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Android TV Management with MDM

Android TV brings the Android experience to the screens with its customized launcher, voice interface, app store, and more. It’s still Android under the hood with Google’s integrated services. The platform is specifically designed for smart TVs, set-top boxes, and other digital media players.

Deploying and manually attending to large fleets of Android TV devices can be daunting for IT administrators. With Hexnode’s robust and easy-to-use MDM solution, administrators can harness Android TV to its full potential. It streamlines the process of securing and controlling devices right from its centralized console.

This article will guide you in managing the entire lifecycle of Android TV devices using Hexnode UEM.

Note:

  • Android TV supports almost all features of a generic Android device.
  • Hexnode supports the management of all device-admin enabled Android TV’s running Android 4.2 and later versions.

Use Cases of Android TV in Enterprise

Android TV now finds its application in almost all industries. Let’s see how Android TV is revolutionizing the enterprise ecosystem:

  • Kitchen displays for restaurants
  • Budget-friendly digital signages for businesses
  • Controlled media devices for hotels
  • Quick presentation tool for meetings
  • Arrival/Departure screens for airports/railways
  • Streaming media for entertainment

Enroll Android TV devices in Hexnode

Device enrollment is the initial phase of device management. In order to enable remote management of Android TV devices, the MDM service requires the devices to enroll in Hexnode UEM. Prior to enrolling devices, make sure to configure the required enrollment settings in the portal.

Android TV supports only device admin enrollments. It means that you’ve to install the Hexnode MDM app from the Google Play Store on the devices. Then, open the app and enter the MDM server name. Next, authenticate with your directory or local credentials if ‘Enforce Authentication’ is enabled under ‘Enrollment Settings’. In case the authentication mode is set to ‘No Authentication’, follow the on-screen instructions to complete the enrollment process.

Android TVs also support pre-approved enrollment. Here, administrators can proactively apply restrictions and configurations to the devices, even before the enrollment is completed from the user-end. As the device is manually enrolled later, all the applied policies will take effect. However, note that pre-approved enrollment is not available for Android TVs running Android 10 or later versions.

Note:

  • Except for the enrollment methods mentioned above, Android TV does not support other Android-specific enrollments, including Zero-touch, Knox Mobile Enrollment (KME), or Android Enterprise (AE) enrollments.

Manage Android TV devices with Hexnode

Here’s how Hexnode’s MDM solution simplify Android TV device management:

Remote Actions – one-time activity

Newly enrolled Android TV devices will be listed under Manage > Devices. The Manage tab offers a plethora of quick device management and monitoring capabilities. You can execute a bunch of one-time actions to an individual device or multiple devices. Some of the major actions supported on Android TV include:

Remotely View Android TV screens

Pre-requisites:

  • Ensure to check ‘Enable Remote View’ from Admin > Remote View & Control Settings.
  • Make sure that the Hexnode Remote View app is installed on the device.
  • Keep the following ports open: Port 80, Port 443, Port 3478, Port 5349.

The Remote View module available on the Device Summary page of a device will facilitate administrators to view Android TV screens in real-time. You can also adjust the remote video quality and rotate screens at your convenience. Follow the steps mentioned below to enable the remote view of Android TV devices:

  1. Head on to Manage > Devices.
  2. Click on the Android TV from the list of devices. This will take you to the device details page.
  3. Click on ‘Start Session’ under the Remote View panel to remotely view the Android TV.

Real-time location tracking and Geofencing

Pre-requisites:

Android TV does not have a GPS module. So, Hexnode uses the device’s network information to estimate the location of the device. An admin can enable periodic or instantaneous location tracking to fetch the whereabouts of the device. It also stores the complete history of locations traversed by the devices.

Hexnode offers multiple ways to view the location of Android TVs from its console:

  • The Location History widget available in the Dashboard displays the location of all location-enabled devices.
  • The Location History tab available in the device details page displays the history of locations traversed, last check-in, and total check-in status of that device.
  • The Recent Location under Device Summary showcases the recent location and last reported time of that device.
  • The Locations tab under Users/Device Groups/User Groups will also show the location details of the respective Users/Device Groups/User Groups.

