But uptake has slowed.
An iPad wish list for the enterprise
iOS 7 brought many new enterprise features to iPhones and iPads. The iPhone 5s pioneered fingerprint as a passcode shortcut as well as the M7 enhanced motion sensor chip and Apple's 64-bit A7 processor. With Apple expected to announce new iPads next Tuesday, many people have speculated what new features a fifth generation iPad and a second generation iPad mini might sport.
While new iPads would definitely focus on consumer features, Apple could also continue its efforts in the business and enterprise sectors with new features for business users and enterprise IT.
With that thought in mind, here's my next generation iPad enterprise wish list. While some of these features are all but certain, there are some that are also a bit unlikely.
Broad international LTE support -- Apple caught a lot of flak when it released the third generation iPad because it only supported LTE frequency bands in North America. Each device released since has increased the supported LTE bands, including the recently released iPhone 5S and 5S. At the very least Apple should include the same breadth of international LTE support as the new iPhones, and perhaps go even broader. The fact that cellular iPads sold in the U.S. are not locked to a carrier and can support local micro SIM cards when users are traveling internationally can be a big cost saver. The more countries and carriers supported, the higher the value of the iPad as a business tool.
The ability to put devices in supervised mode without using Apple Configurator -- Technically, this is an iOS issue, but in the real world it applies much more to iPads than iPhones. Supervised mode offers enterprise IT a broader range of device management and application management capabilities, including the ability to silently install apps and employ global content filters for all web browsers on a device. The challenge is that today supervised mode can only be enabled by connecting an iOS device to a Mac running Apple Configurator (and requires wiping the device). This takes lots of time and effort and really breaks down as a use case with even moderately large iOS device deployments. Apple is almost certainly working on a wireless option, but what that will look like, how it will function, and any requirements remain unknown at this point.
Higher capacity models for both the full size iPad and iPad mini -- As iPads become standard computing tools in schools and many businesses, there's a growing need to store content -- including content created or edited on the device itself. While the current 128GB iPad seems spacious for a mobile device, it isn't that spacious if you're using an iPad for storing massive digital content libraries or for doing large projects that involve video, audio, and image editing. Increasing capacity could be a game changer for certain professions where large amounts of digital content need to be available at a moment's notice. At the very least, it would be nice to see Apple match the current 128GB option of the full-size iPad in the iPad mini.
Increased battery life and wireless charging -- These are both self-explanatory. As iPads become more dominant parts of the professional workplace and lifestyle, there are increasing demands for power. Apple has focused on increasing battery capacity with each new generation of iOS devices and should continue that trend. At the same time, Apple could spearhead a movement to broad availability of wireless charging by offering such capabilities on the new iPads as it has done with many other technologies including USB, firewire, and thunderbolt (a.k.a. Light Peak).
Multi-factor authentication options -- This is both a hardware and an iOS issue. Although Thursby has partnered with other companies like Juniper and Acronis to deliver smartcard support for iOS devices, the form factor and app model of iOS device has limited its integration potential beyond a handful of apps. Some vendors, including Dropbox and Google, offer a form of two-factor authentication, but those are largely consumer-oriented solutions and they're linked to specific apps.
The only way that true multi-factor authentication can be used to to unlock an iPad and/or access all data is if Apple delivers the solution. Providing that level of security would be a major game changer in some industries like defense, finance, or healthcare, and give Apple a competitive advantage. Touch ID could be a step in the right direction even though it currently functions as just a passcode shortcut. Other options include security tokens, smartcards, location based access systems, and other biometric options like facial recognition and iris scanning.
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