Is Apple All Set to Own Enterprise Mobility With iOS 10?
At the recently concluded Apple’s WWDC, the iPhone7 was the object of everyone’s attention. During the conference, Apple also announced its first iOS double-digit release, the iOS 10. Even though not much time was spent discussing its fantastic capabilities, it seems clear that this major iOS update indicates that Apple is warming up to the enterprise. The business focus that iOS 10 demonstrates is hard to ignore with expanded EMM Enterprise Mobility Management) functionalities and greater device interoperability. Apple had made its enterprise intentions apparent last year by entering into a partnership with Cisco. With this partnership, enterprises can take advantage of the joint solutions that deliver an “experience that wouldn’t have been possible for either company to deliver alone”, according to Rowan Trollope, senior vice president, and general manager, Cisco. This year, with the iOS10 release, we can see how iOS devices will get IT capabilities and transform businesses through mobility. So what makes iOS 10 enterprise ready?
A mature and complete Enterprise Platform to develop fully vetted and integrated enterprise apps
With iOS 10, Apple has introduced a complete enterprise platform. This platform leverages their partner network to provide their clients with an ecosystem to enable business processes with enterprise mobility. Customers can now focus on meeting business objectives and spend less time worrying about backend management. The partnership with Cisco aims to ensure that mobile management is smarter, faster and easier for IT administrators, developers, and end users. Apple is also offering their enterprise customers a variety of integrated apps that meet their business requirements. This includes apps from leading vendors such as MobileIron, Cisco, IBM etc. who are a part of their Mobility Partner Program (MPP). With the help of the AppConfig Community, which is a collection of EMM (Enterprise Mobility Management) vendors and app developers, Apple enables developers to develop, configure, and secure mobile apps for the enterprise by employing the extensive app security and configuration frameworks available in the OS.
New developer features
The iOS 10 adds new features to the developer toolkit making it more enterprise efficient. The CallKit API with Cisco Spark allows VoIP developers to build apps that allow customers to use native iPhone apps to initiate VoIP calls. With this update, Apple demands that all apps submitted to the App Store by 2017 include ATS (App Transport Security) to prevent vulnerabilities and ensure secure and encrypted web connections. iOS 10 also introduces the Messages app store that allows developers to create apps with broader capabilities like powerful animations that can be used in iMessages.
Apps Open to Third-Party Developers
By opening up Siri to developers in iOS 10, Apple is looking to give users the benefit of an even better experience. Sirikit gives developers access to a variety of features as well as the full intelligence already built into Siri. Apple is opening up Siri as well as Maps to third-party developers so that they can bring out new features in these apps. Apple is also giving the Messages app to developers, thus making them compatible with more enterprise apps. Developers can download Sirikit from Apple, which provides an extension that communicates with Siri even if the app isn’t running.
With the iOS 9.3 update, Apple offered new ways to manage multiple devices. With the iOS 10, Apple enables these devices to work together harmoniously within the enterprise. Downloading new apps and data sharing across all Apple devices becomes much easier and this allows better continuity for users. Features such as Universal Clipboard allow users to move back and forth between Mac and iOS devices seamlessly without using solutions such as AirDrop. To prevent unintended data loss, Apple partners such as MobileIron are employing stricter copy/paste controls. The Auto Unlock feature allows users to unlock a Mac without typing a password, by using Apple Watch. Once the device is unlocked the Watch needs to stay in contact with the user’s skin to stay unlocked. If it loses skin contact then the device locks automatically and will then require the owners’ PIN. The user also has to be within three meters of the Mac to unlock it.
With iOS 10 Apple also takes care of the security of data in motion by supporting ‘VPN IKEv2 EAP-only’ mode. This makes VPN access to access corporate data, a critical component of enterprise mobility, secure.
With the iOS 10, Apple seems to be on the road to, what Gartner calls, “Unified Endpoint Management”. Now enterprise customers can make updates to any device running macOS Sierra using MDM. IT admins will also be allowed to implement policy restrictions to iCloud Keychain sync, iCloud photo library, Apple Music, Notes sharing, Find My Mac etc. by supporting new payloads to configure the IP firewall on Sierra. So we can expect EMM platforms to secure and manage most of the Apple devices, both desktop, and mobile leading the shift to desktop and mobile convergence.
With the iOS10, enterprises can expect to see workloads reduce to almost half since managing iPhones and other Apple devices can be done on the corporate network itself. This also helps in reducing network latency, employee downtime and increased helpdesk calls that stem from sluggish app performance due to network incompetencies.
Enterprises call for greater security and this is also an area of focus. Now wifi can be controlled (Enabled/disabled) through geo-fencing within MobiControl. Apple is also allowing supervised control over the apps installation and removal and control over system apps like – FaceTime, Siri, iTunes, iCloud, GameCenter, which will further enhance the enterprise user experience.
That apart, there have also been significant enhancements to security and performance improvements in areas like faster roaming, reduced web browsing failures and more reliable calls. It does appear that with the iOS 10, we are witnessing the evolution of the iOS into a mature enterprise-grade platform that offers more variety, ease of use and secure work-ready apps. With its new features and focus on integrating the new iOS into the partner ecosystem, it seems that Apple is looking to establish a beachhead within the enterprise. The world is watching with interest.