WWDC Looking for the Enterprise ‘Easter Eggs’

Image: Courtesy of WWDC 2017

Apple has been very clear about its agenda to grow enterprise-related business. But when it comes to WWDC, enterprise-focused topics are not necessarily obvious in the main stage keynotes. In order to commit to a platform, enterprise app developers need a compelling device and software story and this year’s event did not disappoint. There were several enterprise ‘Easter Eggs’ among the key announcements at the “Biggest and best WWDC ever.” The new products and technologies announced at WWDC will help any size company leverage Apple devices to improve productivity and transform their business.

The big wins for enterprise can be categorized into four areas:

Compelling devices: iPad designed for Business

Together with iPhone, iPad has been Apple’s beachhead for business transformation, making iOS the dominant mobile platform in the enterprise. Apple announced a new 10.5 inch iPad Pro, and included many other enhancements: brighter and sharper display, 30% faster CPU and 40% faster GPU; 12 megapixel camera and 4K video. This device is designed to be powerful enough to be a viable laptop replacement.

And what’s under the hood is equally important. For the first time, iOS 11 has special features dedicated to the iPad. The focus is on an enhanced multitasking user experience and improved productivity. For example, the new customizable Dock on iPad provides easy access to frequently used apps and documents. Dock on iPad can be accessed at any time and within any app by swiping upwards. More importantly, the new App Switcher places all active apps on the screen, making it really easy to switch between them.

Another important multitasking feature is the system-wide drag and drop capability. Users can now drag and drop images, text, links, and other objects from one app to another. This feature is even easier to use when running apps side-by-side in the split screen mode. Furthermore, this feature is even more friendly than the drag and drop available on a PC platform as it supports complex multi-touch and multi-finger and second hand gestures. These enhanced capabilities dramatically improve usability and productivity and will drive adoption of many new business use cases.

Software platform enhancements: Building faster and smarter business apps

While improvements were announced for all Apple OS platforms, WWDC discussions reinforced macOS as the lead platform to inform design and structure for the other members of the Apple OS family: iOS, tvOS, and watchOS. Tim Cook referred to it as, “The heart and soul of Apple.”

macOS 10.13 High Sierra features many improvements. Those of particular interest for business include refinements to Safari. Auto-play blocking and intelligent tracking prevention will make Safari faster and more energy-efficient than any other browser. macOS 10.13 will use the new APFS file system, enabling enhanced data protection at rest, faster boot times, and significantly improved storage efficiency.

Augmented Reality (AR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning (ML) are hot topics rapidly finding their way to many business applications. Apple announced CoreML, a new API offering on-device machine learning capabilities designed to assist apps to predict, learn, and grow smarter over time. Apple is also going to publish an ARKit SDK which helps developers to create sophisticated AR applications. The whiteboarding is underway and one can expect these AR and ML technologies will make their way into compelling new enterprise and business applications.

Of interest in watchOS 4 is support for Dexcom glucose sensor integration, designed to drive use case adoption in the healthcare vertical, as well as professional gym equipment integration via a new GymKit that will redefine how well an accessory can bridge personal fitness and usable health metrics.

Improved user experience to accelerate business user adoption

New functionality in iOS 11 intended for use in consumer apps will also have impact on business use. Apple added peer-to-peer payment options to Apple Pay; now money can be sent using iMessage or Siri taking advantage of credit cards stored in Wallet.

Apple also redesigned the Control Center for iOS into a single screen and making it customizable. This creates opportunities for businesses to customize it and tailor both the Control Center and the Lock Screen to business needs.

Apple introduced a new system app called Files. The new Files app on iPhone and iPad allows users to access all files from a single place. Files has access to files stored locally, in iCloud, or other services such as Google Drive or Dropbox.

On iOS, screen recording has been made easy with Screen Recording, now available on iOS natively. Users no longer need to rely on third-party software to capture iOS devices’ screen. One of the use cases will be the ability to improve help-desks troubleshoot end-user issues and deliver solutions quickly.

Corporate app developers can optimize these enhancements for both in-house and external customer-facing experiences; IT teams will have to consider how corporate and personal information will remain separated, secure, and private as more of this functionality is adopted on mixed-use devices.

Continued improvements in security and management

Like other iOS, macOS, and tvOS releases, Apple continues to make improvements in security and management. New features were announced which will provide more restrictions and more configuration options for AirPrint, VPN, and TLS configurations. MDM solutions will utilize these new features to expand Apple platforms’ security and management in the enterprise.

Getting ready for iOS 11 and macOS 10.13

With over 14,000 enterprise customers using iOS, and in a growing number of instances, macOS, MobileIron is committed to helping our customers transform their business based on Apple devices and software. We’re hard at work preparing for Day Zero support.

Enterprise teams interested in leveraging the technologies announced at WWDC should:

  • Participate in the Apple Beta Programs
  • Provide feedback to Apple and EMM vendors, including MobileIron, on any MDM-related bugs or concerns
  • Prepare Day Zero readiness launch guidance for IT and end users

Kevin Hsu


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