The geofencing feature lets you create virtual geographical fences and apply configurations or restrictions for devices that are within or outside of the virtual boundaries. Any devices that enter a restricted region or move out of the specified region will be marked as non-compliant in the portal.

Apply Android TV restrictions

Hexnode offers an exhaustive list of restrictions to control and manage Android TVs. These devices support all restrictions except those specific to Samsung Knox, LG GATE, Kyocera business phones, or devices enrolled in the Android Enterprise program. To configure restrictions for Android TV devices,

  1. Head on to Policies > Android > Restrictions.
  2. Configure the set of restrictions mentioned below for your Android TV:
    • Safe mode
    • Screen Orientation (may not work as expected on some Android TVs)
    • Screen Timeout
    • Wi-Fi
    • Force Wi-Fi
    • Bluetooth
    • Force Bluetooth
  3. Associate the restrictions with the target Android TV devices and save the policy.

Manage the lifecycle of Android TV apps

You can add, distribute, or remove store or enterprise apps on Android TVs without a hassle. Distributing these apps to the devices will prompt the users to initiate the installation process.

Initially, you have to add apps to the app inventory.You can add apps from the Play Store, enterprise apps, web apps, and add apps using their Bundle IDs. You can also create app groups (Apps > App Groups) to add multiple apps to a bundle for distribution.

You can distribute the apps to the target devices in three ways:

  • Push the apps via the ‘Mandatory Apps’ policy to ensure all the essential apps are installed on the device.
  • Execute a one-time action – Install Application.
  • Deploy an ‘App Catalog’ (Apps > App Catalog) that contains the required set of apps.

Hexnode also allows you to push store and enterprise app updates to Android TV devices. Automatic update of store apps works for apps that are initially distributed via the Mandatory Apps policy. Updating enterprise apps requires either replacing the older app version or updating the new version to the app inventory.

You can also initiate the removal of apps without needing any physical access to the device. However, users will be prompted to uninstall the apps from the Android TV.

Transform Android TVs to digital kiosks

Android TV for digital signages

Digital signage displays are becoming essential in almost all business environments. Businesses now find Android TV as an excellent choice for digital signages since it has a much lesser lower price-point compared to its Android counterparts. The flexibility and enhanced performance make them an excellent solution for digital signages with shallow interaction. So, companies are in dire need of a cost-effective solution that can manage and control these displays remotely.

With Hexnode, you can seamlessly transform your Android TV devices into digital signages. Administrators can manage and control multiple TV screens from any place, any time. It provides a quick, cost-effective solution for displaying digital signages with enhanced streaming controls. To set up your Android TV as digital signages,

  1. Navigate to Policies > Kiosk Lockdown > Android Kiosk Lockdown > Digital Signage Display.
  2. Add the required files, images, or videos to the policy. You can also play the media files in loops and add custom background music to them.
  3. After configuring the required parameters, associate the digital signage display policy with Android TV devices from Policy Targets.

Lockdown Android TV to single or multiple apps

The single-app mode lets businesses lock their Android TV devices down to a single application. Whereas the multi-app mode transforms the device to run one or more IT-approved apps, restricting access to all other apps and device functionalities. To configure a single-app/multi-app kiosk policy,

  1. Head on to Policies > Kiosk Lockdown > Android Kiosk Lockdown > Single App/ Multi App.
  2. Add the app(s) to be set up in kiosk mode.
  3. Next, associate the kiosk policy with the target devices and click Save.

Set up Android TV as website kiosks

Other than apps, you can also lock down Android TV devices to only the required set of websites. Web-based kiosks allow the opening of websites using Hexnode browsers such as Hexnode Browser Lite, Hexnode Kiosk Browser, or any other browsers.

Hexnode Browser Lite is a single tabbed browser that offers advanced settings to customize the overall website kiosk experience. It can be configured to run in the single-app kiosk or multi-app kiosk mode. Hexnode Kiosk Browser enables safe browsing by restricting access to only the websites approved by the organization.

An enterprise can also opt for any other browser other than the Hexnode browsers. In that case, the browser app needs to be installed on the device. The browser must be initially added to ‘Single App’, ‘Multi App’, or ‘Background Apps’ to list it in the ‘Another Browser’ field under ‘Website Kiosk Settings’. You can add the browser as a background app if you don’t want it to be shown in the foreground.

