IT | Security

WWDC 2014 – iOS and OS X features that boost both security and productivity

By: Absolute Team | 6/9/2014

With every Apple event, there is a huge amount of social chatter and analysis surrounding the upcoming release, building hype around the new features we can expect to see on our devices in the coming months.

While wearing my IT administrator and end-user hats, here’s my take.

This year’s WWDC announcements were labelled ‘the biggest release since the launch of the app store’, and, although this claim might be a little inflated, iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite certainly have the potential to shift the landscape for developers and administrators.

With the new management, productivity, and security features as well as the interoperability between OS X and iOS, IT can expect to see increased configuration options along with more features to enable employee productivity. Despite these benefits, a host of new services elevate the temptation for ‘Shadow IT’, or BYOC (Bring your Own Cloud) so enterprise IT should take note of these key features and any potential impact:

  • iCloud Drive – a major play by Apple against Dropbox and Google Drive which builds upon the iCloud document storage and syncing capabilities to add file storage. Support is across Mac, iOS, and Windows devices. On the mobile side iCloud integration will be extended to third party enterprise file share apps, along with new document control APIs - a great addition for mobile content management.
  • Hand-off – a new communications framework that allows users to continue working on a document and switch between a Mac and iOS device with a single tap. This feature is only compatible with iWork applications synced through iCloud. This definitely brings productivity benefits for users but is a challenge for IT since the iCloud account syncing the corporate data will usually belong to the employee.
  • Messaging and calendar improvements –the ability to set out of office notifications from an iOS device - finally! Something simple that has been a major pain for me in the past (since I’m always on vacationJ). Calendar appointments now show attendee scheduling information (e.g. busy/free) and per-message S/MIME functionality has been added, a relevant feature for customers in regulated verticals that use S/MIME encryption.
  • 4000 new enterprise app APIs – including ‘extensibility’, a new development framework for inter-app communication. This will encourage more interaction and data sharing between apps.
  • New device queries – including the last time a device was backed up to iCloud, useful information when deciding between wiping only the enterprise data or the entire device.
  • Device Enrollment Program support – a feature Absolute Manage has supported since its release earlier this year. iOS 8 will complete this loop by adding device restrictions such as removing the ability to reset devices. A great addition that ensures devices will remain under management.
  • Peer-to-peer connection for AirPlay – another much needed enhancement, especially in Education or environments with complex networks that previously had issues connecting to Apple TVs.

From an end-user standpoint, the features I really want to get my hands on are the Apple health data app (originally named Healthkit) and the Homekit development platform. These features may indicate a future direction for Apple as they look to position their devices as a hub for numerous data sources, including wearables and other smart devices.

The expansion of the Apple Touch ID will allow third party apps to use biometric authentication, which opens up lots of potential for financial payment apps.

iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite bring a combination of longstanding feature requests from IT administrators and end users – likely ramping up BYOD programs across many different organizations as people fall in love with their Apple devices all over again. It seems the upcoming release of Absolute Manage 6.5 will be right on time, providing Absolute customers with easy BYOD enrollment for every form factor including any Apple device (iPhone, iPad, Macs).

Find out more about Absolute Manage and stay tuned for future announcements on release dates and Absolute Manage support for OS X Yosemite and iOS 8.