(You're reading all posts by Ryan Faas)Ryan Faas is a technology journalist and consultant living in upstate New York who has written extensively about Apple, business and enterprise IT, and the mobile industry. In addition to writing for Cult of Mac, he is a contributor to Computerworld, InformIT, and Peachpit Press. In a previous existence he was a healthcare IT director as well as a systems and network administrator. Follow Ryan on Twitter and Google +.
About Ryan Faas
With the release of iOS 6, Apple will offer business users a range of new features. A few of which are VIP email filtering (already in Mountain Lion) with custom notifications, more options when declining a phone call on the iPhone, much-needed privacy options, and Apple’s new Do Not Disturb feature – which should help some mobile professionals to “switch off” after work and maybe even get a good night’s sleep.
iOS updates are generally designed to be user-friendly and easy enough that anyone can manage to install them. As with any major OS or business critical software upgrade, however, there may be unforeseen issues with iOS 6 – particularly when it comes to internal iOS apps and iOS access to enterprise systems.
An iOS 6 upgrade policy and strategy is something that every IT department should have in place before Apple releases iOS 6. For businesses that actively support user devices in the workplace through a BYOD (bring your own device) program, that upgrade strategy is even more critical.
One of the first thoughts I had when Apple announced AirPlay Mirroring as a feature in Mountain Lion was that it would make an excellent mobile presentation tool and one that would be far easier to bring to business meetings, trade shows, or client-site training events than hauling a projector. With just a MacBook Air and Apple TV, you can plug into any HDTV, display, or projector that supports HDMI and be ready to go. That’s a great combination for any business traveler.
If Apple does announce AirPlay Direct, a new version of AirPlay that doesn’t require a Wi-Fi network, the company will have made the lives of business travelers, trainers, and educators even easier. It will probably also make network administrators in both business and education a bit happier as well.
One of the first secure business solutions for the iPhone and iPad was Good for Enterprise, a secure collaboration tool that allows companies to separate business email, calendar, and contact systems from Apple’s standard Mail, Calendar, and Contacts apps. Going beyond simply separating work accounts and data from a user’s personal accounts, Good’s alternatives securely encrypt all data and must be unlocked using credentials other than the passcode used to unlock an iOS device.
Good released a significant update to Good for Enterprise this week, one that makes the solution more streamlined, user-friendly, and offers powerful new features – some of which are worth considering for their business functionality as well as their innate security.
Ahead of the launch of Parallels Desktop 8, Parallels has launched a crowdsourced “Apple In The Workplace Barometer” that allows businesses or individual employees to see how their workplace ranks in terms of BYOD readiness for Macs, iOS devices, and other technologies. The site offers a quick and simple questionnaire that asks workers (or managers) about their work computing tasks, resources, and company-provided options. At the end of the survey, their company is plotted on a grid that measures active adoption of Apple technologies and active IT support for Macs, iPhones, and iPads.
After months of delays, Isis has announced the debut of its mobile payment system. A joint venture by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, Isis made news earlier this year at the Mobile World Congress in March, but has been pretty quiet since then. During that quiet period a number of other players in the mobile payment market have stolen the spotlight and announced major deals.
Apple is expected to eventually unveil its own mobile payment system, one that will most likely be based around the iTunes Store payment system, but hasn’t made announcements beyond iOS 6’s Passbook feature. Apple has also kept quiet about whether it will include NFC chips used in some mobile payment systems in the upcoming iPhone 5, which some analysts and pundits consider a barrier to entry into the mobile payment market.
It’s no real secret that bring your own device (BYOD) programs and the explosion of iPhones, iPads, and other mobile devices in the workplace have begun changing how we work, how we view work as a part of lives, and how much we work out of the office. A study earlier this year concluded that the average American worker using mobile technologies works seven hours outside of the office (essentially one business day) every week. A more recent study indicated some mobile professionals work even more – up to 20 hours each – during off hours thanks to BYOD programs.
One of the impacts this has one iPhone and iPad-toting professionals is a disruption from the traditional work/life balance that can make hard to fully “switch off” at the end of the day. Now there’s evidence that such a disruption can have a physical as well as a psychological impact on the human body.
It’s been over two years since Apple unveiled iOS 4 with mobile management features designed to make the iPhone and iPad a significantly better corporate citizen. During those years, the landscape of business and enterprise mobility has changed dramatically. RIM has collapsed and will never truly recover, Microsoft has doubled down on the interface it launched late in 2010 with no guarantee of success, and Android has become much more enterprise friendly. Perhaps more important is the fact that idea of mobile management and security has shifted from a focus on devices to a focus on securing data and managing mobile apps.
As all this has happened, Apple’s mobile management framework, which is the system that all mobile management vendors plug into in order to secure and manage iOS devices, has essentially stagnated. With iOS 6 on the horizon, lets look at the areas that Apple needs to address if it wants iOS to remain one of the preferred mobile platforms for business.
Like many federal agencies, the Department of Veterans Affairs has embarked on the journey of integrating iPhones and iPads as mobile solutions. The agency currently has 20,000 mobile devices that includes iPhones and iPads along with some BlackBerries and a small number of Android devices. Despite the range of devices, the VA has been very active in trying to eliminate mobile data breaches and, according to the VA’s director of Mobile and Security Assurance Donald Kachman, the agency’s campaign has been extremely successful.
Kachman credits encryption technologies with as a major factor in that success – 99% of all VA data is now secured around the clock on mobile devices and desktop PCs. The security approach is one that can be a model for any organization.
Secure enterprise file sharing and file management vendor Accellion has added Mac support to its file sync system for mobile workers known as kitedrive. As we noted earlier this year in covering the launch of kitedrive for iOS, Accellion describes kitedrive as “Dropbox for the enterprise.” That’s a pretty good description. kitedrive syncs content for offline access to business documents, which are securely encrypted during transmission and while stored on the a mobile device, PC, or Mac.
What do you do if you’re a medical technology startup while waiting for the FDA to approve your flagship iPhone-based product?
If you’re AliveCor, you launch a veterinary version of it.
The product in question is AliveCor’s iPhone ECG heart monitor, which the company showed off nearly two years ago, at the CES in 2011. The device allows a medical professional to assess a patient’s heart rhythm, providing more data than a stethoscope or manual check of their pulse. Although the device has broad potential, it has yet to be approved by the FDA.