iOS

Apple's WWDC news: Four things that stand out for business users

Erik Eckel picks out the four things from this week's WWDC that he thinks will have the most impact on business users and explains why.

Despite all the energy and rumors surrounding this week's Apple announcements, the ultimate resulting facts were disappointing. The market wasn't very happy with the Worldwide Developers Conference news, certainly, with the company's stock dropping four points at 1PM (EDT) when the announcements were made. While Apple did introduce important new initiatives, many of the innovations-iTunes improvements, the introduction of a Camera button within iOS 5, etc.-just don't impact businesses using Macs. But a few items did jump out at me. Here are the four WWDC 2011 announcements that I believe will impact business users most.

Built-in App Store inside Mac OS X Lion

I've said before that the inclusion of the App Store within Mac OS X Lion is going to change the way users download, update, and maintain applications on their computers. Some readers suggested the feature wasn't important, but news emanating from Windows 8 beta tests suggest Microsoft is working to include an application store within the next version of the PC client operating system.

With the App Store integrated within Lion, business users are going to find it easier to research, purchase, obtain, update, and restore commonly used software programs. It's a subtle distinction, but one that's going to favor software developers while removing supply chain and distribution hurdles.

Notifications Center debuts in iOS 5

Everyone lives hectic lives now, bouncing from meeting to meeting and from office to office, constantly transacting business on the go. I've closed deals sitting at a stoplight using a combination of Tweets, IMs, texts, Facebook messages, and emails. Chances are you have, too.

One thing the iPhone hasn't done well is collect myriad notifications and alerts within a single console. Instead users are subjected to intermittent alerts that must be dismissed individually sometimes from within separate apps. Worse, sometimes quick-thumbed users accidentally dismiss all alerts with a single random swipe. That changes with iOS 5, which introduces the Notifications Center. Accessible at any time from any app, Notifications Center helps organize peripatetic business users' lives by collecting alerts by app and timestamping them within a single view.

iOS 5 Mail improvements

The rich-text improvements to be introduced with iOS 5's Mail app are overdue. Flagging messages, long ago widely popularized on Gmail, is an important new feature, too. But rich-text support within Mail, which enables adding bolded, underlined, and italicized text, is likely the most welcome addition for business users that must send professional, legible email messages. And indenting support should have been available from the start.

iCloud sync services

At first glance iCloud looks to be a consumer offering, a simple Web-based service for storing and updating music and photos. But iCloud also stores email, calendars, contacts, documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Oh, and 5 gigabytes of storage is free (and purchased music, apps and books don't count against the storage total). And, iCloud pushes data between iPads, iPhones, iPods, Macs, and PCs.

That's a pretty compelling combination for business users that constantly juggle the use of all these myriad devices. Since device settings, apps, app data, photos, videos, text messages, documents, spreadsheets and presentations and other data are automatically backed up to iCloud, recovering from a failed device becomes a much easier proposition for business users, too.

About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

9 comments
tetzuo
tetzuo

I agree having the app store and iTunes an in enterprise environment is not a wise idea iTunes will chew through most companys internet allowance/bandwith then you can have issues with storage space etc.. The app store, In a large enterprise environment you never give the end user admin rights to his/her machine. Apple really need to have a look at our their OS can work within a enterprise environment . Yes they are not really targeting those customers but I'm sure there is money to be made.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... since deployment can be much quicker and more efficient--saving the corporation money. The apparent size of this upgrade also seems to be designed for speed and efficiency; on a per-desktop basis it looks like ten to fifteen minutes max. The App Store, too, can be locked down, requiring an Admin password to even access a corporate account by simply giving the user a non-admin account for his work purposes. The App Store might then be accessible, but not with the corporate account and the user would have to pay for their own additions--if any. That said, I'm sure corporate usage would be somewhat different from the consumers' usage, though I believe it will be a lot easier than what IT has to go through now.

tommyboy21
tommyboy21

One concern I have towards the upgrade to Lion is backing up clients. With Versions keeping changes to files, I wonder how this will affect our backup procedures. Also, I hope they have added mass delete or mass "Mark as Read" of e-mail messages in iOS. All in all, there seems like some nice updates coming. Just a few lingering questions as to how this all affects business users.

Erik Eckel
Erik Eckel

JWindmiller, that's a good point. Most of the Mac environments my consultancy supports typically won't have that problem, though. They're smaller shops that usually don't even have an IT professional on staff.

Lorraine.Eastman
Lorraine.Eastman

As soon as we heard that Lion was going to be deployed through the app store I contacted our Apple rep trying to figure out how were were going to handle it. They don't know . . . They are trying to figure out how they are going to deal with their corporate clients. This could be a real mess!\ for us!

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... by the time Lion comes out. I expect it will be a lot easier than you think since if you're already running Snow Leopard the Mac App Store is already available and all you'll need is a corporate account.

jwindmiller
jwindmiller like.author.displayName 1 Like

Although the App Store provides opportunity for business users to discover new software it also poses an issue of deploying software that needs to be purchased at corporation level. For those companies that don't desire to implement a corporate itunes account tied to a corporate card makes it difficult to deploy Lion specifically.

crblev
crblev

I wouldn't think the app store to be optimal for enterprise deployment and software management, especially when ARD and other tools allow for mass deployment/workstation management. Lastly, I would be very concerned about providing a single company iTunes account tied to a card with the end-users unless you're a very small shop. Individual users with individual company account, perhaps...

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

While I could agree with your sentiments if Apple's App Store were the only means of deploying software, corporations are already using their own development licenses to deploy custom software to iPhones and iPads within their environments; it's not that much of a stretch to assume a similar capability for the Mac App Store. It is also already possible to push apps, policies and files to Macs in a mixed environment as easily and sometimes with the same software they use to perform these same duties on Windows machines. The App Store environment simply makes it easier to do so.

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