On September 18, Apple unveiled three new products from their mobile device teams that will likely impact everyone from case and clip-on speaker manufacturers to the creators of games and shopping apps. I’m referring, of course, to the polycarbonate iPhone 5c, biometric-capable iPhone 5s, and revamped iOS 7. Although the focus of these releases is arguably the consumer, I want to highlight some key iOS 7 advancements for business users and the enterprise.
At the core, iOS 7 is the largest refresh of the visual aspects of the mobile platform since its release in 2007. Apple went back to the drawing board in reconsidering the weight of fonts, screen workflows, and user interface (UI) controls like tables, date pickers, and even the simple clickable button. At each step of the way, the earlier real-world UI treatments that decorated screens – leather binding (Calendar), wood book shelving (iBook), linen texture (Notification Center), and glossy gradients (Game Center) – have been reconsidered to more clearly present information and user content.
The reduction in skeuomorphism (these real-world design elements) achieves a less rounded, bubbly look; however, this is different from a flattening effect. Instead, the iOS has colorful layers of translucency to make it easier to stay on track and not lose one’s place when jumping between apps. Subtle animation effects serve to liven up transitions between screens and give feedback to the user. The changes will require app developers to study and master the revised Apple Human Interaction Guide (HIG). This takes time and devotion as well as a highly talented engineering and design team.
IT administrators may benefit from iOS 7 as well. New in this release is an app-specific mechanism to secure data going into and coming out of a device called per-app Virtual Private Networking (VPN). Instead of requiring all personal (Twitter, Facebook, Gmail) and enterprise data traffic (CRM, ERP, Exchange Mail) to go through the corporate proxy, only sensitive apps go through the VPN, thereby avoiding an employee’s personal data being routed through the enterprise. App security gets improved in another way, too: The information stored by any installed apps will by default stay encrypted until you unlock your phone using Touch ID fingerprint sensor (iPhone 5s) or PIN (all other iDevices). Mobile Device Management (MDM) for employee- and enterprise-owned devices has gotten more granular. It’s now possible to separate personal and enterprise contact lists or force an enterprise-grade file viewer to be used for certain files viewed from Mail.
We expect a lot of developments coming from Apple’s competition in the mobile platform space in the coming months. Stay tuned to this space for our thoughts on these upcoming releases in the field, too.
Despite initial download hiccups, the iOS 6 to 7 upgrade path is on pace to be the fastest yet for the majority of users. As of this writing, more than half of all eligible devices are running the latest OS.
Your audience is waiting to see what you do with the new capabilities!