iOS 7 won't just sport a radically redesigned interface, it will also feature new mobile device management (MDM) capabilities that are meant to make it easier for enterprises to bring iPhones and iPads into their IT mix.
New additions to Apple's popular mobile operating system, which runs on the company's popular iPhone handsets and iPad tablets, make it "the most significant update since the original iPhone," according to the company. On its website, the Cupertino, Calif.-based device maker published a brief guide of the business-friendly features IT departments can expect when iOS 7 is released sometime this fall.
"iOS 7 provides enhanced security, powerful new ways to configure and deploy devices at scale, and features to help businesses purchase, distribute, and manage apps with ease," stated the company. And just in time, too.
Businesses are poised to spend big on mobile device purchases during the next few years, according to a forecast from Gartner. The research firm expects businesses to snap up 56 million tablets in 2016, including Apple's best-selling iPad.
The rising popularity of bring your own device (BYOD) initiatives isn't only redefining the concept of user IT, it's also providing the burgeoning market for MDM solutions some spark.
In February, Airwatch, a fast-growing MDM startup, announced that it banked a whopping $200 million in a round of Series A financing. The Atlanta-based company added another $25 million to that haul in May. Citrix, no stranger to mobile and remote device management, snapped up MDM vendor Zenprise in December to help enterprises simplify mobile device and app management.
As one of the leading forces behind the enterprise mobile movement, Apple detailed some of MDM-enabled features in iOS 7. These include a "number of new commands, queries, and configuration options that make third-party MDM solutions even more powerful," stated the company. MDM support will make it possible for IT administrators to set up managed apps wirelessly and whitelist AirPlay destinations, among other scenarios.
iOS 7 also supports enterprise single sign on, encrypted data protection for third party apps and per app VPN. "Open in" management capabilities allows administrators to restrict which apps can be used to view documents and attachments.
The company is also tackling bulk app licensing. New App Store Volume Purchase Program (VPP) options offer businesses some added flexibility. After purchasing apps on the VPP website, organizations can "assign apps to employees over the air."
Additionally, Apple is helping alleviate the thorny issue of mingling business with personal accounts. "Employees can enroll with their personal Apple IDs without providing it to their company, and apps are placed in their purchase history for self-service download, or are installed automatically via MDM," informed the company.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Database Journal and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.