In the IT world, few events elicit as much intrigue as Apple’s worldwide developer conference (WWDC). Rarely does Apple release new hardware or consumer devices at these shows, so it doesn’t get quite the same love from the public at large that hardware announcements do. But, this is usually where Apple announces all the “under-the-hood” upgrades you will start to take advantage of in the near future. Big announcements do come from WWDC (like iOS 7 last year), but often go unheralded in the non-IT market. So, we’ve combed through the announcement to let you know what the WWDC can mean for your enterprise.
- Apple understands the increased role of enterprise data security and has answered the bell.
As we detailed in our most recent ebook, enterprise mobile data security is one of the most important factors that your IT department must contend with. There are more security threats out there than you might realize, and Apple has made some big moves to help your IT department combat those threats.
Apple is adding passcode protection for Calendar, Contacts, Mail, Messages, Notes, Reminders and third-party apps. It’s enabling per-message S/MIME as well.
- A theme you’ll see throughout this article: Apple wants a piece of the _________ market. First off, they’re going after mobile device management providers by baking in controls for enterprises. Directly from Apple’s website:
Data management and content filtering:
IT departments can control which apps can open documents downloaded from enterprise domains using Safari. They can also set up rules for controlling which apps can open documents from iCloud Drive. A new networking framework in iOS 8 makes it possible for third-party networking developers to create powerful content-filtering tools.
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More powerful device management capabilities:
New MDM tools help IT administrators see and do more with the iOS devices they manage. They can set the device name remotely and prevent users from adding their own restrictions or erasing their devices. New queries let administrators see the last time a device was backed up to iCloud so they know whether it’s safe to perform certain tasks. A new remote management UI makes enrolling and understanding the impact of MDM easier and more transparent for users. MDM also enables IT staff to help users authenticate to enterprise apps using certificate-based single sign-on.
- Apple wants a piece of the cloud services market. A big piece…
In addition to the iCloud backup service many consumers already use, Apple has released iCloud Drive, a cloud storage service aimed directly at Dropbox or Google Drive. Consumers and smaller businesses alike use this, and Apple wants a piece of the action.
Amazon has made huge inroads into the enterprise space with their AWS (Amazon Web Services) offering for enterprise-grade cloud storage and computing. Apple has countered with CloudKit, which provides a way for developers to access data and storage services on the back end for iOS application development and implementation. It’s not a direct analog to AWS, but it tips Apple’s hand a bit that they’re interested in that market too.
- Apple is targeting Microsoft, too… and Google… again.
Many enterprises rely on Microsoft Lync or Skype for messaging; others prefer Google chat or hangout. Apple has released an enhanced iMessage messaging app to go toe-to-toe with both companies’ offerings. It adds multi-person facetime, location sharing, photo and video sharing and self-destructing messages (like Snapchat on a slightly longer timeframe).
Apple wants to turn iMessage into a complete messaging platform, but until it interfaces with non-iDevices, there will still be a place for platform-agnostic communication apps like WhatsApp. These features blur the line a bit between consumer and enterprise, but if your company is an Apple shop, these new features could mean one less third-party app you use to communicate with one another.
- Apple wants to make you productive, too.
The final group of enterprise-centric developments coming in iOS 8 is in the productivity arena. Apple has remade Mail and Calendar, adding features like swipe-able read/unread messages, VIP threads and automatic reply messages when using Exchange (OOO comes to iOS, finally!). You can now see meeting availability in Calendar, and Apple has made it easier to create events on custom intervals and to designate between public/private meetings. Not earth-shattering by any stretch, but these do fix some pain points for enterprise users.
While WWDC might not be the sexiest Apple event, it can mean big changes for the way your enterprise operates. We hope our post has given you some perspective on what to be watching for when iOS 8 hits the market this fall.