Personal Small Business Enterprise

iOS 7 Features: What Your IT Department Needs to Know

If you use an iPhone or iPad for business, the upcoming iOS7 release is a big deal.  Apple considers it to be “the most significant update since the original iPhone” and with good reason.  When you look at all of the new features, it’s evident that Apple is finally embracing the enterprise world and the bring your own device (BYOD) trend. In addition, Apple has also taken steps towards separating personal and corporate data.

If you’ve been reluctant to use Apple’s mobile devices at work because they failed to meet your IT department’s requirements, iOS7 could clear up those problems for you. Here are some of the key features you need to know about:

Per app VPN functionality
Prior to iOS7, virtual private networks (VPN) were often considered an all-or-nothing scenario for businesses: either the VPN was connected and available to all apps or none at all. But iOS7’s per-app VPN functionality changes that.

When iOS7 is released, you’ll have the ability to control how apps access your network on an individual level and even configure apps to automatically connect to the corporate VPN when they are launched. The end result will be that data stays secure because it is protected within the network firewall. By the same token, unmanaged apps are left off the corporate network.

App store licence management
Many organizations enroll in Apple’s Business Volume Purchase Program to purchase iOS apps for their end users, which saves the hassle of users purchasing the app themselves and then asking for a reimbursement via an expense report. But the question of who owns the app is a little unclear. For example, if the user left a company and used their personal iPhone at work, the app technically leaves with them. But with iOS7, organizations will have the ability to purchase and assign apps to users with the flexibility to revoke the license to the app at any time and reassign it to a different user. This saves you from having to buy the same app over and over again when employees leave or circumstances change.

Managed “open in” functionality
iOS7 makes it possible to control the iOS “open in” functionality and configure what apps appear in the sharing panel. In other words, allowing a business to define what apps can be used to open specific file types. This functionality may seem to be only a minor update, but consider the following scenario to see the type of improvement it really is:

  • One of your employees receives an email from you with a confidential file attached. When they tap and hold the attachment, the sharing panel opens and they choose to open in Filebrowser and save the document to their home network.

That confidential file is now outside of your network and many businesses just can’t afford that risk. With managed “open in” functionality, you can help prevent file from sneaking outside your network.

New MDM configurations

Apple has made some mobile device management (MDM) improvements in iOS7 to help manage iPhones and iPads in your office. Company-owned devices can be enrolled into the MDM program during activation with iOS7, which helps IT admins save time and reduce configuration errors when setting up policies for a number of devices.

iOS7 also offers a number of new commands and configuration options for third-party MDM solutions. For example, you’ll have the ability to setup managed apps wirelessly, configure AirPrint printers, and whitelist AirPlay destinations.

Additional security enhancements
iOS7 promises to deliver a number of security improvements over previous iterations of iOS, and they come with the assurance that the user experience won’t be negatively impacted. One of these improvements is Enterprise single sign-on (SSO), which allows a user to authenticate with their enterprise credentials once and then access all the apps configured with SSO. This simplifies the user experience and keeps enterprise authentication in place for managed apps. Additionally, apps within the App Store now have data protection enabled automatically so any information stored in them is protected until the user unlocks the device with their passcode.

If you have a larger employee base, you’ll be happy to learn that Apple will offer a caching server called “Caching Server 2” that can help you manage Internet bandwidth. Among other things, “Caching Server 2” can cache purchased content on a Mac running OS X Mavericks Server, which enables users to update their iOS device directly over the business network instead of having to connect to the Apple App Store.

The bottom line
The numerous upgrades included within iOS7 come as welcome additions, and because many of the new features were built with businesses in mind, iOS7 is poised to enhance the reputation of iPhones and iPads as serious productivity tools for workplaces of all sizes.

What iOS7 features are you looking forward to the most? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Let us know what you think

2 responses to “iOS 7 Features: What Your IT Department Needs to Know”

  1. Steve Ash says:

    In iOS 7, have Apple addressed the anomoloies (things tha tdon’t work!) between iPhones / iPad Calendar and Exchange Calendar?

    As an IT lead trying to support the use of Apple products in a business environment, this currently gives me a major headache

    IT Director
    Pizza Hut UK

    • Rob says:

      That’s a great question, Steve, and I’m sure you’re not alone. It’s hard to say until we see what Apple unveils at their event tomorrow. Historically, each new iOS is heralded as a significant improvement over its predecessor and I’m sure the same will be true of iOS 7.

      – Rob
      Bell Social Media Team

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