Hexnode also offers a plethora of configurations to customize and manage the website kiosk using the Hexnode Browser Lite or Hexnode Kiosk Browser. The configurations include toolbar, appearance, content, location, forms, and many other settings.

Run apps in the kiosk background

Certain situations may demand running some non-kiosk applications for the smooth operations of the apps added in the kiosk mode. The Background Apps feature lets you run such apps in the kiosk background without displaying its app icon. Follow the below instructions to set apps as background apps:

  1. Navigate to Policies. You can either set background apps within the same single-app/multi-app kiosk policy or create a new one. In the latter case, make sure to associate the single-app or multi-app kiosk policy with the device before applying the background app policy.
  2. Head on to Kiosk Lockdown > Android Kiosk Lockdown > Background Apps.
  3. Add the apps you need to run and hide in the kiosk background.
  4. Next, apply the policy to the target devices from Policy Targets and click Save.

Customize Kiosk Launcher

The Launcher settings let organizations customize the kiosk launcher on their Android devices and configure auto-launch settings for a particular kiosk app added to a single/multi-app kiosk mode.

Configure the auto-launch settings to set a kiosk app (or a file shortcut) as the default app in kiosk mode. Enterprises can ensure that this default kiosk app launches automatically and runs in the foreground as per the ‘App auto-launch delay’ period specified in the launcher settings. This setting will be beneficial to manually exit kiosk mode on single app mode-enabled devices as exiting kiosk mode on such devices is rather tedious. In this case, users can make use of the specified auto-launch delay period to return from the app to the kiosk home screen. Then, tap on the screen for the specified number of times (Android Kiosk Lockdown > Kiosk Exit settings > Number of taps to display popup to enter the exit passcode) in quick succession to initiate kiosk exit. Note that this feature is also available for multi-app kiosk mode.

The Customization settings offer a plethora of options to customize the kiosk launcher as per the needs of the enterprise. Here, administrators can set the icon size, logo, title, and so on. To configure the launcher settings on the MDM portal,

  1. Navigate to Policies > Kiosk Lockdown > Android Kiosk Lockdown > Launcher.
  2. Configure the auto-launch and customization settings and associate it with the Android TV devices from Policy Targets.
  3. Click Save.

Configure Peripheral settings

The Peripheral settings can be configured to attain granular controls over networks, display, location, apps, and more. These configurations will allow the users to have seamless access to some of the essential settings on the devices while the device is in kiosk mode. Here’s how to configure peripheral settings:

  1. Navigate to Policies > Kiosk Lockdown > Android Kiosk Lockdown > Peripheral Settings.
  2. Configure the required settings and apply the policy to the target devices from Policy Targets.
  3. Click Save.

Disable kiosk mode

Hexnode offers a set of options to exit kiosk mode on Android TV devices either from the MDM console or from the device itself. The methods to disable kiosk mode from the MDM console work only if the devices are connected to the internet. In case the devices are offline, users can resort to manual disenrollment methods. Hexnode also enables users to remove the kiosk mode manually even if the devices are offline.

Automate periodic synchronization

Periodically sync your Android TVs with Hexnode to force the Hexnode MDM app to check in with the devices. You can set the periodic sync behavior to either Background service or Foreground service. Running the periodic sync as a background service will not sync the devices with the MDM console if the battery saver or data saver modes are enabled on the devices. Also, if the devices are idle for a longer period of time, they may not respond to the Hexnode server. Consequently, any actions or policies pushed via MDM will not reach the devices. An admin can eliminate these difficulties by switching the sync behavior to foreground service.

Configure Wi-Fi connections

Remotely configure Wi-Fi or Android TVs to automatically connect to networks when they come in the vicinity of the networks. To set up a Wi-Fi connection on the Android TV,

  1. Navigate to Policies > Android > Networks > Wi-Fi on the MDM portal.
  2. Specify the SSID, password, or encryption type to establish a Wi-Fi connection on the devices without the users knowing its password. You can also push multiple Wi-Fi configurations within the same policy.

