How to Schedule Updates to Offline Android Devices

Koji is an IT manager for a global eCommerce brand. He’s grinding away at his task list when he receives a Slack message from a coworker. Apparently, the app used by field agents has a critical bug that’s preventing orders from being completed.

“We need to release our new app version to all our field agent devices,” writes product manager Geri. “This bug is really hurting our business.” 

Koji immediately gets to work. He opens the MDM platform and uploads the updated app version. Next, Koji pushes the update to all 300 field agent devices. Well, more accurately, he tried to push the update and failed.

Koji received an error message from his MDM software:

“Great,” Koji says internally. He’ll need to figure out which devices are offline and where they’re located. “Maybe I’d better text my wife and tell her to cancel our dinner plans.”

Can You Update Android Apps When Devices are Offline?

Offline Updates are Tedious and Time-Consuming

Koji can get device details from the MDM, but he’ll need to use this information to reach out to 100 field agents to ask each one to turn on their device. The field agents and their devices are located across his company’s global network.

Plus, there are 100 offline devices, which is half of the field agent fleet. Koji’s mind starts spinning when he thinks about how long it’s going to take to reach each agent and ask them to turn on their device. He’s looking at a minimum of 8 hours work, and honestly, it will probably take much longer.

Since the app upgrade is essential to his company’s operations, Koji is going to be working long hours until all field agent apps are updated. 

When Traditional MDM Features aren’t Cutting It

While Koji isn’t a real person, his problems aren’t fake. This scenario is a common challenge for single-purpose device admins. 

Currently, there are two options to handle offline device updates in a traditional MDM software:

  • Update Devices Individually
    The moment each device comes online, it’s possible to go device-by-device and upgrade the app version. It’s time-consuming, and requires IT admin to continually monitor which devices are reconnected before app updates can be pushed. 
  • Update Device Group
    Assuming the MDM solution supports group app updates, it’s possible to wait until all 100 offline devices are reconnected before pushing out the latest app version. Again, this is time-consuming and it means checking to see if all disconnected devices are back online before the critical bug can be fixed.

How Do You Update Offline Android Devices?

There’s no shortage of valid reasons why single-purpose devices are offline for 8+ hours each day. A device could be disconnected from a traditional MDM solution because it’s:

  • Turned off
  • Stored in Device Inventory
  • Having power cord issues
  • Experiencing USB connectivity problems
  • Connected to a network that’s offline
  • Stolen or lost 

Unfortunately, without advanced telemetry and geofencing, there’s often no way to tell why a device is online. Traditional MDM solutions rely on network connectivity to push updates, and offer few insights into device state or health.

Administrators like Koji are left with a lot of manual work and guesswork to finish a critical update cycle. It’s a real pain, especially in single-use device scenarios where devices are frequently powered down during off hours. 

If a device has been accidentally unplugged or tampered with, it can be an extremely long wait to successfully push out an updated app version.

What’s the Smartest Option for Offline Device Updates?

It’s anyone’s guess how Koji’s story ended, but you can safely assume a few things. Chances are, he spent the next 48 hours working on very little sleep. He also probably sent a lot of Slack messages to field agents pleading for their help fixing the bug. Koji’s story could have ended much sooner and with far fewer headaches if he’d been using Esper.

Offline Device Management in Esper is as easy as selecting a single checkbox before you push out an app update to an entire group of devices. Simply choose the option to queue commands to offline devices after uploading a new app version.

Esper’s platform shows complete device status information at the beginning of an update to support smarter decisions. In most real-world scenarios, a percentage of your devices will be offline at any given time.

Queueing up offline updates removes the need to manually track down users or run multiple updates. The moment offline devices are powered on, they will download the updated app version and other scheduled changes. It’s a hassle-free process that saves a lot of manual effort and increases IT admin productivity.

Simplify Offline Updates to Android Devices

It’s also possible to check the status of device updates with easy activity trackers and a real-time news feed feature in Esper. If you’re pushing out a critical bug fix you can keep product management up-to-date on status.

Offline management capabilities mean fewer late nights and less frustrating, manual work for critical fixes. 

Esper’s Android DevOps platform supports queuing requests for offline devices for app updates and other common scenarios like:  

  • Update settings
  • Reboot 
  • Factory reset
  • Lockdown devices
  • Switch device mode
  • Change display settings
  • Update compliance policy
  • Modify device display

You can scope out the full details in our documentation. Better yet, try our free, 30-day trial and experience Esper for yourself. Sign up today.

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