BARCELONA: Samsung's Galaxy smartphones have been the most hotly anticipated Android handsets since the launch of the Galaxy S3 in 2012.
This remained the case at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2014 when on Monday night hundreds – if not thousands – of eager fans, journalists, bloggers and partners tuned in to watch the Korean firm unveil the Galaxy S5.
However, for me the more interesting news came the next day, when Samsung hosted a separate enterprise event where it unveiled its latest version of Knox.
For those that do not know, Knox is a security service based on NSA technology designed to try and bring security to its Galaxy devices and the first version was debuted on the Galaxy S4 in 2013. At a basic level Knox is a sandboxing service that lets users create separate work and personal areas on their device. The work area is password protected and encrypts any data stored on it. The feature also allows IT managers to perform tasks such as remote wipe files stored on the work side without deleting content on the personal side.
The new Knox version builds on the original's security features and adds upgraded certificate management, VPN+ and an enhanced container security powers capabilities as well as new Knox Marketplace and Knox Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) services.
Knox Marketplace is an enterprise mobility app service that lets users download and use Samsung Knox services and business-focused apps and productivity aids, such as Microsoft Office or Box storage. Meanwhile, EMM is a cloud-based mobile management service that makes it easier for IT managers to monitor and control devices running Knox.
These new powers make Knox far more interesting and important than the Galaxy S5. This is because, despite being a great smartphone with some cool new features – including a heart rate monitor – the S5's overall significance is not that wide reaching. After all, it's not the inability of previous Samsung Galaxy smartphones to check their user's pulse that has kept them from entering the enterprise – it is security concerns.
Hackers' interest in Android has been growing radidly over the last few years because as an open platform it is woefully light on inbuilt security features. Key issues around Android's open nature, such as the ability to set up third-party app stores, make it easier for criminals to sneak things like Trojan apps onto the platform rather than on closed ecosystems such as Windows Phone and iOS.
This, combined with Android's high user base, makes the platform an ideal breeding ground for cyber scams and is a key reason IT managers have been hesitant to let Google smartphones run on their systems – after all, would you really want a platform that is currently listed by many security and telecoms companies as being the target of 99 per cent of all known mobile malware running on your systems?
For this reason, I think Samsung's effort to help rectify the situation and combat the security pandemic hitting Android with the release of the new Knox services will have wider and longer lasting significance than the Galaxy S5.
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