WWDC: Enterprise mobility, mobile payments get a boost in iOS 8
At its annual developers' powwow being held this week, Apple unveiled a number of features designed to make its iOS devices more attractive to IT departments and mobile payment folks.
To speed adoption of iOS devices in the enterprise, Apple added security, productivity and device management features in its new mobile operating system iOS 8, which is expected to be available in the fall.
In the security area, Apple expanded data protection to more apps, including Calendar, Contacts, Reminders, Notes and Messages, and enabled fine-grained control for email encryption, such as encrypting individual messages.
On the productivity side, Apple made changes to improve efficiency of Mail and Calendar, as well as to provide easier access to corporate documents. "If you have an app that can access your corporate file servers, you can get to the document you need right from the app you want to edit it in," Apple explains on its website.
On the device management side, iOS 8 gives IT managers the ability to push books and PDFs to user devices using mobile device management tools and then retrieve them when no longer needed.
IT managers can control which apps can open documents from enterprise domains and from iCloud. In addition, third-party networking developers can create content-filtering tools.
IT admins can set the device name remotely and prevent users from adding restrictions or erasing devices and track when the device is backed up to iCloud. A remote management user interface makes "enrolling and understanding the impact of MDM easier and more transparent for users," Apple explains. Also, the MDM feature allows IT to assist users in authenticating to enterprise apps using certificate-based single sign-on.
Touch ID available to app developers
In addition, Apple has decided to open its Touch ID system on iOS 8 to third-party app developers. This will enable the fingerprint technology to be used to secure third-party apps as well as Apple apps and the device itself.
For example, banks could develop mobile apps that can be secured using the iPhone's fingerprint ID instead of a user name and password. Or the fingerprint technology could be used to secure mobile wallets.
"The current mobile wallet use case is far more onerous than pulling a piece of plastic out of one's wallet, which is why adoption has really struggled thus far--download app and enroll cards up front; then, while at merchant: grab phone, unlock phone, open wallet app, choose payment type, authenticate in the wallet app, then actually make the payment," CardFlight CEO Derek Webster tells Re/code in an email.
"The hope is that involving Touch ID can reduce enough of those steps to make mobile wallet a better use case for paying than [the] current model of taking out and swiping [a] card," Webster adds.
Will the changes Apple introduced to iOS 8 this week help it gain acceptance among IT departments and mobile payments firms? Well, the changes are a step in the right direction. And the popularity of Apple devices among employees and consumers doesn't hurt.