But uptake has slowed.
Everything IT needs to know about managing iOS 7 devices
iOS 7 is easily the most important iOS upgrade for the enterprise. Although Apple built a significant amount of device management capabilities into iOS 4, the company has only made very minor tweaks to its enterprise feature set in iOS 5 and 6. Neither update did much to address some long-standing complaints from enterprise IT professionals like a true enterprise licensing option for mobile apps, management of mobile apps, or enterprise single sign on.
iOS 7 addresses those concerns and more.
When I spoke with Ojas Rege, Vice President of Strategy for MobileIron, about iOS 7 and the advances that Apple is making in accommodating its business and enterprise customers, he described iOS 7 as the beginning of a new era for Apple in the mobile-first enterprise. From the enterprise IT perspective, he pointed to the iPhone 3GS with its support for data encryption, Exchange policies, and configuration profiles as the first stage of enterprise penetration by the iPhone -- it was limited, but offered enough security to make it worth testing, or to allow a handful of users to bring into the office. Rege described iOS 4 as an adoption phase in which organizations began to accept the iPhone and iPad as a mobile productivity platform with a solid baseline of device security and a broad selection of business apps. When it comes to iOS 7, he described as an era where iOS devices truly become engines of business transformation.
iOS 7 has that transformative potential for a handful of reasons. It offers a much wider range of device, app, and data security and management capabilities, but it also makes most of them easier for enterprise IT and enterprise developers to use effectively. Apple also went to great lengths in designing its new and existing enterprise functionality as frictionless as possible for users.
Drawing the line between work and home
Before we start talking about the new mobile management capabilities in iOS 7, particularly those that relate to app management, it's important to understand the model Apple used in building these features. In iOS 7 there is a distinction between apps that are installed onto a device as being either managed or unmanaged.
Managed apps are those that are installed through a mobile management solution like an MDM/MAM service or through an enterprise app store solution that is iOS 7-compliant. As the name implies, these are apps that an administrator can apply specific settings, capabilities, or restrictions. Most of the app management capabilities introduced in iOS 7 (and listed below) rely on or integrate with managed app capabilities.
Unmanaged apps are those that are installed without such a system, such as a device owner installing the iBooks app or Words With Friends via the App Store. One of Apple's goals with this model seems to be clearly delineating which apps are work-related and which ones aren't, and using that dividing line as a basis for what IT departments can see or manage on a device that is used at both work and home -- like a BYOD device or a COPE (corporate owned, personally enabled) device that a user is encouraged to use as their personal device outside of the office.
One of the biggest benefits of this model is that it helps to protect a user's privacy, as mobile management tools can be configured to disallow a full inventory of apps on a device and simply show those that are managed (and therefore work related).
It's also important to realize that distinction between managed and unmanaged apps isn't related to the supervised mode for iOS devices that Apple introduced along with the free Apple Configurator tool. Supervised mode, which needs to be enabled using Configurator, is set at the device level, not the app level and enables much more restrictive IT control over a device. Supervised devices are typically organization-owned and dedicated to specific functions, often where added security is needed or desired, such as education, healthcare, kiosk uses like retail, and other settings where a pool of devices is shared by multiple employees.
Google's plan to bring Chrome packaged apps to Android and iOS is part of its strategy to make the web the primary platform for users. Converting Apple device owners will be a challenge.
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