With the iPhone 5 and iOS 6, Apple is showing some interest in wooing corporate users.It added a few new features to make iPhones work better for companies that would maybe buy a bunch of them for employee use.
Some of these features need the Apple Configurator, a free app that Apple released last spring.
1. The biggest new addition is a feature called Guided Access.
“We call this ‘App Lock,’ ” says Jamie Barnett, director of marketing for mobile device management company Zenprise. “This lets the admin lock the device to a single app and prevent the user from going to the home screen.”
This will probably be more popular for iPads, when they are being used for something specific, such as a cash register.
2. Or, the iPhone 5 also offers “Supervised Mode” which lets administrators change iOS security settings or user info from afar or at setup time, describes Sean Gallagher at Ars Technica. Admins can control things like syncing of recent contacts to a mail server, or they can wipe the phone’s configuration profiles on a certain date. This makes it easier for multiple employees to share a phone, or for admins to execute some control on iPhones owned by others, like a contract worker, says Barnett.
3. Admins can lock the device down in all kinds of ways. They can disable Game centre, iMessage, iBookstore and shared photo stream. They can also restrict content from iBookstore based on ratings, such as books tagged as erotica. This could make the device be all work and no play, to keep employees from squandering their data plan.
4. iOS 6 now has the ability to define a HTTP global proxy, which means that a company can set the phone to use the company’s own Internet access servers. This is a minor feature but if the company has Internet access policies, like blocking porn sites, it could help enforce them.
Apple hasn’t had to think much about the enterprise. Consumers have been bringing Apple devices to work even without IT’s permission. This has helped launch a massive trend called Bring Your Own Device or BYOD.
But Apple has also been criticised for not doing enough to systematically win enterprise businesses, ignoring a potentially lucrative market. So it’s good for Apple to start to cater to this massive, wealthy customer a little more.
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