Android Work Profile

Android has a neat feature called Work Profile that sandboxes work apps & data from personal apps & data. If needed, your company can (remotely) manage and/or wipe just the Work related data without touching your personal data. This makes it really easy to use personal devices for work usage, while staying compliant with data security requirements.

However, Android doesn’t include any built-in user interface to create and manage a Work profile. This feature is only exposed as APIs that 3rd party Mobile Device Management (MDM) vendor products leverage. Examples: VMWare, Google.

Thankfully, there’s a neat OSS app called Shelter that implements a UI on top of the APIs, making it possible for you to create a Work profile right on the phone.

With Shelter, you can create a Work profile and manage apps within it, all from your phone. This is incredibly useful if your company uses Google Workspace since it keeps your personal Google account separate from the Google Workspace account that is used for work. You get two different instances of GMail, Calendar, Drive, etc. No cognitive overhead of making sure that you are using the right account!

It’s a complete experience! Links opened from a Work profile app open in Chrome (or another browser) within the Work profile. Clipboard & filesystem contents are separated so there’s no accidental leak of data from Work to Personal or vice-versa. Very nicely done & highly recommended!

One slightly unintuitive aspect of setting up Shelter was enabling Widgets. I wanted to have the calendar widget on the Android homescreen and the widget wasn’t available at first. The solution was to open the Shelter app, navigate to the Calendar app entry on the Shelter profile, click on it and then enable the Allow Widgets in Main Profile setting for the app.

I really wish Windows and MacOS also implemented something like a Work Profile for our desktop environments as well. In this post-covid world where work-from-home is the norm, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is not limited to phones any more!