Apple unveils iOS 7 business features

Apple unveils iOS 7 business features

Summary: The iPhone and iPad maker lifts the lid on what businesses and enterprise users can expect in its latest iOS 7 offering.

TOPICS: Apple, iOS, iPhone, iPad
iOS 7 in action (Image: Apple)

Ahead of the iOS 7 launch later this year, likely in line with a new iPhone release, Apple is touting a bevy of new software features designed with business users in mind.

It's not just about the back-end mobile management features, and Apple knows it. The functionality to the end-user also counts. iOS 7 now includes a range of user experience enhancements as the technology giant continues to compete with already-established and well-developed rival platforms and vie for the hearts of enterprise users.

In recent years, enterprise and business users are increasingly picking up Apple products, despite the company focusing more on the consumer market. And now for the first time, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) users are also recognized, keeping Apple up-to-date with the current business trends. 

Here's a quick run down:

Managed open in: iOS 7's bid to protect corporate data will control which apps and accounts open certain documents and attachments. IT policies can set the configuration list, forcing corporate data to be opened in corporate apps.

Per app VPN: Apps requiring virtual private networking (VPN) functionality to run when they start up. Granular controls allow for business data to flow over corporate networking pipes, while personal browsing data does not. This will especially be of interest to bring-your-own-device (BYOD) employees who work from home or remote locations.

New mobile device management (MDM) configuration: One for IT administrators. A new MDM protocol is included with iOS 7 in order to streamline third-party MDM solutions. Corporate-owned devices can be automatically enrolled in an MDM solution during activation, automating much of the custom commands, fonts and wirelessly set-up managed apps.

Improved Mail: Finally, PDF support in the email application, as well as support for Exchange 2010. 

Enterprise single sign-on (SSO): Authenticating will be far easier in iOS 7, allowing users to take their corporate credentials across apps, including apps from the App Store. It reduces the need to remember a bunch of passwords, but also keeps data secure by cutting out the password manager middle-man.

Third-party app data protection: All third-party apps will now have a "data protection mode" enabled, so data stored in those apps are protected with a user's passcode — which a strong and unique encryption key is generated from — until their device is unlocked after each reboot.

It's clear that while businesses picked Apple, the technology giant is now embracing its enterprise following. By offering these server-side and front-facing changes, it broadens the audience Apple actively targets.

While some argue that consumers are suffering from "iPhone fatigue," the business market runs at a slower pace. With Samsung and BlackBerry offering two mobile device management services (Knox and BES respectively), Apple is trying to keep ahead of the game by working with its already established base of users, with the aim of keeping them from defecting to a rival platform.

Topics: Apple, iOS, iPhone, iPad

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  • nice features

    Per app VPN: is cool
  • Colorful...starting it's metro creep. And welcome BING!

    Looks like Apple has decided a more colorful screen is in order, it's like a mini-metro interface w/o the live tiles. And you still have to page and page and page to find stuff.
    On the bright side, Bing is going to be the default search engine so you won't have to worry about paid for results that have nothing to do with your search criteria. That is a big win for Apple users.
    • It doesn't look anything like Metro

      I can never figure out why people say that.

      iOS7 looks like someone ran the "Jony Ive Redesigns Things" meme on iOS6. But I guess that's the point.

      As for Bing, I don't want it powering Siri. Bing just doesn't produce results in the way I want to - I'm so used to Google's heuristics I guess.
      • Have you tried Siri?

        It's one step above worthless. The responses only match when the question is something very obvious and after that they make no sense and "she" usually just asks if you want her to search the web for that. The voice and the results simply get annoying and frustrating until you don't use it any longer.
        My son gets his kicks out of it from asking silly questions.
    • Nothing like "Metro" in appearance

      Most of the icons are simply "flattened", two-dimensional versions of the former more 'realistic' versions (such as Safari's compass, for example). The colors are almost identical to their older versions but with less of the "aqua" look that made them appear three dimensional through fake reflections and other artistic points. They're still nowhere near the blocks of color that exemplify the Modern interface.

