iOS 8 Features Designed With Enterprise Buyers, Users in Mind

NEWS ANALYSIS: Business users will benefit from an otherwise modest upgrade to Apple's mobile OS with new capabilities designed for them and enterprise administrators.

During the June 2 keynote at the Apple World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Apple Vice President Greg Joswick uttered the word rarely heard in public by an Apple executive: "enterprise."

Joswick wasn't talking about the nuclear aircraft carrier or the starship of television fame, but rather he was talking about large businesses. Apple, it seems, is finally recognizing that 98 percent of the Fortune 500 uses iOS in one form or another.

What this means for enterprise users is that Apple is now tailoring features on the iPhone and iPad specifically for business and IT users. Some of these features, such as the Device Enrollment Program, are designed to make integration of iOS devices easier on IT departments. Other features include enhancements to security and make it easier to manage iOS devices in an enterprise environment.

So when iOS 8 shows up in the fall of 2014, you can start using third-party document providers, such as your company's own servers in addition to iCloud as a place to store data. The Device Enrollment Program is designed to allow automatic provisioning of iOS devices so that the IT department won't have to set up each iOS device manually.

Instead, when the device is taken out of the shrink-wrap, all of the server, communications, enterprise management and specialized apps will be loaded and set up on the device automatically.

The new iOS will also support VIP Threads so that corporate messages can get precedence and can show up on the device lock screen, automatically. Email, contacts and calendars can be set to corporate standards, and Exchange provisioning can is set up automatically.

Apple is also changing how iOS apps integrate with the OS security model. For example, apps can now be configured to offer extensions outside their own sandbox with tightly controlled permissions. For example, a replacement keyboard can be installed into iOS that can either be kept isolated in the sandbox, or it can be given network access so that it can have dictionary access for word prediction.

Apple's own keyboard is getting better predictive typing that appears to work much like the similar capability in BlackBerry OS 10. In fact, Apple executives even pointed out that BlackBerry was the predecessor to their predictive typing, which was an unusual move for the company.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...