In less than a week, Apple will be making some exciting announcements about their latest wave of products, likely to include the iPhone 6 and, possibly, the much-anticipated iWatch. These products are obviously enticing in their own right, but Apple will be making another big splash with the release of its newest operating system, iOS 8. On the enterprise front, iOS 8 promises a heap of impressive new capabilities. From stronger security to new productivity features, to peer-to-peer AirPlay discovery, iOS 8 will provide enterprises with a new set of tools that will certainly impact how they do business. Let’s take a look at some of these new features and find out what iOS 8 holds in store for the enterprise. (Hint: A lot.)
More Productivity and Organization
For starters, get ready for more features that boost on-the-go productivity and organization. Apple has beefed up the features and enhancements to its standard productivity tools, Calendar and Email. For example, “out of office” can now be set up on the iPad, and meeting request responses can be seen in the Calendar app. Although seemingly simple, these changes better equip employees to complete work and manage meetings and deliverables on the move. Users will also have the ability to mark email threads as “VIP” to track conversations; mark messages as read, unread, or flagged (with a simple left or right swipe); mark calendar events as private; and email meeting attendees from Calendar if employees happen to be running late.
On top of that, Apple is overhauling its keyboard (the first change since its introduction in 2007). The new keyboard, QuickType, is more intuitive and is stronger in predictive text selections and auto-correcting. It can also integrate with other third-party keyboards.
With iOS 8, Apple is providing expanded enterprise data protection and adding a number of new-and-improved security features. Now, calendar, contacts, reminders, notes, message apps and user credentials are protected with a passcode until the device is unlocked.
There will be a variety of new tools for IT departments that are using Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions, new ways to push documents and apps to users, and new settings to revoke access. These tools and features include the ability to restrict the opening of documents that are downloaded from the enterprise domain, the ability to switch between enterprise apps without having to reenter passwords (thanks to certificate support for single sign-on), and the ability to automatically push iBooks, ePubs and PDF documents to user devices. Additionally, with always-on VPN, users will automatically be connected to a company’s VPN.
More Communication and Collaboration
Other new features aim to make communication and collaboration easier and more efficient. Apple will introduce iCloud Drive, which makes sharing work files across all devices seamless. Files can be saved, retrieved and edited from any OS X, Windows 7 or iOS 8 device, so you can pick up work right where you left off, whether you are sitting at your desk or on a train. All iCloud Drive documentation can be saved as files or folders in a tool called Handoff.
AirDrop will be revamped, and it will now enable wifi and Bluetooth-based file transfers when email or texting is unavailable. AirDrop has no file size limit, so you can say goodbye to bounced emails due to oversized files. As an added bonus, you no longer need an internet connection to transfer files from a Mac to iOS.
Finally, AppleTV's peer-to-peer capabilities will make it easier to use AppleTV for any on-the-go meeting or demo. You can happily retire the days of agonizingly setting up AppleTV with complex security intranets. Now users can AirPlay advanced data visualizations and interactive graphs directly onto the big screen on a peer-to-peer connection from any iOS 8 device to AppleTV (no need for wifi connection).
More Development and Potential Screen Real Estate
iOS 8 is a developer’s playground. With expanded, innovative development capabilities, Apple has called iOS 8 its biggest OS release for developers to date. In addition to releasing a new programming language called Swift, Apple is introducing a new SDK which includes a whopping 4,000 API kits that enterprise developers can leverage. Among these APIs is the Touch ID API which will allow third-party developers to integrate touch ID within their apps, which furthers Apple’s goal of ultimately replacing security passwords with biometric controls.
Along with the release of iOS 8, strong rumors indicate the iPhone 6 will be released in a variety of sizes. The present iPhone 5S is a 4” device, and the iPhone 6 is likely to be available in both 4.4” and 5” form factors. Larger devices provide app developers with more screen real estate to display content and interactivity capabilities like transactional inputs and selectors alongside data.
iOS 8 offers a variety of features and enhancements to make the enterprise more productive, organized, secure, collaborative and communicative. Get excited!
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