      Where Bing is concerned, it is better than Google in many ways; at least one of which is that a product's home page is far more likely to be the top hit rather than a 'productsales dot com' link. Bing has its own problems, I'll admit; but that's not one of them.
      • Well I'm looking at iOS 6 right now on a 4th gen itouch....

        and the colors are far more muted than are shown in the blog.
        For example the "Music" icon is a darkened orange color and not anything close to a very bright red.
        Each icon is similarly less colorful to varying degrees. did the itouch get different colors than the iphone?
        It looks much more colorful to me. Apple has a history of using other's ideas, starting with Xerox.
    • The colorful UI of iOS7

      was the subject of another article. There you could make fun of the Metro likeness. I think this one is about the business features. The acid-trip colors, the god-awful icon design and the Metro appearance were the trend topic of the week before last. I'm waiting to see a nice critique of those business features. Oh wait! There's one at the end of comments!
      Aristarco Palacios
      • A square or rectangle or Red or Blue is "God Awful"? Don't tell that to...

        Apple. They might get paranoid over their rectangular shaped iPad.
  • iPhones

    Are the Tinker Toys of Fisher Price Play Skool phones.
    • toys

      ((( "iPhones are the Tinker Toys of Fisher Price Play Skool phones." )))

      Your weird mixed metaphor makes it difficult to determine if you're complimenting the iPhone or attempting to slam it. For the record, Tinkertoys is a National Toy Hall of Fame inductee that is lauded for exercising creativity and the imagination. Further, Tinkertoys is owned by Hasbro, a subsidiary of Mattel, and has no relationship to Fisher-Price.
      • Well done Sir.

      • Has no relationship? which one quit making toys?

        relationships are not only financial. They are related because they are both toy makers and I would say that makes for a huge relation between the two.
        Now add in Apple and it's a threesome!
      • Calling the iPhone a toy is not complimentary, and you missed the point

        being made by his comments.

        The point is not about which company is a subsidiary or which is the parent. That is totally immaterial. The totality of his comment was about how iPHones are like Tinker Toys. He could've said Playschool toys, and the point would've been the same.

        But, congratulations on the trivia knowledge.
        • Technically he could not have just said the one.....

          Not to be nit picky, but since the names of these toy makers are central to your point, there is no "playschool" that I know of. The OP knew it is Playskool and if you read his post again, he was saying the iphone is the tinker toy *of* playskool. In other words, he is saying it's the most toy like of toy phones. Get it? Yes it was probably overkill to use that level of description to say the iphone is a toy, but the point is you had it wrong.
          Yes, it's not complimentary to call it a toy, but seeing what is posted about other phones and tablets constanly on zdnet I assumed that is the point of these blogs? Am I wrong and it's not who can put down the technology they don't use or like the most?
          There is one that seems to get this kind of treatment regularly...a surface or version 8 something? I'm not sure of the maker but it seems they get ripped regularly.l
    • Tinker Toy?

      Anything but! Have you ever tried to tinker with this (iPhone) toy? Tinker, right... with those special pentalobe nano screws, it's more taylor, soldier, spy, than tinker toy.
      Aristarco Palacios
  • < Yawn >

    Somebody hold my eyes open for me.
  • exceptions as features

    what Apple is doing here is building exceptions to iOS rules as features.
    Android does the opposite, allows anything and requires restrictions to manage the device.
    iOS trying to be more like Android.
  • Not a huge leap in the defence against BYOD

    BYOD devices pose very serious threats to it security in the corporate world and with the (mostly) demise of Blackberry, it's worsened. It's good to see Apple making moves in this area at last but it's got a lot of catching up to do if it wants to compete with Knox.

    Apple needs to get serious about corporate users (or just stick to home users). There needs to be a way of operating the iphone effectively without having iTunes installed on corporate devices - certainly that app is about to be blocked where I work.
  • I've notice how they haven't mentioned price of hardware.

    And that's always a bad sign. Yes, Apple offers "cheaper hardware" by dropping prices on their older hardware, but that's called a "CLEARANCE", which, is not the same as making affordable hardware and software.
    Richard Estes
  • These iOS "features" are just afterthoughts, and "retrofitting" iOS with

    features that should have been available from the start, is proof that Apple is not and should not be taken seriously for the enterprise.