Apple has introduced a range of interesting enhancements for iOS and Mac administrators in the recently introduced iOS 14, including new mobile device management (MDM) APIs and usability improvements.
The simple (but good) things
One of the better improvements is the introduction of elections. iPhone and iPad users can now choose which browser and / or email app they want to use. While Safari is very secure (and more secure in recent OS iterations), the real beauty of this enhancement is in email, as companies built around the use of Microsoft Office will now be able to standardize the use of Outlook on their corporate mobile devices. The process is quite simple: Install the app you want to use and set it as default in application settings on the device.
Privacy is also enhanced with a recording indicator that appears when an app has access to the microphone or camera
Improvements to MDM
In a slightly deeper tone, Apple has signaled the importance of enterprise IT with its recent Fleetsmith acquisition and has reinforced this message with a number of useful APIs in the latest (or upcoming) operating systems MDM developers can take advantage of.
Jason Wudi, CTO, Jamf, announced same-day support for iOS 1
Microsoft Intune also delivers new functionality along with iOS / macOS. “Microsoft Intune is pleased to support Apple in the launch of iOS 14, iPadOS 14 and watchOS 7,” the company said. “We’re excited to deliver new functionality with Apple’s launch.” You can read more about this at Microsoft here.
The new APIs provide useful improvements.
Better control of the installation processs while activating the device. One of the main steps here is that administrators can accelerate the process by skipping unnecessary steps. For example, if employees do not use an Apple Watch, there is no need to work through or interrupt the installation steps of the device.
Apple’s decision to ta Shared iPad out of the classroom and into the business will also pay dividends. This means that administrators can create configurations on user-level shared devices. They should also see the number of users configured on a single device in their administration console, provided that the users reside on these devices.
Apple has too enhanced VPN configuration. In this case, it means that administrators can configure systems with VPN settings for specific and default apps. They can also specify which apps and domains can use VPN, again, this provides an extra level of control over access to business services and data.
Apple has improved managed apps so that administrators can now allow permission to allow end users to remove them from their devices if they are not required, and prohibit such removal if required.
Apple improved MDM around content caching. It is now possible to create MDM solutions that provide content caching calculations, allowing administrators to monitor usage.
Administrators can now also specify time zones and restrict randomization of MAC addresses over Wi-Fi. These improvements should help improve corporate security, especially as many companies are now exploring geolocation protection around WFH distributions in an attempt to build a border against external phishing attacks.
Apple has not released the next version of macOS, but the release builds on many enterprise enhancements that were first seen in iOS. The registration has been improved, including with monitored registration. It is now also possible to postpone updates for up to 90 days, or force update of managed devices. App administration via MDM has also been improved as described above. We can anticipate further improvements to the platform as the company gathers around Apple Silicon.
Opportunity: App clips
While not a business-focused enhancement, one of the great features of iOS 14 may prove to be app clips. These are cut down versions of the original app that provide just enough code for an iOS device to handle a single transaction. These can be useful in iOS-compatible log and entry systems, and can provide useful channels for retail, visitors, and attractions, provided we’ll ever visit sites again.
The idea is that by giving users a taste of what an app can do, it becomes easier to encourage users to install the entire app.
Let me know which of these business improvements are particularly useful in your business, or flag minor improvements that deserve a little more attention.
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