Businesses and organizations leveraging Apple technologies recently received important news. Apple announced awaited OS X and iOS updates during its WWDC event, and Microsoft surprised many by introducing Microsoft Office for iPhone users. As always, the devil's in the details.
Microsoft Office for iPhone
On Friday, June 14, Microsoft released Office for iPhone in Apple's iTunes Store. Analysts, investors, and customers had long been awaiting the move, believing Microsoft was leaving hordes of cash on the table by refusing to provide Office for iOS users.
But there's a catch. The application's full name is Office Mobile for Office 365 subscribers. Users must possess an Office 365 subscription to use the mobile app.
Regardless, businesses will rejoice. For many, there will no longer be a need to leverage a third-party app to enable viewing and editing common Office files-including Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations-on portable Apple devices. I suspect many iOS users will create Office 365 accounts solely to access Office on their iPads and iPhones.
Microsoft lists the 58MB app as proving compatible with the following: iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (5th generation), iPad (3rd generation), iPad Wi-Fi + 4G, iPad (4th generation), iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular (4th generation), iPad mini and iPad mini Wi-Fi + Cellular. Microsoft notes the application requires iOS 6.1 or later and that it is optimized for iPhone 5.
iPhone and iPad users will soon receive an awaited update to iOS. At its WWDC event, Apple announced iOS 7, which will introduce an aggressive redesign of the entire iOS interface. The refresh significantly changes the look and feel of the interface, colors, icons, buttons, and overall look and feel, adding even some animated graphics for common apps such as weather.
In addition to the fresh look and feel, businesses loading iOS 7 will benefit from a new Control Center, which makes commonly accessed settings even easier to reach. The new quick access settings console, accessed by swiping from the bottom of the device, adds one-tap selections for changing operations modes, brightness adjustments, music player controls, AirDrop (now for iOS) and AirPlay access, the camera, and more.
iOS 7 also benefits from multitasking improvements. The new release will learn when users use specific apps and update those apps' content before the user launches the app. Multitasking improvements also assist the new release in updating devices during optimum times, such as when the device is on and connected to Wi-Fi.
Due in fall, iOS 7 will prove compatible for iPhone 4 and later iPhones and iPad 2 and later tablets. The release will also work with fifth-generation iPod Touches.
Mac OS X Mavericks
Innovations within OS X Mavericks, the new release due in the fall for Apple's OS X operating system, were less substantial. Apple played up new features like iBooks integration, Maps inclusion, continuous Calendar scrolling, improved Safari performance, new tag support to better enable finding files, and a new iCloud Keychain for storing passwords and credit card information. However, I believe business users will find the following two new features most helpful.
First, Apple added tab support for the Finder. Users can maintain separate tabs for documents, network files, and more. Being able to track multiple locations leveraging separate tabs within the OS X Finder will eliminate the need to open multiple Finder windows and simplify desktop interaction.
Second, OS X Mavericks provides better support and more flexibility for business users possessing multiple displays. Primary and secondary displays are a thing of the past. Each display now receives its own menu bar, and the Dock becomes accessible from all displays. Users also receive the flexibility now of having one display configured to working with windows in regular mode and setting an app to work in full-screen mode on a second display. The flexibility will prove not only convenient but more efficient for business users constantly juggling multiple windows within multiple displays.
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 of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.