Deploy digital certificates

Streamline the process of adding digital certificates to Android TV remotely with Hexnode. It ensures that only the devices with the required certificates can access the corporate networks and resources. To configure a certificate policy,

  1. Head on to Policies > Android > Security > Certificates.
  2. Upload the certificate and input the required parameters. Once a certificate is uploaded to a policy, it is readily available for use in every other configuration within the same policy where you’re asked to select a certificate.

Set custom Android TV Wallpaper

Customize the screen of your Android TV by setting up a wallpaper remotely with Hexnode. To set up a wallpaper for Android TV devices,

  1. Navigate to Policies > Android > Configurations > Wallpaper.
  2. Upload the image you want to set as wallpaper and associate the policy with the target devices.

Enforce data management rules

Hexnode offers a comprehensive telecom and expense management solution to effortlessly manage data expenses on Android TV. Track Wi-Fi data usage, set data limits, and impose network restrictions to prevent data usage beyond the permissible limit. Monitor the device’s network usage by notifying the administrators and/or users via email. Also, set the date and time at which the data needs to be reset periodically. If needed, you can also enforce network and data usage restrictions on a per-app basis. The Data Management tab available on the device details page will present the data usage summary of individual devices.

Note:

  • Hexnode requires activating its VPN service on the devices to impose data usage restrictions. So, make sure to enable the prompts for VPN activation from Admin > General Settings > Data Restriction (Android).


To configure a data management policy,
  1. Navigate to Policies > Android > Network Data Usage Management.
  2. Set up data usage restrictions or app-wise restrictions and associate the data management policy with the target devices.

Unlock unlimited content management functionalities

Hexnode allows for seamless distribution, sharing, and collaboration of content across Android TV devices. It simplifies the process of sending corporate content and data without the fear of security breaches. Also, any content distributed via Hexnode can be removed remotely.

The Content tab in Hexnode acts as the warehouse for storing any content – documents, images, or even videos. In order to distribute files to the Android TV device, you’ve to first add the files to the Content tab. Start by following the steps below:

  1. Navigate to Content > My Files.
  2. Click Add and upload the file you need to distribute to Android TV devices. Next, fill in the required fields and click Save. The uploaded file will now be visible on the portal.

Files added to the Content repository can be distributed via the File Management policy.

  1. Navigate to Policies > Android > File Management.
  2. Specify the files added in the portal and the designated space on the Android TV where you want to distribute the file.
  3. Next, associate the file management policy with the target devices from Policy Targets.
  4. As the policy is associated, files get downloaded to the specified location on the Android TV device automatically.

Hexnode also allows adding file shortcuts (PDF/video) to the TV screen along with other kiosk apps. Thus, users that don’t have access to the file library can access the necessary files directly from the kiosk home screen. To do so,

  1. Navigate to Content > Kiosk File Shortcuts > Documents/Media.
  2. Click Add. Fill in the required fields and add the file.
  3. Click Create to add that file shortcut.
  4. Next, push the file via the File Management policy to the target device (skip this step if the file is already present on the device).
  5. Next, create a kiosk lockdown policy from Policies > Kiosk Lockdown > Android Kiosk Lockdown > Single App/Multi App.
  6. Add the file shortcuts to the policy along with the other kiosk apps.
  7. Associate the kiosk policy with the target devices and click Save.

The File Explorer tool in Hexnode allows to view files and folders available on the Android TV remotely. It offers basic file management capabilities to move, copy, or delete files or folders over the air. To access the File Explorer tab,

  • Navigate to Manage > choose the device > File Explorer > Open File Explorer > Actions to manage the files and folders on Android TV devices.

Monitor Android TVs with Dashboard and Reports

The Dashboard provides a quick overview of the Android TV devices and their activities. It includes the real-time status of devices, compliance breakdown, comprehensive activity feed, and so on. The Reports module provides a wide range of accurate reports to monitor and analyze Android TVs. You can also schedule reports to obtain periodic information on device events at specific intervals. The available reports include Device Reports, User Reports, Compliance Reports, Location Reports, Data Management Reports, Application Reports, and Audit Reports.