By Jaykishan Panchal, MoveoApps
The latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 8, includes some notable improvements that make it especially well suited to enterprise use. Here are eight of the most useful:
Enhanced security options. In iOS 7, only the Mail app and some third-party apps could be locked on iOS devices by assigning unique passwords to them. In iOS 8, this feature extends to many other enterprise-related apps, including Calendar, Contacts, Reminders, Notes and Messages.
iOS 8 also supports S/MIME, an encrypted security technology which allows users to virtually sign and encrypt messages. This makes protection of individual email messages possible.
Touch ID. Complicated passcodes to lock/unlock iOS devices will be a thing of the past with Touch ID. Launched with iPhone 5S, the fingerprint-locking mechanism and makes devices extremely secure for enterprises. With Touch ID, an employee gets exclusive permission to access professional data and opt for network access authentication. Also, it provides scope for creating custom enterprise apps protected with biometric security such as those used for marking employee attendance.
Integration of Calendar and Mail. Calendar on iOS 8 devices offers better integration with the Mail app for enterprises. They can use it to check employee availability for a meeting or an event and mark private events as well as email meeting/event attendees. It also includes a "Running Late" feature that can be used to alert folks if you are running late to a meeting/event.
The Mail app automatically detects the time and date for a meeting or event and highlights them with an underline. By tapping this underline, that particular date and time automatically gets added to the Calendar as an event.
VIP Threads. iOS 8 offers support for multiple accounts in the Mail app. A new feature called VIP Threads also allows employees to mark a particular email conversation thread as VIP. Whenever there is a new message in the same thread, it shows up on the lock screen. Therefore, constant and often unnecessary alerts will not keep popping up on the screen, except for the ones in the thread.
Third-party Storage. iOS 8 supports third-party storage clients for iCloud, including OneDrive and SharePoint. These services were already integrated in Office for iPad and iPhone. Now, the documents can be accessed by Pages, Numbers and Keynote along with some third-party apps. For instance, Microsoft added Dropbox integration to its Office mobile and Web apps.
Owing to the fact that enterprises can always do with additional storage space, this feature offers them many benefits. They can also decide which third-party storage services their employees can access and use.
Continuity. Continuity is a feature that lets users seamlessly use their iOS/OS X devices to complete tasks. Even without prior configuration, they can start a task on one device and continue it on another. For instance, employees can answer calls, reply to a mail and access apps such as Keynote, Maps, Safari and Calendar in their Mac or MacBook over Wi-Fi simply by signing in with their iCloud account. Even if their iPad or Mac is out of the same Wi-Fi range, these devices can automatically connect to the iPhone’s personal hotspot (if it is nearby).
Although this functionality is still in its nascent stage, it holds immense potential for future, enterprise-specific apps. With Apple Watch in the lineup of Apple devices, it will be interesting to see how continuity works for different enterprises.
Quick Contacts. Multi-tasking gets a new meaning for enterprises with the option for users to access their most recent contacts in the app switcher. The contacts can be fetched from either Recents (contacts recently interacted with) or Favorites (favorite contacts) and accordingly, they will show up on the app switcher screen. This a great feature for following up with an important client. Just tap on the contact and call, send a text message or use FaceTime.
Quick Type. Drafting a formal mail or composing a quick message is easier with the Quick Type feature in iOS 8. It provides commonly used words and phrases to select from, by taking a look at the past conversations and writing style of the user. So, suggestions made while typing an email to a colleague will be different than the one to a family member or to a friend. This predictive text is also optimized for a number of languages such as French, Chinese, Italian and German, which makes it easier to communicate with clients in other countries.