AT&T's Toggle BYOD Service Lets Users Shift Work Phone Use to a Separate Plan

AT&T's Toggle service for creating work-only sectors of Android phones is expanding to Apple iOS and will let workers put their work-related data usage on a separate account.

The carrier introduced Toggle 1.0 last year and offers it to organizations for use on phones from any mobile operator. Toggle divides a phone's software into two environments, one for business use and one with an employee's regular personal apps and content. It's designed to keep business resources encrypted and safe from disruption by consumer apps, plus to help users shift back and forth between work and personal modes.

With Toggle 2.0, announced on Wednesday, users will be able to bring their own phones and tablets into the office and go on a corporate account for all their use of the device while in its work mode, AT&T spokesman Fletcher Cook said. As soon as they switch back into personal mode, their own account will go back into effect. That feature is currently only available with AT&T accounts, but other carriers can implement it if they choose, Cook said.

Toggle 2.0 also allows IT administrators to set up a customized, branded location called a ToggleHub, where users can choose and download applications approved for them. The previous version required administrators to push applications to the users' devices, Cook said. Once an application is on the device, IT can disable it if necessary. If a device is lost or stolen or the employee leaves the company, all the data can be removed.

AT&T used one mobile device management partner, Enterproid, to develop Toggle 1.0, and a different partner, OpenPeak, for the 2.0 version. Both remain available.

"It's two different things. One allows us to do a little bit more," Cook said. AT&T will continue to offer Toggle 1.0 and support customers that are on it now, he said.

Security and complexity are two of the issues surrounding so-called BYOD (bring your own device) policies in workplaces. AT&T is trying to address both with Toggle. It's not the only company with a system for dividing users' phones into two personalities. VMware and Red Bend, for example, offer virtualization software for phones, and Enterproid continues to offer its own service similar to Toggle.

Toggle 2.0 should be available for iOS in the next few weeks. Versions for the BlackBerry and Windows Phone OSes are coming by the end of this year, Cook said. Toggle costs US$6.50 per device, per month, plus implementation fees and optional managed services.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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