Apple iOS 7 Means Business

Apple iOS 7

According to Apple, 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.

It seems that iOS 7 aims to protect corporate data by controlling which apps and accounts are used to open documents and attachments. Managed open in gives IT the ability to configure the list of apps available in the sharing panel. This keeps work documents in corporate apps and also prevents personal documents from being opened in managed apps.

It should help to prevent leakage of data as it provides the ability to control which apps an iOS 7 device uses to open a document, through managed apps. Prior to this, you could basically use any app to document which was a security risk.

Apps can now be configured to automatically connect to VPN when they are launched. Per app VPN gives IT granular control over corporate network access. It ensures that data transmitted by managed apps travels through VPN — and that other data, like an employee’s personal web browsing activity, does not.

Previously, enabling the VPN meant the entire device would have access to the businesses back-end systems via the VPN connection—posing again leading to security risks. Through supported VPNs from the likes of Cisco and Juniper, VPN connections can now be launched at an app level. This allows for the first time the separation of business and personal use case scenarios on an iOS device. It also gives the IT dept greater fine grained control.

The App Store Volume Purchase Program now enables assignment of apps to their users while keeping full control over app licenses. Companies purchase app licenses through the VPP website, and can use their MDM solution to assign apps to employees over the air. Employees can enroll with their personal Apple IDs and Apps can be revoked at any time and reassigned to other employees.

The MDM protocol in iOS 7 includes more commands and configuration options for third-party MDM solutions. Particularly welcome will be the ability to wirelessly set up managed apps and AirPrint printers. Here Apple seem to be offering MDM APIs to vendors to take advantage of iOS in providing application-level security more tightly than before.

Institutionally-owned devices can be automatically enrolled in MDM during activation so as to speed up the process dramatically. It can now supervise devices over the air enabling additional controls for highly managed deployments.

Enterprise single sign (ESO) means user credentials can be used across apps so that for instance, users can login in without requiring them to re-enter passwords. Third-party apps now have data protection enabled automatically, so information stored in App Store apps is protected with the user’s passcode until they first unlock their device after each reboot.

Other aspects include a whole new design and use of new system-wide gestures to make Mail easier to use than ever. New features include the ability to add and reorganize smart mailboxes in the mailbox list, view PDF annotations, and redesigned search. Users can store sensitive information like passwords, account names and credit card numbers in the iCloud so that the OS can automatically fill them in when signing in to a website. It also syncs across other iOS 7 devices and the desktop operating system OS X Mavericks.

Regarding more flexible sharing, Airdrop allows making an iOS device available to anyone, only to people present in your Contacts list, or to disable it entirely. It works in many apps. Mobile Safari has been improved for browsing with more space savings. New gesture controls have also been introduced here. The bookmarks page has also been updated, dropping the folder design for a tabbed interface that allows jumping between your bookmarks.

Mail is updated to make it easier to view and sort mail and manage conversations. Here again, swiping from left to right anywhere in the app will take you back up to the previous screen and other gestures are included too. Calendars has three views that offer differing levels of zoom. Reminders has also been improved in ways that should make them easier to organize. Location based reminders also. Non-authorised lightning cables now display a warning – that is all however…

It is also worth pointing out that some internal apps or mobile device management (MDM) solutions may not yet be compatible, so it actually might still be a little early for businesses to migrate over as some users might find themselves barred from their corporate network.

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Kevin Curran

Kevin Curran is a Reader in Computer Science at the University of Ulster. His achievements include winning and managing UK & European Framework projects and Technology Transfer Schemes. He has published over 700 published works to date. He is the Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Ambient Computing and Intelligence (IJACI). He is a regular contributor to TV, radio and press on topical issues in computer science. Dr Curran is a senior member of the IEEE, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a Fellow of the British Computer Society and is listed by Marquis in their prestigious Who’s Who in Science and Engineering, the Dictionary of International Biography and by Who’s Who in the World.

  • Tim Williams

    Since Apple included the first hooks for managing mobile devices in 2010, it’s fair to say progress on similar enterprise features in iOS has been slow. iOS 7, however, represents the biggest leap forward so far, and one that delivers many long-awaited requests.

    Many of the updates in iOS 7 completely change how enterprises can manage Apps at scale. Where previously, company-purchased apps had to be linked to employees’ personal Apple IDs, iOS 7 keeps the license linked to the central corporate account, even when it is deployed to employee-owned devices. Even better, these apps can be silently pushed to employee devices, with all the configuration settings applied.

    Meanwhile, expanded “Open in…” dialogue and per-app VPN settings means you can dictate that certain types of documents and data can only be accessed in specific apps or securely across a VPN connection. This control element means employees can’t just share a document from a secure managed App to an unsecured personal one. Again, this is a huge leap forward for data security. And it also means VPN features can become a respectable and convenient concession rather than a device-dominating irritation.

    The biggest consideration that is unaddressed by iOS 7 is nothing new. Ultimately, BYOD is not a technology challenge, it’s a business challenge. iOS 7 provides many new management features, but they won’t help until you have well-planned management policies.

    Beyond that, effective management demands the intelligent automation of MDM to apply those policies to the right devices, at the right time, in the right way – not only on iOS, but on Android, Windows Phone and tablets. With manufacturers like Samsung increasingly adding their own features and embellishments to each of these, the variety of setups and mobile devices that your system needs to manage isn’t getting any smaller. It is also worth considering that your system will be in a stronger position if supported by smarter, more sophisticated mobile device management tools to pick up the ball and run with these innovations.

    Tim Williams, Director of Product Management