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10 iOS 7 features that could make enterprises smile

Matt Hamblen | June 14, 2013
Apple downplays enterprise capabilities early on, though expert finds several promising enterprise tools in updated iPhone OS

Schwan's views , and some additional ones (and criticisms) from industry analysts, are incorporated in 10 new enterprise-focused iOS 7 features below:

1. Enterprise single sign-on.
Users can log in once and be authenticated across all of an enterprise's apps and services. Today, users must log-in separately for each app. Many third party mobile management software systems already allow this capability, but Schwan said it will help developers and be more convenient for users to have single sign-on capabilities within iOS.

"We're still digging into it, but if I could log on in one app, such as CRM, with iOS 7, then I could jump to an order tracking app without another sign on," Schwan said. "Right now it's very difficult to support single sign-on between those apps."

Apple's single sign on feature is "all driving toward 'mobile first' for enterprise," Schwan added.

The downside to single sign-on is the risk that the theft of a password or other user credential could give thieves access to all kinds of apps, not just one, said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates.

"Single sign on also means Apple controls the credential, not the app provider," Gold added. "Do I as app provider want Apple to monitor every time someone signs into my app? That's shades of Big Brother."

2. Activation lock.
With this new feature, a lost or stolen iPhone can't be reactivated without the owner's iCloud user name and password.

In the Bring Your Own Device world, activation lock can "help ease some of the fears of the CIO" that a lost or stolen iPhone could be used to access an enterprise system and the critical data it holds, Schwan said.

3. Per-app VPN.
This feature allows a user to open a secure VPN connection within any app. The user wouldn't first have to go to the iPhone settings to configure a VPN session before opening an app, as is required today.

The separate network tunnel is seen as more secure, while other apps — such as personal apps that don't require a VPN — could be used outside the VPN, Schwan said.

"If an employee has a CRM app that requires using a VPN, he could open that and still go to Facebook or another app the company is blocking without having to turn off the VPN," Schwan said. "This enables greater support for BYOD strategies."

4. AirDrop Sharing for Apps.
This allows app developers to add ways for users to share documents and content over the air, the same way that consumers use AirDrop to share photos and songs.

AirDrop works over Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, which allows sharing over greater distances than the 4-inch distance required by the NFC technology used in Android Beam, as Federighi noted on Monday.

 

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