Smartphone Ice Cream Sandwich, Android Enterprise 2012

Smartphones equipped with Android 4.0 aka Ice Cream Sandwich have not yet hit the shelves in the United States, but that has not stopped the CyanogenMod team’s efforts to make Google’s latest operating system a reality for those willing to take a plunge.

CyanogenMod’s distinction as aftermarket firmware designed for Android smartphones allows it to supply users with enhanced features.  The team behind the firmware has been recently working on CyanogenMod 9, a version based on Ice Cream Sandwich’s open source code which Google released during the middle of November.  As of right now, owners of the Samsung Nexus S can make use of an alpha version of CyanogenMod 9, while Samsung Galaxy S owners can try out a beta version.  Users and developers have given mostly positive feedback on the CyanogenMod releases thus far, with only a few MMS bugs and other minor annoyances reported as negatives.

Bassmadrigal, a moderator on the CyanogenMod forum, discussed any possible timeframe for the team’s official release in rather uncertain terms: “There is no roadmap, and no deadlines. The CM dev team keeps quiet about what they expect to have done and when. Part of this is because the members of the core dev team aren’t the only people contributing CM. Many of the features and bug fixes come from people outside of the dev team.”  Koushik Dutta, a CyanogenMod coder, said that version 9’s development is coming along nicely.  In a post on the xdadevelopers forum, he added, “Everything seems to be running great so far, and this ROM can easily be a daily driver for most enthusiasts.”

Until CyanogenMod does finish their Ice Cream Sandwich rendition, there is some good news for Android owners, as the following smartphones are supposedly first on the list to receive the newest version of Google’s mobile OS, as reported by PCWorld: Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Samsung Nexus S, LG Optimus 2X, Motorola Droid Razr, Motorola Xoom, Motorola Droid Bionic, and Sony Xperia.  In addition to those listed, Google suggested that devices running Android 2.3 Gingerbread should be able to upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich eventually, but that decision would ultimately be up to the carriers.

While the prospect of experiencing all of Ice Cream Sandwich’s sweet goodies on your Android phone is highly tempting, such reward does not come without risk.  Attempting to root a smartphone could result in bricking, rendering it essentially useless.  Prior to installing CyanogenMod, it’s a wise practice to backup your smartphone’s data with an app such as Titanium.

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Will 2012 Be Android’s Year of the Enterprise?

Once 2012 rolls around, it should bring with it plenty of promise as technology continues to advance.  Chief information officers, or CIOs, will undoubtedly welcome such advances, but they will also bring several challenges along the way in terms of decision making.  Android devices are growing in popularity at a high rate, which means many employees will want to adopt their smartphones and tablets for enterprise use.  While such a transition could boost productivity, those in charge of IT departments will be faced with the pressure of trying to accept products into the enterprise that are lacking in proper security or other areas.

One of the most appealing factors of smartphones and tablets is the fact that they can boost productivity immensely through their integrated functionality or with the help of apps.  Aaron Freimark, IT director at Tekserve, a company which helps with iPad adoption for Fortune 1000 companies, said: “Some of the best of us will say good riddance" to the old ways.  Now we’re able to concentrate on having people be productive with technology.”

Over time, the popularity of Android devices has managed to skyrocket similar to their counterparts from Apple.  As Android’s presence grows amongst consumers, it’s expected to translate into the enterprise world as well.  Ojas Rege, MobileIron’s VP of products, noted: “As companies prep for 2012, we’re expecting increased pressure to adopt Android.  There will be a spike of Android devices coming to the enterprise after the holidays and a spike in the second half of the year as more devices are upgraded.” 

Although the pressure from employees will make CIOs take notice, a majority of the Android devices in question are simply not ready for the enterprise stage.  Security is a major point of contention, as Android’s distinction of being an open platform spread across numerous operating system versions, carriers, and devices makes it susceptible to malware.  A statistic released by Trend Micro that showed an incredible 1,410 percent increase in Android threats from January to July of this year brings the platform’s security issues to light.  According to blogger Constantine von Hoffman, Android’s popularity is one of its biggest enemies.  He wrote: “Google’s Android OS has become a malware magnet.  Its dominance as a smartphone platform is turning it into a much bigger security risk compared to Apple’s iPhone."

The security concerns are not being ignored, as Google and Android vendors are taking steps to make their devices less penetrable by malware.  In the meantime, CIOs will have to withstand pressure from employees pushing for Android’s use in the workplace until such devices become enterprise-ready. 

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