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10 iOS 7 features that could make enterprises smile

Apple downplays enterprise capabilities early on, though expert finds several promising enterprise tools in updated iPhone OS

June 13, 2013 06:02 AM ET

Computerworld - Now that developers have had a few days to delve into the iOS 7 beta, it's becoming clear that the iPhone version of the software could prove beneficial to enterprises.

Many members of the 120-person development team at Solstice Mobile in Chicago have been scouring the many iOS 7 Application Programming Interfaces for features that can help large enterprises better build apps on iOS, Android, HTML5 and Windows Phone.

In a keynote speech at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, iOS development chief Craig Federighi said the beta version of the new operating system update sports some 1,500 APIs.

Solstice CEO J Schwan said his development team is still uncovering the ingredients of many of the new enterprise-focused features.

In an interview with Computerworld, Schwan said he's especially excited about Apple's new Activation Lock feature, as well as a single sign-on tool aimed at enterprise users as it works across multiple apps. (More details below.)

Schwan said he's also intrigued by the support for low-cost iBeacons transmitters that can connect an iPhone to a range of devices over Bluetooth 4.0 in a machine-to-machine world. The device would let the iPhone activate doors, lights and other things as a person holding it moves by.

Of all the platforms that Solstice Mobile supports, iOS -- especially on the iPad -- is the most important and interesting to the consulting firm's two dozen Fortune 500 customers, many with tens of thousands of employees and customers using iOS apps, Schwan said.

"IPad has been driving more of the interest from the enterprise standpoint than anything," Schwan said. "IOS is still kind of king here."

So far, only the iOS 7 beta for the iPhone has been released, but Federighi said he expects the iPad version to be available soon. The new iOS 7 software is slated to be available this fall.

In a blog post this week, Schwan summarized iOS 7's opportunities for enterprise users, and elaborated on many of the those points in the interview.

Apple officials barely mentioned the business advantages of iOS 7 at WWDC, though it did offer a brief explanation on its website.

"iOS 7 includes many new features designed to make it easier for businesses to put iOS devices in the hands of employees," Apple said on the website. "Features such as better protection of work and personal data, management of app licenses, seamless enrollment in Mobile Device Management, wireless app configuration, enterprise single sign-on support, and default data protection for third-party apps."

Schwan said some iOS 7 innovations are unique, while others match some already-available features in Android, such as the new Control Center, which quickly allows a user to toggle to a screen to turn on Wi-Fi or Airport Mode.



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