On this episode of The DroidDevCast podcast, Esper Platform Evangelist Rin Oliver was joined by Esper COO Shiv Sundar, Esper CEO Yadhu Gopalan, Esper VP of Customer Success Chris Stirrat, Esper Director of Cybersecurity Jasmine Henry, and Esper VP of Technical Sales Keith Szot. Together, this panel of Esper team members and executives discussed some of the trends we’ve seen this year in terms of Android devices and Android software development.

Android Highlights in 2020 from the Esper Team

2020 was a challenging year for the world as a whole. Enterprises and small businesses alike had to pivot their strategies quickly, making more use than ever before of Android-based kiosks, contactless payment solutions, and other offerings in order to ensure their continued success. “We saw more enterprises deploying Android-based devices as part of their overall solution. What you could see was acceleration of the deployment to address the fact that many are working from home and the need to reduce physical customer interaction. And this particular kind of capability that customers needed to empower underscores how important a product like Esper is to fill the large gap that exists and will continue to exist for the foreseeable future. It’s this capability that we can enable enterprises small and large to deploy devices at scale and have a rigorous control of how their applications are deployed and monitored on their devices,” said Gopalan.

Another key focal point this year was that of security. With many large-scale security breaches having taken place in recent weeks, Henry highlighted the importance of companies protecting their devices and customer data from both user and cloud threats as a key focus of 2020. “The result was a perimeter 2.0 security model. And instead of creating a perimeter around a traditional network, it was about creating boundaries around a really tightly defined usage model that prevented unauthorized use. And I think that those types of really defined single-use scenarios are often the best risk controls in many use cases. Also closing off user access to expose the device to unsecured networks or cloud risks, safeguards against privacy risks in industries like education and healthcare,” Henry noted.

Szot highlights Google’s continued focus on Project Mainline as having interesting implications for custom-built devices. As AOSP continues to improve Android’s overall architecture for delivering system updates, simplifying this process in order to deliver security patches to deployed devices translates to less engineering overhead costs for the device makers in the ecosystem. “ We’re hopeful this translates into faster availability of patches for custom-built devices resulting in more secure devices deployed in the field. Now it’s going to continue. According to Google, you’ll see the Android runtime, the ART, included in Project Mainline with Android 12. And this is a very important part of the core system and it will be more easily updatable moving forward when we hit Android 12 in 2021,” said Szot.

Esper Use Cases in 2020 and Beyond 

As 2020 has gone on, many companies found themselves having to not only pivot, but embrace a digital-first landscape where they were once solely retail or physically focused. From a security standpoint, device health was at the forefront of many organizations, with cloud security a close second. “I was really impressed by the way that some of our customers took a holistic approach to device health this year. And we’re including network security and data encryption. Esper is unique in the sense that it offers the ability to see every layer of device security. Your hardware, firmware, configurations, apps, and content, and respond in real time as those risks emerge,” said Henry. 

The Covid 19 pandemic also drove a vast amount of change into the technology landscape and business operations. “It was breathtaking to see the swing with our customers, depending on what vertical they were in, for better or for worse. Retail was hit hard and they had to make a lot of switches in terms of their business model and their focus,” said Szot, adding that Esper has played a critical role in remote healthcare and telehealth operations for many businesses this year, including remote patient monitoring, on-body sensors, and more. “That is a big one. It allowed people to be able to stay at home and have remote care that otherwise would not have been practically available to them in this environment. And the other one is the situation with retirement homes. Older people that got hit hard from a social perspective due to COVID. And, basically, they get locked up in their rooms for their own protection, but really without a lot to do. And so one of our customers provides entertainment and communication devices for senior citizens, and they had a huge uptake in their business,” Szot said.

Some businesses saw digital transformation as the key to staying afloat during the pandemic, with the trend accelerating and increasing enterprise adoption of a digital-first approach. “They started to really internalize the fact that they had to come up with something that was more modern, that took advantage of customers really wanting to be able to interact digitally with the product. And this can be from fitness to healthcare, but to drive a really innovative customer experience is what we see. And really I think this is just going to continue, and more and more companies are going to want to have a device or some experience as part of their overall solution,” said Gopalan.

In this Episode of The DroidDevCast:

00:40 – What did each of you see as the biggest surprise in the Android ecosystem this year?
03:34 – AOSP and its impact on custom devices
08:11 – What does Android 11 mean for the dedicated device market?
12:03 – What was your favorite device or customer use case this year?
15:45 – How did you see the landscape and ecosystem evolve this year?
19:30 – What’s the key thing that you see as being the most beneficial when deploying Esper Foundation for Android on single-purpose devices?
24:48 – In what ways have you seen the Android DevOps space evolve this year?
27:50 – Is there anything you’d like to mention for our listeners as we wrap up 2020?

The full transcript of this interview is on Simplecast. Please subscribe to Esper’s YouTube to be first in line for future episodes of The DroidDevCast.