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Android TV OS Management with MDM

Android TV brings the Android experience to television screens and now finds applications in almost all industries. In addition, a comparatively low price-point and ability to seamlessly manage them using a UEM solution like Hexnode has made it an attractive option as a communication tool in the enterprise market. There are two different variants of Android TV available in the market — Devices running Android TV OS & AOSP (Android Open-Source Project) -based Android TVs.

Android TV OS is a forked version of Android OS, developed and officially supported by Google. Android TV OS offers access to the Google Play Store and features like Google Cast Support and Google Assistant. The apps downloaded on Android TV OS devices via the Play Store are specifically optimized to work with Android TV OS. Whereas AOSP-based TVs run Google’s open-source Android OS, the same operating system used on mobile phones and tablets.

With Hexnode’s robust and easy-to-use MDM solution, administrators can enroll and manage both the variants of Android TV to its full potential. This article will guide you in managing the entire lifecycle of Android TV OS devices using Hexnode UEM.

Enrolling Android TV OS devices

You need to enroll your Android TV OS devices in the Hexnode UEM portal before you can start managing them. Make sure to configure the enrollment settings prior to the enrollment process.

Enrollment steps:

  1. Download the Hexnode UEM for Android TV app from the Play Store or get the APK file here.
  2. Open the app and enter the server name in the space provided. It will be of the format: yourportalname.hexnodemdm.com.
  3. Next, authenticate with the directory or local credentials if Enforce Authentication is enabled in the enrollment settings. If the authentication mode is set to No Authentication, follow the on-screen instructions shown in the app to complete the enrollment process.
Note:

  • Android TV OS devices do not support other Android-specific enrollments, including Zero-touch, Knox Mobile Enrollment (KME), or Android Enterprise (AE) enrollments.

Once the devices get successfully enrolled in the Hexnode portal, you can start managing them by configuring policies and executing remote actions. Read on to learn more about the various policies and actions supported by Android TV OS.

Remote Actions

Remote actions are one-time actions that can be executed on the devices enrolled in Hexnode UEM. Admins can perform the following actions on Android TV OS devices:

Remotely View Android TV screens

Pre-requisites:

  • Ensure to check ‘Enable Remote View’ from Admin > General Settings > Remote View & Control Settings.
  • Make sure that the Hexnode Remote View app is installed on the device.

Monitor the screen of your devices in real-time with Hexnode’s Remote View feature. You can also adjust the remote video quality and rotate screens at your convenience.

To enable remote view:

  1. Go to Manage > Devices and select your device.
  2. On the device details page, click Start Session under the Remote View panel to start the remote view session.

Real-time location tracking and Geofencing

An admin can enable periodic or instantaneous location tracking to know the whereabouts of their Android TV OS device. Additionally, the complete history of locations traversed by the device can also be fetched.

Hexnode offers multiple ways to view the location of devices from the portal:

  • 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 individual devices.
  • The Locations tab under Users/Device Groups/User Groups will also show the location details of the respective Users/Device Groups/User Groups.

Moreover, you can create virtual geographical fences with Hexnode’s geofencing feature. You can then apply configurations or restrictions for devices within or outside 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.

Restrictions

Android TV OS supports the configuration of only the following restrictions:

  • Wi-Fi
  • Force Wi-Fi

To configure restrictions for your device:

  1. Head on to Policies > Android > Restrictions.
  2. Configure the restrictions and associate the policy with the target devices from Policy Targets.
  3. Click Save.

App Management

Hexnode UEM helps manage the lifecycle of apps without any hassles. Android TV OS supports the distribution and removal of both store and enterprise apps.

To install applications on your device, you need to add them to the Hexnode app inventory initially. You can then distribute the apps to the target devices using any one of the following methods:

On distributing the apps, a prompt to initiate the installation process will appear on the device-end. You can also push apps via the App Catalog policy to create a customized app store on the devices. An end-user can then seamlessly download the required apps from the App Catalog in the Hexnode UEM app.

Administrators can also update the store and enterprise apps installed on the device and ensure that all the apps are up to date. Store apps installed via the Mandatory Apps policy are updated automatically.

You may also remove apps from your device through the Hexnode portal. On removing the apps, the users will be prompted to uninstall the application on the device-end.

Transform Android TV OS devices to digital kiosks

Android TV OS devices as digital signages

Digital signages are now more critical than ever in the post-pandemic world. From SMEs to large enterprises, businesses of all sizes now rely on digital signage displays to showcase content to different stakeholders.

You can effortlessly transform Android TV OS devices into digital signages using Hexnode UEM. You can configure several options when setting up your device as a digital signage; you can add custom background music to your audio/video files, trim videos, play media files in a loop and much more!

To set up your Android TV OS devices as digital signages:

  1. Navigate to Policies > Kiosk Lockdown > Android Kiosk Lockdown > Digital Signage Display and click on Configure.
  2. Add the required media files to be displayed. Configure other Audio/Display settings as needed.
  3. Go to Policy Targets and associate the policy with the required devices.
  4. Click Save.

Lockdown Android TV OS devices to single or multiple apps

Locking down devices in kiosk mode limits the device functionality only for dedicated purposes. Using Hexnode UEM, administrators can lock down Android TV OS devices in either single-app kiosk mode or multi-app kiosk mode. As the name implies, single-app kiosk mode restricts the Android TV to running only a single application. On the other hand, multi-app kiosk mode locks down the device to run more than one application.

To set up your Android TV OS device as a single-app/multi-app kiosk:

  1. Go to Policies > Kiosk Lockdown > Android Kiosk Lockdown > Single App/Multi App and click Configure.
  2. Add the required app(s) to be set up in kiosk mode.
  3. Associate the policy with the target devices.
  4. Click Save.
Note:

  • Android TV OS does not support Advanced View for multi-app kiosk mode.

