So the wrapping has come off iOS 7. If you look past all the eye candy there are quite a few new features aimed at businesses.
A lot of these features cover a broad spectrum in helping businesses support and deploy iOS devices.
Here is a list of what I think are some of the more important ones.
1. The App Store Volume Purchase Program
One of the biggest complaints has always been about the purchase of business required apps for employees. This has always been a bit of a mine field. Because apps are assigned to an AppleID, normally the end users, companies quite often ended up ‘gifting’ the app to that end user. This is all about to change.
Through the Volume Purchase Program, companies will shortly be able to purchase apps and assign them to their end users but still maintain control over that app.
Once the app is assigned to an end user they can download it the normal way through the App Store using their personal AppleID or the company can push it via an MDM solution. However at any time the company can revoke the app and assign it to another employe if required. This is really going to save a lot of headaches for managing your app suite.
2. New Mobile Device Management Features
MDM solutions play an important part in deploying and supporting iOS devices. Whether you are using Apple’s OS X Server or a third party service, Apple have added quite a few new features in this arena. Here are the highlights.
- You can now push apps silently to devices that are supervised without the user being prompted for their AppleID.
- The ability to install custom fonts on the device.
- Setup AirPrint printers.
- Create an AirPlay destination whitelist.
- You can specify which apps can use cellular data on supervised devices.
- You can push wall paper changes and set custom lock screens on supervised devices, useful for branding.
- You can push PKI updates over the air.
- You can put devices into the new Lost mode.
- Apple have also added some new queries including the ability to check if mobile hotspots are enabled,
- Do not disturb is enabled, Find my iPhone is enabled, and which iTunes account is
3. Streamlined MDM enrollment
To enroll the a device into your MDM solution currently requires a bit of setup which normally involves the device visiting a specific web page or the use of a custom app. For iOS 7 Apple will be offering a new service that ships the devices pre-configured with your MDM details. When the user gets the devices is still behaves in the normal way, they get the setup assistant and enter their details but the devices will then automatically enroll into your MDM solution and put down any profiles you have setup. This is a service only available for devices owned by the company but should prove a real time saver.
4. Third Party Data Protection
All apps have had the ability to encrypt any data they may have saved locally on the device but it was always down to the discretion of the developer. Now with iOS 7 apps will by default encrypt any data they may save.
5. Single Sign On
In the past if a company had developed an internal app it was possible for that app to authenticate against the companies directory server. The issue being was that if you had a suite of apps the end user would have to authenticate separately for each app. The apps could not share the same authentication information. With iOS 7 the users authentication details are now stored centrally , thus saving the user from having to re-enter their passwords for each app
6. Open in Management
To pass a document from one app to another on iOS involves the use of the ‘Open in’ menu. This would present the user with a list of apps that supported that specific document type. This was always considered a bit of s security risk as the company had very little control on what happened to that doc once it was on the iOS device. The user could easily pass it to an non approved app. Now with iOS 7, companies can manage which apps appear in the ‘Open In’ menu , thus restricting what the user can do with that doc.
7. Caching Server
This as been one of my favourite features. OS X Server 10.8 ships with a great service called the ‘Caching Service’. What this does is to cache any downloads either from the Mac App Store app or the iTunes app.
Once an update or a new download has been performed once, the Caching service would cache that file, the next time a user attempted to download the same file, the update would come from the server directly rather than over the internet from Apple, thus saving you bandwidth and greatly increasing the speed of the downloads.
It also performed this function with zero configuration required on the client. The one scenario which was not supported was apps/updates downloaded directly on the iOS device itself. The new caching service on Mavericks server will now at last support direct downloads
This is just a summary of what you can expect.