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WHAT ENTERPRISES NEED TO KNOW ABOUT iOS 8

09 Jul 2014

by Owen Williams

ios8

This year’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) was a boon for those hoping Apple would announce new features and opportunities, especially for developers and those in the enterprise.

THE BIGGEST iOS RELEASE SINCE THE LAUNCH OF THE APP STORE

In previewing a number of significant features companies can take advantage of in iOS 8, Apple proved it’s serious about the enterprise. Acknowledging that iOS devices are highly popular in the enterprise, Apple trumpeted that the “iPhone and iPad have become the devices of choice at work simply because they’re the devices of choice in daily life.” To back up this claim, SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi shared that 98% of Fortune 500 companies use iOS and that Apple is actively seeking to get the last 2%.

John Fremont, EVP at Chaotic Moon Studios, points out that several improvements will be huge for enterprises and allow for further iOS dominance in large companies. Fremont said Apple’s S/MIME message encryption is exciting, as is the expanded data protection around email, contacts, messages and other stored info. S/MIME support means that every single email message can be encrypted using iOS’ native mail application. This new level of data protection will allow enterprises to strengthen security and require passcode protection on a per-app basis for Apple’s native apps as well as third-party apps.

Fremont also highlighted mobile device management (MDM) controls that eliminate the need for a third-party MDM. The new MDM tools in iOS 8 are better for IT staff as they prevent users from removing settings or wiping devices. Theses tools will give technology managers far more control over the devices they manage than ever before. One of the biggest features is auto-enrollment, which allows staff to hand out iOS devices in their shrink-wrapped boxes and have them auto provisioned with security rules and corporate apps during the setup process.

EXTENSIONS EXTEND THE APP-WITHIN-AN-APP POSSIBILITIES

Ben Lamm, Chaotic Moon’s CEO, said he’s “most excited about the extensions they’ve made available, allowing various third-party apps to talk to each other.” Indeed, these extensions have been a long time coming and will finally let apps deeply integrate with iOS in ways that have only been possible on platforms like Android. These extensions will permit developers to build experiences right into the context of other applications as well as iOS itself. For example, you could edit a photo directly inside a document using VSCO Cam’s excellent array of filters.

Fremont is enthusiastic about this feature too, saying he believes it will be the biggest value-add for enterprises but will take longer to realize, as the internal ecosystems of apps on company devices will need to be similarly connected behind the scenes. Eventually, as these deep integrations mature and enterprises see the value, they’ll move to modernize systems and start building rich experiences in their own corporate applications. Over the next year or two, expect many enterprises to start taking advantage of these features to make it easier for end users to work.

As Apple stated during the keynote, consumers drove the popularity of iOS  in the enterprise and it’s clear that these same users will expect consumer-quality apps into the enterprise too. Lamm recommended that enterprises look into productivity apps and explore what cloud services they can store documents in, along with examining what opportunities exist to hook into consumer-grade experiences that employees are already using.

Lamm said that Chaotic Moon “has always helped bring our clients together, showing them the cross-over opportunities between their products, and now that’s going to be even easier for us to facilitate” thanks to extensions alone.

There’s a huge number of exciting features coming to the enterprise with iOS 8 this fall, so businesses should be looking to test them ahead of the release later this year. iOS 8 brings the largest opportunity for enterprise since iOS was released years ago; it’s just waiting to be taken advantage of.