For IT managers at organizations large and small, the new iPad comes with new IT management challenges along with the added features.
While the 2,048- by 1,536-pixel resolution Retina display was the most visible enhancement to the newest Apple iPad, the device's underlying iOS 5 operating system, optional iCloud service, and optional hotspot capabilities should be of more interest and strategic concern to IT managers.
Most mobile device management (MDM) vendors announced support for the new iPad and the latest version of Apple's iOS when the device was announced March 7. On March 12, Apple released the latest version of its Apple Configurator utility that uses simple workflows and basic policy profiles to configure up to 30 iPads from a single Mac.
Apple's iOS Configuration Profiles are how MDM tools control iPad accounts, policies and device restrictions. As such, controlling iPad access to the iCloud storage utility is limited to either allowing or disabling iCloud components, including backup, document sync and Photo Stream.
For the new iPad, which often shows up at work as part of a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiative, these policies will likely be a sore point. Tests at eWEEK Labs in Foster City, Calif., showed that this "on" or "off" approach is likely the most feasible way to control iCloud on the new iPad so that IT managers can ensure that sensitive corporate data isn't accidentally shuttled off to the cloud.
The new iPad with WiFi started shipping Friday, March 16, and costs $499 for the 16GB model, $599 for the 32GB model and $699 for 64GB model. The iPad with WiFi and 4G from either AT&T or Verizon costs $629 for the 16GB model, $729 for the 32GB model and $829 for the 64GB model. I tested the 64GB iPad with WiFi and 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) service from Verizon.
With the obvious exception of the Retina display, the new iPad looks almost exactly the same as the two previous generations of Apple's tablet. The biggest differences between the previous generation and the new iPad are inside the device. The new dual-core Apple A5X processor, the iSight 5 megapixel camera and the 4G hotspot capability (when using the optional Verizon cellular service) are all improvements that will entice personal and business users. In fact, all these changes enhance the iPad as a platform for business use. I was easily able to use the iPad as a hotspot throughout the Bay Area, even while crossing the San Mateo Bridge.