iOS 9.3 to Give Enterprises More Control Over Employees' Devices

Additional mobile device management features will let companies enforce homescreen layouts, app usage and more.

iOS 9.3, Apple, developers, operating system, mobile device management, smartphones, tablets, Apple CarPlay, Night Shift

Apple's upcoming iOS 9.3 mobile operating system will provide enterprises with more control over mobile devices issued to employees, including the ability to control home screen layouts, to blacklist or whitelist apps, and to maintain notification settings.

The new mobile device management (MDM) features were uncovered in Apple's latest Configuration Profile Reference materials for developers, according to a March 1 Twitter post by iOS developer Steven Troughton-Smith.

The changes will allow enterprises to "lock the layout of a device's home screen—and exert more control over apps in general," according to a March 1 story by Apple Insider. "With the option in force, apps can't be rearranged, for example allowing a company to ensure that apps it wants workers to use can't be moved into a folder or a different page."

Apple's iOS 9.3 is still a beta release and could contain additional features and changes when it is eventually released.

A March 1 story by iClarified said the enterprise changes will also include a new restriction payload key that will let enterprises disable iTunes Radio on company devices.

In a preview of iOS 9.3 in January, Apple announced major enhancements for education users, updates to Apple CarPlay, improved security features for Notes, more personalized News updates, more health apps and more, according to an earlier eWEEK story.

A Night Shift capability automatically changes a device's bright blue display light into warmer colors at night to make it easier on a user's eyes, while also minimizing disruptions to their sleep due to the blue light.

CarPlay in iOS 9.3 gets "New" and "For You" recommendations from Apple Music, which introduces users to songs, artists and albums handpicked by experts, plus selections based on a user's preferences, right on the screen of their devices. A new Nearby feature in Maps helps users find gas, parking, restaurants, coffee and more when needed.

The Notes app in iOS 9.3 is getting several security enhancements, including the ability to secure your notes with a password or fingerprint to protect your most sensitive personal data such as financial details, medical information and Website log-ins.

In addition, the News app in iOS 9.3 can now be customized more easily to a user's preferences through the creation of a new Favorites list, as well as suggested trending topics and suggested Editors' Picks. Also new is a capability to play a video right from the feed, as well as the ability to view the news in landscape mode on an iPhone.

For education users, one of the key changes in iOS 9.3 is the inclusion of new features and apps that provide more engaging ways of learning and easier deployment of devices to students who need them, according to Apple. The changes mean that a student can log in to any iPad in any classroom and make it his or her own, while teachers will have access to a new classroom app that will make it easier for them to guide students through a lesson, see their progress and keep them on track.

School administrators will get an Apple School manager portal where they can do everything from create Apple IDs to purchase apps to prepare devices for mobile device management and more. New managed Apple IDs will make it easier for schools to manage their Apple IDs for their users.

iOS 9.3 also includes new iPad sharing capabilities that make it easier for multiple students to use the same iPad while keeping their own settings, preferences and content, according to Apple. With Shared iPad, students can log in to any iPad and their content is ready to go. The devices will use intelligent caching so that when students log in they don't have to wait for everything to download—it's already there, according to Apple.

Also new is a Photo ID feature that makes it easier for multiple users to find the iPad they had used previously by spotting their photograph on the device.