Friday, September 20, 2013

Apple releases iOS 7, iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S - Implications for the enterprise

On Thursday, September 18, Apple released iOS 7 a free, over the air update for most "newer" iOS devices.   Earlier today, Apple released two new phones - 5S and 5C.  Both the new OS and the two new phones have significant implications for the enterprise that go far beyond new colors and icons.

First, a bit of history.  The original iPhone, introduced in 2007, was aimed squarely at consumers with few enterprise capabilities.  However, driven by the consumerization of information technology trend, Apple introduced new and more powerful enterprise capabilities into both the hardware and the iOS. For example, Exchange ActiveSync support was added in 2.0.  The iPad, introduced in 2010, ran iOS 5.1 which by then had even more enterprise features including the ability to secure and manage the device and data.  However, even Apple could not have envisioned that the iPad would be the runaway success in both the consumer and enterprise marketplace.  Apple's iPad in Business website has some excellent case studies on how businesses are increasing revenue and reducing cost with the iPad.

iOS 7 is Apple's biggest operating system update to date. While the first thing users are likely to notice are the new brightly-colored app icons, the update is much more than skin deep. There are literally thousands of enhancements for both consumers and the enterprise.   Apple has published a list of the new enterprise features but I'll share a few of my favorites:

  • Application configuration.  Prior to iOS 7, users need to be provided with application configuration instructions (server, port, etc) for enterprise applications.  With iOS 7, application settings can be automatically configured with no user interaction.  This saves time, reduces errors and calls to the help desk. 
  • Install mobile applications silently in the background.  No longer is a user required to approve installation of enterprise applications.
  • Open in management.  Reduce the risk of data leakage by specifying with applications can be used to open documents, presentations and other files.
  • Streamlined Mobile Device Management (MDM) enrollment and new MDM controls.  These enhancements make it easier for end-users to connect to the corporate infrastructure and for the enterprise to control, manage and secure both the device and corporate data. 
  • Default encryption for all new installed applications.  iOS already supports the FIPS-140-2 certification which means it can be used by the the US government in addition to BlackBerry and Android mobile devices.  Enabling encryption by default reduces security risks. 

In terms of the new Apple smartphones, the big news is the iPhone 5S which includes a fingerprint sensor called Touch ID.  One of the biggest pain points for end-users is unlocking an iPhone or iPad that has been secured with a password on a regular interval.  Enterprises commonly enforce a device password as a way to secure enterprise data that is stored on a device.  Assuming that enterprises adopt the fingerprint sensor, it could be a big win with end users.  Other features include a new, more powerful, 64-bit processor, an improved camera and flash, productivity applications (Pages, Keynote, Numbers) and yes, new colors including grey, silver and gold.  Personally, I'm holding off on purchasing a new phone until IBM IT approves the new Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

As part of MobileFirst, IBM offers a wide range of services and software to assist clients deliver on the promise of becoming a mobile enterprise for Apple iOS devices, in addition to Google Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry as well as PCs.   For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact ibmmobile@us.ibm.com.

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