realm in particular is closely tuned into security and data protection, and having workers carry devices that don’t receive timely and reliable software updates — whether we’re talking about the monthly security patches or the bigger operating system releases around them — poses an unacceptable risk for any cautious organization.

The Moto Z4, however, had received the then-current Android 10 operating system update more than six months after its release, with absolutely no communication along the way. And reporting at the time indicated it had gone months without any security patch updates and remained perpetually out of date on that front as well  Now, the truly shocking twist: Pull up that same first-level “Devices” page today, nearly two years later, and what do you see? Yep, you guessed it: the now-three-year-old Moto Z4, still prominently featured as the top device earning Google’s stamp of approval.

I first wrote about the issues with Google’s Android Enterprise Recommended program nearly two years ago, in July 2020. At the time, I noted that the program’s “Devices” page prominently featured some phones that were woefully out of date and in direct conflict with the security-minded promises on that very same screen. Specifically, as I observed at the time, the first phone listed on the page was the Motorola-made Moto Z4 — a device that was “validated by Google” for meeting its “highest standards,” with “regular security updates guaranteed,” as the page proclaimed.

The Moto Z4, suffice it to say, hasn’t been officially supported with updates for months at this point. Heck, it was barely supported even when it was technically still in line for active ongoing rollouts. And yet, it’s somehow still the top-featured device on Google’s Android Enterprise Recommended website — along with other equally outdated and no-longer-supported products.