Apple is starting to pay special attention to a powerful group of iPhone buyers: enterprises.
Many companies buy “fleets” of smartphones for their employees and their IT pros need these devices to be easy to protect and manage.
In June, Apple teased a whole bunch of new business-friendly features in iOS 7 but details were thin.
“Open-in management” is a feature that controls which apps and accounts can open attachments from the corporate network and which cannot.
Per App VPN allows IT to choose which apps will automatically connect to the corporate network when they are opened and which cannot. For instance, it can let your corporate email or corporate chat room connect to the VPN without typing in an extra password, but not your personal email or your Facetime account.
Enterprise single sign-on support: Single sign-on is a security tool that lets a user enter a username/password once and gain access to all the enterprise-owned apps that require the password.
Passwords for third-party apps: The data with third-party apps is locked away, automatically, until a user unlocks the phone with a password.
Better support of Mobile Device Management software: Mobile Device Management is a category of software that lets enterprises track, secure and manage fleets of devices. iOS 7 makes it easier for iPhones to be automatically set up with this software.
Wireless app configuration: IT pros can choose to managed apps wirelessly, so they don’t have to touch the phones to control the apps on it. They can also configure AirPrint printers, and whitelist AirPlay destinations.
Better control of corporate bought apps: Apple has something called App Store volume purchasing since 2011, but it didn’t offer any control. Once a company bought an app and installed it on someone’s phone, they couldn’t revoke it if the employee left the company and give it to someone else. Now they can.
Better Email. Smart mailboxes, PDF support and ramped up search make this iteration of email the most business-friendly yet.
Activation Lock is a security feature designed to make it harder for thieves to resell stolen iPhones and iPads. If a thief tries to wipe data from a stolen device, they won’t be able to get it working again without the owner’s Apple ID and password.
Jonathan Dale, director of marketing at Fiberlink, a company that makes MDM software gives Apple the thumbs up for business use.
“It’s pretty clear to me that Apple has put a considerable amount of time and effort into solving some of the challenges IT managers face,” he says. “This release should have IT staff lining up around the block.”