By Marc Arbesman
Businesses waiting to get their hands on Apple's new iOS 7 mobile operating system should not have to wait too much longer.
iOS 7 is now in beta testing and should be released to the general public in early fall.
Apple is already meeting with potential business customers to tout the system, its new design and what they say are all new features. Apple claims it is the most significant system update since the original iPhone.
From a business standpoint Apple is trying to stay a step ahead of the field and keep customers from jumping to other competitors.
One way they hope to protect their turf is through the use of new system apps. These offer more advanced ways for IT to oversee the deployment of devices within the organization, while delivering greater user experience for employees.
This will enable businesses to have greater control over which applications and accounts are used to open business-related documents and attachments. It will also help protect corporate data by keeping work documents limited to corporate applications.
Using iOS 7 companies will be able to better support their virtual private network. Enterprises can configure their apps to automatically connect to the VPN upon launch. Business data can be separated from personal browsing data over the corporate network. This should be of importance to bring-your-own device (BYOD) employees who work from home or remote locations.
A great enhancement for employees will be the authentication required for corporate applications. This can be done with just a single sign on. This will allow employee credentials to be used across all apps, even downloads to the App Store.
There is even a new App Store Volume Purchase Program allowing businesses to assign apps to users. Corporations will be able to maintain full ownership and control over these licenses.
To address the issue of content download speed iOS 7 has been designed to ramp things up. Catching Server 2 for OS X Mavericks Server will support iOS 7. The download and delivery of any content from the App Store, Mac App Store etc. promises to be quicker.
The new system addresses problems associated with management of dozens if not hundreds of mobile devices. A new MDM protocol streamlines third-party MDM solutions.
Company-owned devices can be enrolled automatically in an MDM solution where much of the custom commands, fonts and wirelessly set-up managed apps can be automated.
All third-party apps will also be improved with an enabled "data protection mode". Data stored in those apps will be protected with a user's passcode to create what Apple says provides a stronger and more unique encryption key.
Apple notes that its built-in mail application has been enhanced too. It will offer the availability to add and reorganize smart mailboxes within the mailbox list, thanks to a search that has been redesigned.
Users will have the ability to view PDF annotations and those with Microsoft Exchange 2010 will have the ability to sync with notes.
Additional improvements include a Notification Center with a new "Today" feature to give you a summary of your day including weather, traffic and meetings. There are new female and male voices to make Siri sound better with added assistant support for Twitter, Wikipedia and Bing. Night Mode in Maps that responds to ambient light when used in the dark will help with directions. And a re-designed Safari search app will let you see more content with a full-screen browsing mode.
Overall iOS 7 represents a nice step forward for businesses utilizing Apple applications. If it works as advertised, it will help protect corporate data and solve some of the problems associated with the BYOD workplace. Those who utilize Macs, iPads and iPhones at work will find iOS 7 a valuable upgrade to help improve their own business productivity.
Marc Arbesman is a founder and CIO of ThrottleNet, Inc. ThrottleNet offers an array of technology services and products to help business owners achieve their corporate goals, while reducing overhead. This is accomplished through outsourced Managed Network Services which helps companies improve their technology uptime and IT capabilities while, at the same time, reducing costs. The firm offers custom software development and mobile applications to help companies accelerate their business growth. For additional information contact ThrottleNet online at http://www.throttlenet.com or call 866-826-5966