Set up Android TV OS devices as website kiosks

It’s not just about the apps; you can also lock down your Android TV OS device to run only a required set of websites. The websites to be accessed can be added as Web Apps, which you can configure to run in either single-app or multi-app kiosk modes.

Hexnode UEM gives you the option to choose the web browser to open the websites on your devices. You can choose between Hexnode Browser Lite or any other third-party web browser of your choice.

With Hexnode Browser Lite, you can configure several settings to customize and manage the website kiosk. If you opt for third-party web browsers, you’d need to install the browser app on the device. The browser app can be added as a background app if you don’t want it to be shown in the foreground.

For detailed documentation, refer:

Run apps in the kiosk background

Situations may arise where you require additional non-kiosk apps to ensure the smooth operation of apps configured in the kiosk mode. The Background Apps feature allows you to run apps in the kiosk mode without showing their icon on the kiosk home screen.

To set up Background Apps on your Android TV OS device:

  1. Navigate to Policies > Kiosk Lockdown > Android Kiosk Lockdown > Background Apps.
  2. Add the required apps you need to run in the kiosk background.
  3. Associate the policy with the target devices.
  4. Click Save.
Note:

  • 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.

Customize Kiosk Launcher

Administrators can configure Launcher settings to customize the kiosk launcher on their Android TV OS device and/or auto-launch a particular app added in single/multi-app kiosk mode.

The Auto-Launch settings can be configured to run a kiosk app in the foreground as the default kiosk app. Usually, when devices are locked down in single app kiosk mode, the app automatically launches on entering the kiosk mode. However, setting the App auto-launch delay period in single app kiosk mode will enable a kiosk home screen with only the configured app. This will allow users to manually exit kiosk mode by returning to the home screen. Configuring auto-launch settings in multi-app kiosk mode will launch the default app automatically after the specified period and thus ensure that the device does not stay idle.

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 app icon size, font size, logo of the title bar, and much more.

To configure the launcher settings on your device:

  1. Navigate to Policies > Kiosk Lockdown > Android Kiosk Lockdown > Launcher.
  2. Configure the Auto-launch and/or Customization settings and associate the policy with the target devices from Policy Targets.
  3. Click Save.
Note:

  • Android TV OS does not support the option ‘Customize kiosk launcher’ in Launcher settings.

Configure Peripheral settings

Administrators can enable/disable Peripheral settings to gain granular control over the devices locked down in kiosk mode. Configuring the required peripheral settings allows users to access some basic device settings while in kiosk mode.
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.
  3. Click Save.

Disable kiosk mode

You can disable kiosk mode on your Android TV OS device either via the Hexnode portal or from the device end. To disable kiosk mode from the portal, the device must have a valid internet connection. However, manually exiting the kiosk from the device-end works even if the devices are offline.

Automate periodic synchronization

You can periodically sync your Android TV OS devices with the Hexnode portal to force the Hexnode UEM app to check in with the devices. The periodic sync behavior can be set as either Background service or Foreground service.

Running the periodic sync as a background service will not sync the devices with the UEM console if 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 Hexnode will not reach the devices.

You can overcome these difficulties by switching the sync behavior to Foreground service.

Configure Wi-Fi connections

Configure Wi-Fi on your Android TV OS devices to automatically connect to Wi-Fi networks.

To set up a Wi-Fi connection from the Hexnode portal:

  1. Navigate to Policies > Android > Networks > Wi-Fi
  2. Configure the required settings and associate the policy with the target devices from Policy Targets.
  3. Click Save.

Set data management rules

You can remotely track Wi-Fi data usage, set data limits, and impose Wi-Fi data usage restrictions on your Android TV OS device from the Hexnode portal. The users/admins can be notified via email whenever the network usage goes beyond the specified limit. If required, 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 the device.

To configure a data management policy:

  1. Navigate to Policies > Android > Network Data Usage Management.
  2. Set the required data usage restrictions/app-wise restrictions and associate the policy with the target devices.
  3. Click Save.

Content management functionalities

Hexnode UEM simplifies the process of securely distributing content to your managed Android TV OS device. To distribute content, you need to initially add the required files to the Content tab, which acts as the repository for storing any content – documents, images, or even videos. Files added to the Content tab can then be distributed via the File Management policy.

Follow the below steps to get started:

  1. Navigate to Content > My Files.
  2. Click Add and upload the required files to be distributed.
  3. Fill in the required fields on the modal window that appears and click Save.
  4. Next, go to Policies > Android > File Management.
  5. Enter the file name as added in the Content tab and the designated location on the device where you want to distribute the file.
  6. Associate the policy with the target devices from Policy Targets and click Save.

Once the policy is associated, the files get automatically downloaded to the specified location on the device.

You can also add file shortcuts of PDF or video files on your device screen along with other kiosk apps. This allows users that do not have access to the file library to access the necessary files directly from the kiosk home screen.

To add a file shortcut on your Android TV:

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

Hexnode allows you to remotely view the files and folders available on the enrolled Android TV OS devices with the help of File Explorer from the portal. In addition, it offers basic file management capabilities to move, copy, or delete files or folders over the air. To access the File Explorer tab, go to Manage > Choose the device > File Explorer > Open File Explorer > Actions and manage the files and folders on your enrolled devices.

Monitor Android TV OS devices with Dashboard and Reports

The Dashboard provides a quick overview of all your managed devices and their activities. It includes the real-time status of devices, compliance breakdown, comprehensive activity feed, and so on. In addition, you can make use of the Reports tab to fetch a wide range of reports to monitor and analyze all your devices. You can also schedule reports to obtain periodic information about various 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.

  • Managing Generic Android Devices