Three ways iOS 9 is significant for the enterprise

iOS 9 features a number of enhancements that are sure to please enterprise IT professionals as well as new productivity capabilities that are likely to make users more productive on their iPhones and iPads.

Streamlined enterprise deployment

  • Apple has streamlined the iOS deployment process in a handful of significant ways in iOS 9. This impacts both the deployment and configuration of corporate liable devices as well as app deployment and management on both corporate liable and BYOD devices. These changes are significant for enterprise IT because they simplify and speed up the deployment as well as enhancing security.
  • Automated enrollment – Corporate owned devices can now be enrolled in an MDM server with no user interaction. These capabilities are enabled through Apple’s Device Enrollment Program (DEP) and the Apple Configurator 2 utility.
  • Optimized setup – For situations where a user will setup the device themselves, iOS 9 allows an MDM server to configure the built-in Setup Assistant to remove some of the setup panes (Apple Pay, Touch ID, Zoom, and the new Android Migration option) and to require that a user configure all panes rather than skipping some of them.
  • Device-based licensing – Previous versions of iOS tied app ownership to a user’s Apple ID. This can create confusion, particularly with company-owned devices and devices that are shared between users. iOS 9 allows organizations to assign apps to devices rather than users, greatly simplifying app license management.
  • Distribute apps and updates without the App Store – iOS 9 allows admins to silently install and update apps without the App Store being available on the device. Previously if the App Store was disabled, IT would need to temporarily re-enable it in order deploy or update apps and then disable it again, an approach that can be process intensive and could allow the user to access the full App Store while the install/update was taking place.
  • Convert unmanaged apps to managed apps – Apple’s managed app and managed account frameworks have traditionally applied to only apps deployed via EMM or installed through an enterprise app store. If a user had previously installed an app and needed access to a managed version of it, he or she would have to delete the original version and then reinstall the enterprise version. iOS 9 removed this step by allowing an EMM solution to convert an already installed app into a managed app, thus simplifying the process for the user and increasing the likelihood that users will use managed versions of business and productivity apps.

Advancing enterprise security

In addition to streamlining processes, iOS 9 also adds significant security features on top of the security enhancements inherent in the updated deployment processes.

Restricting AirDrop in managed apps and accounts – AirDrop provides a way for iOS and Mac users to shares files and content with each other simply by auto-detecting nearby devices. In iOS 9, IT can restrict the use of AirDrop within managed apps and managed email accounts to prevent corporate data from being passed to other devices using AirDrop.

Per-app VPN enhancements – The per-app VPN feature in iOS provides security and privacy by only routing the traffic of corporate apps through a VPN connection. In iOS 9, Apple has added support for UDP traffic, used by many real time and streaming apps, to its per-app VPN. Apple is also adding support for layer 3 per-app VPN connections.

Network usage rules – iOS 9 allows IT to create rules around network usage on corporate liable/supervised devices, such as preventing bandwidth-intensive apps from using a cellular network. This provides security as well as cost savings capabilities.

Trust UI – A new feature in iOS 9, known as trust UI, makes it easy for users on managed devices to know when they are installing an app from an authorized or unauthorized enterprise developer.

Enhanced productivity

In addition to features designed for IT, iOS 9 includes a range of productivity features for business users:

  • Attachment markup in Mail as well as name suggestions when composing a new email
  • Lookup of unknown phone numbers using the contents of a user’s mailbox
  • Predictive calendar suggestions
  • Revamped and improved Notes app
  • More contextualized Siri interactions

iPads and iOS 9’s new multitasking features

The iPad Air 2 and the new iPad Pro offer the greatest range of multitasking with the ability to view and work with two apps side-by-side in the new Split View feature. This feature is particularly effective on the iPad Pro. As noted during Apple’s event, the width of the iPad Pro’s screen matches the height of the iPad Air 2. This offers users the opportunity to easily work with content from two apps at once without needing to switch from one to the other.

A much larger range of iPads will be able to take advantage of iOS 9’s Slide Over feature that allows a secondary app to be viewed as a sidebar that takes up one third of the screen. This allows users to quickly complete tasks like reading or sending emails without leaving their current app. In addition to the iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro, this feature is available on the iPad Air, iPad mini 3, and iPad mini 2.

3D Touch for business

The new 3D Touch functionality of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus also offers productivity enhancements in a similar manner to the iPad multitasking features. The feature allows users to quickly dip in and out of content. Much like the iPad Slide Over feature, this can allow users to quickly view content or access app features without needing to open an app, email, photo, or other content. For business users, this means easily being able to peruse information without leaving their current task to do so.

Want to find out more about the enterprise enhancements in iOS 9? Check out the free white paper, What iOS 9 Means for the Enterprise.

Ryan Faas