WWDC: 12+ announcements for the Apple enterprise

Buried within the tidal wave of news from Apple's WWDC this week are numerous details that should be of interest to enterprise users.

WWDC, Apple, iOS, macOS, Big Sur, ARM, developers, enterprise

Apple’s move to Apple Silicon processors and major version updates across all its operating systems are always interesting, but within the company’s news you’ll find numerous improvements for the enterprise. Here’s what you need to know:

Apple already sells an Apple Silicon Mac

Apple is moving the Mac to run on Apple Silicon - and is already offering a Mac based on the chip in the form of the Apple Developer Transition Kit, which consists of documentation, advice and an Apple Silicon-powered Mac mini running Big Sur.

Many enterprise developers will want to test these systems in order to see how well they might integrate into increasingly iOS-friendly business environments. Not to mention the chance to build Mac apps on the back of existing iOS solutions.

One more thing, Big Sur is known as macOS 11. We have left OS X behind.

App Store rules changed

Businesses offering iOS apps will be delighted Apple has relaxed the rules around the App Store a little. Developers will now be able to appeal decisions concerning if an app violates Apple guidelines, and will also be able to challenge the guideline itself. The company has also promised not to delay bug fixes to existing apps over guideline violations, except in response to legal issues. These two changes should enable more businesses to find a way to work well with Apple’s platforms in the App economy.

'Find My' is a stalking horse

Apple’s Find My system is expected to spawn small tracking devices called Apple Tags at some point, but these haven’t shown up yet.

At the same time, it looks like the company is building a system that could yield fresh business uses and opportunity. This is because Apple has announced the ‘Find My network accessory program’, a scheme that will let third-party device makers take advantage of what it calls a “Network with hundreds of millions of devices”.

Think about that: Cars and bikes may ship with built in Find My access, enabling owners to quickly find a stolen device, while health centres may add Find My to valuable medical equipment to make it easier to find during emergencies.

This is a business opportunity, I think.

Chrome extensions are invited

Apple’s Safari for Mac will support the same WebExtensions API used by Chrome, Firefox and Edge. That means the developers behind all those useful Chrome extensions may now want to implement Safari support in order to offer their own extensions via the Mac App Store. Given that some Chrome extensions are super-impressive (I like Ubersuggest, for example), this could be a good thing for developers, users and enterprises already reaching their clients with Chrome.

App Clips for the rest of us

There’s a big enterprise opportunity to App Clips, particularly at retail stores.

I see it this way: A retailer may have created a fantastic AR environment in their app, but may not be achieving customer adoption. Solution? Place an Apple QR code in the store, invite customers to try the app in App Clip mode, offering up some of the functionality of the full app with an invite to download it.

Retailers with brand loyalty or unique payment schemes may also want to work with this to provide customers with a taste of the full app.

A warning to ads firms

Apple is pretty much warning ads analytics firms to move away from tracking individuals and identify some other way to handle ads traffic. New privacy and security tools in Safari include an easy to locate tool that will monitor what tracking code exists on any site, enabling users to switch tracking off.

Another feature means apps don’t get to know your precise location as you can set it to only learn your approximate location. To achieve this, Apple divided the planet into regions around 10 square mile in size, each with its own name. The areas are not defined by the user’s position, but are fixed with the user placed in the relevant area. This prevents apps from extrapolating your precise position as you aren’t always gong to be at the center point of the boundary.

The days of surveillance-based advertising are quite clearly numbered on Apple’s platforms. 

An improved sales funnel

Apple has made some useful improvements in StoreKit that should make it easier and more efficient for developers to build good subscription traffic. A new tool lets developers simulate sales inside apps, test purchasing workflows and better manage customer experiences. The company now also supports Family Sharing for subscriptions and in-app purchases, which should help developers deliver shared experiences.

iPad and iPhone apps for Macs

If your business already offers an iPad or iPhone app, then it will be worth taking the time to ensure these also run well on Macs as they will do so almost automatically once the new Apple Silicon Apple Macs arrive later this year.

Not only is this a chance to maintain your relationship with your customers where your customers are, but it’s also an opportunity to think about and build valuable tools/experiences that help your customers and reinforce your brand.

You can also test widely before deployment as TestFlight now supports up to 100 team members for fast build distribution.

Xcode already works on iPad chips

Don’t neglect that Xcode works on Apple Silicon. We know this because the company admitted that its entire WWDC keynote demo ran on Macs equipped with its own processors. Those demos included use of Xcode on those chips. Now we know Xcode works on an A12X chip -- the same chip that powers iPad Pro. With this in mind, what reason is there not to run Xserve on an iPad Pro?

You may not need to upgrade

Apple surprised many with this news: Not only does iOS 14 run on any iPhone that supports iOS 13 (including the iPhone SE), but macOS 11 will run on the following Macs:

  • 2015 and later MacBook
  • 2013 and later MacBook Air
  • 2013 and later MacBook Pro
  • 2014 and later Mac mini
  • 2014 and later iMac
  • 2017 and later iMac Pro
  • 2013 and later Mac Pro.

This is great as it means your company should be able to squeeze a little more usable life out of your existing tech investments, which may prove invaluable as we work out of the coronavirus slump.

And may want to migrate

Apple made a point of telling us it was using Parallels to run Linux in emulation mode on an Apple Silicon-powered Mac. It forgot to mention that these Macs will also run Windows in emulation. That was revealed briefly as a Dock icon on the Mac Desktop when the company showed us Monument Valley 2 running on Apple silicon.

In other words, these Macs will run Mac apps, iOS apps, iPad apps — and Windows and Linux, too.

Why stick with Windows PCs when your Macs can run all the important platforms?

There’s much more to come

Apple has numerous enterprise-focused sessions scheduled during WWDC across numerous topics. Think: zero touch deployment, Apple device management and use of authentication and identity to support enterprise services.

Another session will look at building location aware enterprise apps, enabling your business to create apps that can only work in specific places using Apple’s own Caffe Macs app to illustrate the case.

Developers will today also enjoy a conversation on how tech helps boost remote collaboration between Box CEO Aaron Levine and Apple’s VP Cloud Services, Mike Abbott. With sessions around privacy, security, and more all scheduled during the week there should be plenty for enterprise IT. There’s more to come on machine learning, too, as the company shares new tools in Core ML, Create ML and more APIs for vision and natural language.

I'm watching everything I can, reading widely, and working to get on top of Apple's vast assembly of news. Please let me know your thoughts and observations.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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