The recent launch of Apple’s new iOS7 has many talking about how the new version of the operating system was the final death knell of Apple’s skeuomorphic roots, but beyond the style and sleekness of the upgrade, the enterprise should see the feature dense iOS7 as a major force in driving enterprises to mobile.
Security has and will continue to remain a major concern for the enterprise, but as Q2ebanking.com’s CSO Jay McLaughlin recently stated, the iPhone is by far the most secure device to try and integrate into the enterprise — as long as users aren’t jail-breaking the device.
“iOS 7 presents new vulnerabilities in the fact it contains new code, technology, and features,” McLaughlin told TechRadar.com. “Once discovered, you’ll see new exploits created – many of which would be used for jailbreaking purposes – which inherently breaks and destroys the strength of Apple’s underlying security model for iOS. […] Historically, Apple has tightened its security within iOS with each subsequent release, adding stronger encryption, Data Execution Prevention, ASLR, and the new A7 processor’s ‘Secure Enclave.’ As such, when in a non-jailbroken state, the iPhone is one of the most secure consumer devices.”
Here are eight features of Apple’s iOS7 that will change the business world for the better:
Stronger Security through TouchID & Activation Lock
One of the biggest drawbacks of extending the enterprise to mobile is the multitude of security threats to which mobile devices can expose an enterprise. TouchID made news when in less than a week a computer club in Germany demonstrated there are ways to bypass the TouchID system.
Even so, ComputerWorld’s Michael deAgonia writes that it is still a groundbreaking advancement for mobile.
“I’ve already decided [TouchID] will be a game-changer. In concert with new Activation Lock features in iOS 7 — GPS tracking can’t be deactivated and access to the iPhone is blocked without entering your iCloud username and password, even after a device wipe! — it’s hard to see this as anything but a major win for security.
The hoops someone would have to jump through to hack into the phone — lifting fingerprints, making a fake print using latex — are complicated, if they even work at all. For me, this doesn’t change its usefulness; it’s just a reminder that no security function is 100% foolproof.”
Weak passwords, disabled security locks, and misplaced devices are what keep security-minded companies up at night when thinking about extending mobile in the enterprise. While not perfect, fingerprint-based authentication in concert with the Activation Lock and device wipe capabilities can allow companies to quickly intervene in a potential security violation before sensitive data is compromised. Better to wipe a $200 smartphone quickly than expose a business to tens of thousands, or even millions of dollars to a potential data breach while would-be hacker fiddles with latex fingerprint molds.
Simplicity With Enterprise Single-Sign-On
For the busy folks on the front line delivering packages, checking manifests and entering patient data and all the while jumping between programs to do so, the repetitive authentication for each transaction can become a major deterrent in the use of the products, or at the very least the secure use of them. What if that worker could log into a CRM app and then jump into an order-tracking app without another sign-on? iOS 7 allows users to take their corporate credentials across apps, even including apps from the App Store. This reduces the need to remember and enter a number of different passwords while also keeping data secure.
Opening Up on Managed Open-In
Would you like an employee accidentally tweeting the Q4 forecast numbers? Probably not. Thanks to Managed Open-In, companies can force their employees to open email attachments in specific corporate-managed applications rather than an app of the user’s own choosing. So, even without a containerization solution to protect corporate data, enterprise information technology departments can keep business data in business-related applications on the mobile device. The business can then dictate to the user the open in options by app or user account, providing a lot of management flexibility.
Private Server Conversations With Per-App VPN
Per-App VPN allows information technology departments much more granularity in access to back-end systems. Only specific apps can gain access to a corporate network, so unmanaged or unapproved apps can never gain access to sensitive data within the enterprise. As well this restricts the ability to remove data from unapproved applications thanks to Managed Open-In. This feature greatly improves user experience and firewalls privacy so that non-business data is unable to touch the corporate network. One of the major benefits of business? Since this can quickly create barriers between SAP and Facebook, Per-app VPN makes Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) a much more realistic goal for the enterprise.
Mobile Device Management Software Made Simple
iOS7 includes a new MDM protocol to streamline third-party MDM solutions. For large businesses, the need to keep hundreds or thousands of users up to date with supported versions of software can be daunting without management software. Corporate-owned devices can be automatically enrolled in an MDM solution during activation, automating much of the custom commands, fonts, and wirelessly set-up managed apps.
Giving iWork Mobile to Get
Microsoft made a kingdom into an empire by licensing their end-user productivity tools. Now, just like Google Drive did, Apple is giving away iWork with Cloud capability in its latest release. This move won’t push blue chip companies to defect in droves from Microsoft’s enterprise licensing program, but for smaller businesses, this strategic investment on Apple’s part could help them justify the cost of equipping Apple devices while simultaneously extending on one set of productivity tools between laptop and mobile device.
Keep the “Property” in “Intellectual Property” Through App Store Volume Purchase Program
Enterprises can now buy apps and books for their iPhone and iPad-using employees and keep the to those apps or books to transfer them to other workers. For a handful of users, this might not seem like much, but those 99 cents start to add up quickly when it comes to thousands of users or expensive B2B apps or books or other such pricey materials. Previously, companies had to go through a painful process of buying redemption codes to hand out to employees to go out and download the apps on their own.
Micro location through Apple’s iBeacons
Apple’s iOS 7 supports low-cost transmitters that can work with an iPhone or iPad to collect location data, even if there’s no location system installed in a workplace or other environment. The system works over Bluetooth 4.0 and can be used to interact with an environment just by passing through it.
Major League Baseball has been a staunch supporter of the practical for Apple’s new tech for a few years now, and they have been off and running with how to use the iBeacon technology since last winter. So far, MLB has created an experience to populate a ballpark guides stadium specific information and which prompts users with different results based on where they are located, be it prompting the ticket bar-code at the entrance for the ticket-taker or popping up a coupon for a free soda once one smells the aroma of hot dogs.
“We’ve been looking at customizing the app based on where you are within the stadium, but GPS is notorious for not working indoors, especially when you are in a building made of steel,” MLB iOS developer Marc Abramson told Mashable. “Instead, we are incorporating Apple’s new Bluetooth and iBeacon technologies for iOS 7 and couldn’t be more excited about the potential.”
“Essentially, we want to create micro-locations within the stadiums where you can get different experiences,” Abramson said.
On the factory floor or in a busy transit center this sort of device/environment interplay could change the way the user interacts and experiences their environment.
These eight features are just a few of the many advances that Apple has made with their revolutionary iOS7 product. Beyond what we wrote about above, there’s plenty more worth mentioning: Multi-Tasking APIs, AirDrop and PDF annotations are but a few.
The advance of mobile technology inside the enterprise will lead to major innovations for businesses and with the introduction if iOS7 large organizations have even less reason to put off extending to mobile.
We wrote months ago that organizations who move quickly but cautiously will be the ones that reap the largest long-term benefit for their business. That said, Apple has addressed many of the major concerns for caution in the competitive marketplace with the introduction of technologies like Per-App VPN and ESSO. Extremely secure yet game-changing technology is now available to the enterprise and iOS7 has done enough that smart enterprises will use this security, locational and MDM advances to propel their business forward in the next year with the largest gain at a fractional risk.