Major disruptive changes to managing Android Devices with ZENworks - Read this important information

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Many of you use ZENworks to manage Android devices with-in your organization. Internally, ZENworks makes use of Google's Android Enterprise framework to provide Android management capabilities. This involves use of Android API's which are managed by Google. Now, time to time Google makes changes to these API's and we make changes with-in ZENworks to keep abreast of these changes. Most of time, these changes are something which don't affect the functionality and are hidden from our customers.

However, this time around Google has deprecated a set of API's which affects management of Android Apps with-in ZENworks. These changes are extensive in nature and unless corresponding changes are done in ZENworks, it won't be possible to manage Android App with-in ZENworks.

What is Changing ?

Google has deprecated a set of API's primarily dealing with how following areas -

  • Approval of Apps from Google Console
  • Subsequent flow of App information (App meta data & Managed configuration) from Google to ZENworks Console
  • Installation of Apps on Devices
  • List of Managed Apps available on Devices

While above API's have been deprecated, a newer set of API's have been provided to do above set of task. In our view these newer set of API's end up providing a better experience for our customers. So though, approving an app from Google console has been deprecated, there is going to be a new mechanism which would allow selection of Play Store apps right from ZENworks console.

Which ZENworks Versions are impacted ?

The above changes impact  ALL ZENworks versions, which offer Android Management, starting from ZENworks 2017 Update 2 till our latest version - ZENworks 2020 Update 2.

When is this change taking place and what is the impact on ZENworks Installations?

As per latest information from Google, this change is going to happen in 2 parts. There are 2 dates to note here - 

31st August, 2022 - On 31st Aug, the API's which govern the approval of Apps from Google console and subsequent flow of information from Google Console to ZENworks would be turned off by Google. This would affect ZENworks installations in following manner -

What would continue to Work -  

  • There won't be any impact to apps already installed on Android Devices. The installed apps would continue to function as before.
  • Any app which has been already approved in Google Console before this date and is available in ZENworks Console would be available for further assignment and operations.
  • For all Apps available in ZENworks It would be possible to assign the app to devices / users and it would get installed properly on devices. Additionally it would be possible to get App installation status back.
  • Some Apps have 'Managed Configurations', through which configurations can be applied on Apps at the time of installation. The existing Managed Configurations would be honored and would continue to work.

What Won't Work

  • Post this date, it won't be able to possible to approve Apps in Play Store using Google Console.
  • If there is an App, which was approved but due to some reason hasn't yet appeared in ZENworks Console, it would never appear in ZENworks Console.
  • 'Managed Configurations' for Apps can be periodically updated by App developers. Any such updates won't appear in ZENworks and thus won't get sent to installed Apps.

31st December, 2022 - On 31st December, API's which govern the installation of Apps on Devices would be turned off by Google. Google would also be turning off the API;s which collects information about apps already installed on Devices. 

What would continue to Work - 

  • Apps already installed on devices would continue to remain so and would continue to work. ​​

What Won't work - 

  • Though, it would be possible to create a new App assignment to a user or device, the assignment would fail, as new App installation would fail on the device.
  • Existing App Assignments would start showing a Failure status, as it won't be possible to retrieve App installation status from device. Though as mentioned earlier, any App already installed would continue to remain installed and function.
  • The device logs ​and service and loader logs with-in ZENworks would start showing a host of errors, as things fail. 

For Customers on ZENworks 2020 Update 2

We have worked with Google and made appropriate changes in our code to avoid the impact of above changes and to ensure that our customers can continue to manage their Android devices in a similar manner as before but with few workflow changes. We are soon planning to release a Patch for ZENworks 2020 Update 2 to mitigate these changes. This patch would be made available some time before the changes from Google go into affect. Additionally, these changes are already built into our upcoming release - ZENworks 2020 Update 3. 

For customers on release earlier than ZENworks 2020 Update 2

As of now, Micro Focus provides committed support only for ZENworks 2020 Update 2. However, we do recognize that many of our customers are still on a release earlier than ZENworks 2020 Update 2. We tried our best to find out a solution for all such customers, but unfortunately, due to complexity and nature of changes, it is not possible for us to release a patch for releases earlier than ZENworks 2020 Update 2. 

Thus, we would strongly recommend that in order to have working Android management functionality customers should move to ZENworks 2020 Update 2 as soon as possible. The release has been available for almost 9 months and is pretty stable. If you are unable to upgrade before 31st August, we would recommend that before this date, you ensure that you have all the required Android Apps available with-in ZENworks. This would ensure that you have time to upgrade your zone till 31st Dec -2022, beyond which, as mentioned above, it won't be possible to install new Apps on devices.

If you have more questions or concerns, please do reach out to your ZENworks Support contact or post your concern in the comment section below. Alternatively, you can send out a mail to zen@microfocus.com

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