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How to set up Android Enterprise with QR code enrollment

QR codes are a convenient tool for Android Enterprise enrollment, but this method has some drawbacks. Discover the factors organizations should consider with QR code enrollment.

If IT understands the details of Android Enterprise device setup, QR code enrollment can provide simplicity and flexibility.

With Android Enterprise, organizations can configure and manage mobile devices for remote and hybrid users, making it easier for IT to ensure security and functionality. Device enrollment is the first step in implementing the program. IT administrators can enroll devices in Android Enterprise through any of the following methods:

  • QR code.
  • Zero touch.
  • Enterprise mobility management (EMM) token.
  • Near-field communication (NFC) tag.
  • Managed Google account.
  • EMM management app.

QR code enrollment is an especially prevalent method among organizations. It's user-friendly due to the convenience and ubiquity of QR codes, and many platforms show it as the default enrollment option.

To determine whether this enrollment method is the right fit, admins should understand how it works. While QR code enrollment is simple on a broad level, it does require IT to make some more complicated Android management decisions. Android Enterprise provides different device setup options, and the process can vary depending on the organization's EMM provider.

Considerations and prerequisites for Android Enterprise QR code enrollment

When enrolling devices in Android Enterprise, admins can look to QR code enrollment for a straightforward, accessible setup method. It supports full device management, dedicated device management and work profiles on corporate-owned devices running Android 8.0 or later. As long as a device meets the following criteria, it can enroll in Android Enterprise via QR code:

IT admins or users must physically access the Android device to scan the QR code, so it's not ideal for large-scale deployments.

This method is similar to NFC enrollment because both use a kind of token that IT can simply tap or scan to begin the process. Both are also easy to distribute to end users, which enables user-driven enrollment, and neither one requires a managed Google account. This makes both QR code and NFC enrollment viable for kiosks and other single-use devices that typically don't need to have an associated Google identity.

But QR code enrollment is a more flexible option in a few ways. First, not all devices have NFC capability. QR code readers, on the other hand, are a built-in feature on modern smartphones. Even devices that don't have a QR code reader can download one, provided that they have a camera. NFC enrollment is also only available for fully managed devices.

However, unlike zero-touch, managed Google account and EMM app enrollment, QR code enrollment is not available for personally owned devices. As a result, this method is not suitable for BYOD scenarios. Additionally, it involves a more manual setup process than some other methods. IT admins or users must physically access the Android device to scan the QR code, so it's not ideal for large-scale deployments.

Variations in the QR code enrollment process

The process to enroll devices via QR code varies slightly based on the EMM platform. With Microsoft Intune, admins must first create an enrollment profile in the admin center portal. They should create different enrollment profiles for different management sets. When it's time to enroll a device, the profile will provide the QR code for enrollment. Other EMM platforms provide a similar process, but they might use some different terminology.

With Hexnode MDM, for example, admins can initiate QR code enrollment in either device owner mode -- for fully managed devices -- or work profile on company-owned device (WP-C) mode. The process is nearly the same in either mode, but IT must scan an additional QR code and enable management controls during device owner enrollment. WP-C mode automatically creates a work account during enrollment.

Before getting started with QR code enrollment, admins must assess the information in their organization's EMM console to confirm that it's an appropriate option for their provisioning plan. Evaluate the management options that the platform provides and consider other decisions that might come up during the enrollment process. Working out details -- such as device permissions and number of users -- ahead of time helps ensure an easy setup.

4 steps to enroll devices in Android Enterprise with a QR code

Regardless of the EMM provider, IT admins should go into the management console to ensure enrollment profile details are correct, and review the instructions for QR code generation and enrollment. Next, generate and save a QR code for the appropriate management set in the console. This process can include inputting enrollment data and configuring QR code settings, such as encryption, Wi-Fi and system applications.

After QR code creation, device enrollment generally involves the same four steps across all platforms. Admins should carry out the following process:

  1. Turn on the new or factory-reset device.
  2. To launch the device's QR code reader, tap the Welcome screen six times. If a device does not yet have a QR code reader, a prompt to connect to a Wi-Fi network and install the reader will appear. This is usually necessary for older devices.
  3. Scan the QR code available in the organization's EMM console.
  4. Follow the onscreen instructions to complete enrollment.

Katie Fenton is associate site editor for TechTarget's Mobile Computing, Enterprise Desktop and Virtual Desktop sites.

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