Samsung Knox app puts the power of personal and business interfaces on one phone (hands-on)

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/ Updated: February 26, 2013 3:58 PM PST

Sarah Tew/CNET

BARCELONA, Spain--I use my phone for games, personal e-mail, social networks, texting, playing music, watching video, and the occasional phone call. It's also my main conduit for accessing work e-mail while traveling and I've even used it to post content to CNET.

Depending on whom you work for, however, you may not have this luxury. One solution for employers is to provide your employees with work-only phones. Another would be to embrace the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend and allow your employees to use their own devices for work, while at the same time ensuring the integrity of sensitive business information. Samsung has chosen the latter path.

The company's Knox app works in tandem with an IT administrator tool to give users seamless access to both personal and business content on one phone.

Once the appropriate software is installed, users will have access to two modes: personal and business. From the personal mode you'll use your phone normally, but when it's time to work you can immediately switch over to a password-protected business mode that can restrict access to social-networking services and personal e-mail.

At Samsung's demo station at Mobile World Congress, I found switching between the modes was as seamless as touted, but it seems there may have been some security bugs not yet hammered out.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Each time I switched to personal mode, I could then go right back into work mode with no password prompt. It was only after I waited for about a minute that it would again prompt me for credentials.

Thanks to a partnership with AirWatch, IT admins can customize Knox's work mode as they see fit, blacklisting sites like Facebook, Twitter, and pretty much anything.

The Airwatch administrator's interface. Eric Franklin/CNET

This is a great solution for those who'd prefer to use only one phone for both business and personal duties, but don't want to fret about the inherent risk of mixing the two. Samsung Knox is available now for Samsung phones.

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