An enterprise take on Apple’s 2018 iPhones

A few enterprise-focused topics to think about in advance of Apple's big iPhone event today.

Apple, Gather Round, Apple event, iPhone, iPad Pro, Apple Watch, Macs
Apple

Expectation is high and #AppleEvent is trending on Twitter, so you know it’s September 12 — the day when Apple is expected to introduce new iPhones, Apple Watch, iPads, and possibly a few more goodies. So, I thought it might be good to flag up a few enterprise-focused things to watch for.

What we think we know about Apple's announcements

We’ve provided cut-out-and-keep guides to some of the latest speculation about new iPhones, the iPad Pro and the Apple Watch, and I’ll be attempting a live feed over here (I’m using a new tool to do so and wanted to test it somewhere first). The new Macs will pack a punch but will merit an article of their own. I’ll be providing post-announcement analysis on this blog after the event, but for now I wanted to touch base on the potential significance of Apple’s new products for enterprise users.

Face ID replaces Touch ID

It looks like Face ID will replace Touch ID across both iPhones and iPads this year. I’m guessing Apple feels confident enough to promise the technology provides strong security protection at this point — it has been in use for a year across tens of millions of devices and no egregious security hacks have been reported.

In enterprise terms, I suspect this means CIOs will be more willing to add devices secured by the new technology to their mobile device fleet. It’s also always important to note that both Face ID and Touch ID weren’t the final security barrier, but a convenience that supplements use of strong passcodes.

Faster processors

Everyone thinks Apple will field new 7-nanometer A12 chips inside these new devices (possibly extending to iPad Pro).

That’s interesting from the point of view of being a unique market advantage (no one else is shipping such a small die chip in a mass market device), but this should also deliver significant improvements in device performance and battery life.

Streams and feeds aside, this equates to mobile devices that can achieve more, do more, and be more productive. Of course, if your enterprise uses proprietary mobile apps across its business, you may need to pump resources into upgrading those apps to properly harness the new performance advantages. You may also find it possible to make those apps more full-featured than before.

The iPhone XS Max

Any way you look at it, the high-end of the new Apple smartphone fleet seems set to deliver power, performance, and enormous display space for a pocketable device.

The (allegedly) iPhone XS Max model is expected to offer a massive 6.5-inch OLED display, but because this works with an edge-to-edge thin bezel screen, it should deliver a great deal of usable space.

You can expect knowledge workers in your company to start turning up with these devices, particularly given recent speculation they will support some iPad multitasking features, potentially including Slide Over or Split View.

I can’t help but imagine that if combined with Apple Pencil support (hotly rumored a few weeks ago, though recent speculation has chilled) the iPhone XS Max looks like a strong compromise between the mobility of a smartphone and the productivity/display space you want from the still very popular iPad mini.

What about the dual SIM?

Should Apple introduce dual-SIM support across the new iPhone range, it will change the mobile industry and give users (particularly business users) a neat way to sign up to temporary local connections when traveling in order to avoid bill shock.

At time of writing, speculation suggests these models will be made available only in certain markets.

All the same, I can’t help but imagine that at some point, Apple will be able to introduce dual SIM devices in every territory, so mobile networks should see this as a mission statement. While other dual SIM devices do exist, they don’t have anything like the sales numbers of iPhone. That means they don’t pose a huge consequential revenue attack on mobile networks (so they happily sell them).

However, by introducing what will be a popular tool in key markets, Apple is giving fair warning to networks to identify new revenue opportunities, most likely in terms of OTT services to smartphone users.

Some MVNOs won’t make the cut on this, but others will focus on new services such as threat intelligence systems, smart networks, and SD-WAN as they work to extend their business. Those new business models are far less about network provision and far more about network-only service provision. Dumb pipes won't last the course.

Machine intelligence

I’ve spent a lot of time looking at some of the enterprise impacts of Apple’s Core ML, machine intelligence, and ARKit developments, so I won’t reprise them too much here. Enough to point out that Apple’s new devices will be a tight fit for augmented and virtual reality experiences (the high-end device seems likely to bring new technologies to this space).

Given that the best available iPhones will likely see a big pick-up among Apple’s highest-end consumers, companies creating AR experiences must think about how to engage those users with their solutions.

With Apple’s iOS empire being so much more unified than other platforms, they will also be able to push the envelope on the kind of experiences they do deliver, in relative confidence that what they make will be accessible to millions of users.

This is going to have some significance to retail, but it will also open the door to the evolution of AR across new industry segments.

Privacy

Apple is pushing for more privacy. Enterprises making business in the app development space need to recognize this, while others involved in mobile deployments may want to build robust security policy regarding third-party app data exfiltration.

The growing allure of iPad Pro

With more available display space, Face ID and iOS 12’s excellent tablet productivity features, 2018’s iPad Pro range should deliver all the productivity, performance, and battery life improvements listed above. Supplement those with the tablet-only advantages, and these products become an ever-improving PC replacement.

Many in the enterprise may find themselves considering replacing EOL Windows devices with Apple tablets for use in some situations, particularly as the tablets become much more powerful machines. Industrial and field service applications are already becoming widespread.

Apple’s continued bravery in abandoning headphone ports across its products may mean these tablets will be more robust and water resistant than before.

Prime time for Apple Watch

Faster, better battery life, and interesting new health sensors (possibly including an ECG) and the capacity to handle more on-screen Complications means Apple Watch is also becoming a more effective tool for enteprise use.

These things are already in use across unlikely sectors with Capital One, SAP, Salesforce, and a range of solutions from IBM, helping the Apple wearable make the transition from consumer toy to essential enterprise tool. I think the introduction of new Siri features within watchOS 5 should make these things more productive. 

That's all for now. Check back later for analysis and reaction around Apple’s news.

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