When Apple previewed some of the new features slated for iPhone OS 4 (due out this summer for iPhone and iPod touch and this fall for iPad), it listed enterprise-related improvements as one of the seven "tent pole" features that Steve Jobs discussed at Thursday's media event.
Those specific enterprise-related features, as well as a number of other new features that weren't branded as enterprise-specific, may finally illustrate that Apple is ready to make the iPhone a truly enterprise-grade mobile device.
Despite the potential of the iPhone for use as a business mobile computing device -- offered by both its built-in features and a dramatic range of third-party business and productivity apps -- many mobile IT managers and systems administrators have historically tried to prevent or limit the adoption of the iPhone in their organizations.
Mobile IT iPhone Issues Addressed in OS 4
While some Apple fans might describe this as an anti-Apple or pro-Microsoft bias, the truth is that there are challenges associated with the iPhone that simply don't exist for other platforms. These include limitations on securing confidential or sensitive data on the device; very limited over-the-air options for applying security policies or device configuration; no real tools for managing mass deployments; and the reliance on iTunes for activation, backup, sync, and loading content and apps.
In its preview of iPhone OS 4, Apple addressed each of these concerns to some extent. Apple also announced multitasking functionality for third-party apps as well as about 1,500 new APIs that developers can use to improve existing applications -- including access to device features or components that were previously accessible only by Apple. For instance, mobile developers can now access the Calendar app and its data as well as having in-app access to SMS messaging.
So what features making it into iPhones this summer have the potential to bring the iPhone into more business and enterprise environments? Here's a quick rundown of 12 iPhone IT issues and of what we currently know about them given the OS 4 news.
One of the biggest concerns IT has always had with the iPhone was securing data stored on the device if it is lost or stolen. The iPhone 3GS pioneered whole device encryption on the platform but was limited compared to other platforms. The iPhone OS 4 will include a feature dubbed "device protection" that can implement a user's passcode to unlock his or her phone as an encryption key for securing all email and email attachments. Considering emails and attached files are often the most sensitive data on a smartphone, this is a big and much-needed improvement.
2. Mobile App data encryption:
In addition to encrypting email and the whole device encryption introduced on the iPhone 3GS, Apple will be providing APIs to iPhone developers to allow them to easily include data encryption in their apps for whatever data they may store. This isn't entirely new as existing apps from varied developers can encrypt data stored in them on an iPhone.
Read the rest at Enterprise Mobile Today.