iOS

Three iOS 6 features to please business users

Erik Eckel talks about the new messaging options, email features, and iCloud improvements that he thinks will improve the experience of business users.

Despite years of innovation, development and inventive evolution, mismatches continue between the functionality that business users desire and the product features manufacturers deliver. In other words, although manufacturers have had years to develop products that do the things businesses want, many products still fail to fulfill all commercial needs.

Apple iPhones and iPads, while incredibly capable devices, still don't function perfectly or perform all the tasks businesses wish. Fortunately, with the announcement of new iOS 6 features, the gap is narrowing.

Messaging improvements

Seemingly, everyone's been there. You're caught in a meeting, rushing between appointments, or conversing with another when a call comes in. Wouldn't it be nice, with a simple and innocuous gesture or two, to let the caller know you're tied up (without overly offending the colleague or party with whom you're currently meeting)?

iOS 6 users will be able to do so using their iPhones. When declining an incoming call in iOS 6, users can instantly reply with a text message or at least set a callback reminder. While users can set a do-not-disturb-mode, many professionals will find the ability to send a quick note (such as "I'll call you later" or "I'm on my way") or a custom message more than handy. The ability to set custom quick reply messages ("In a meeting, will call right back") should help harried users ensure they're not infuriating their boss or an important client by not answering a call the moment it comes in. Such quick text replies enable fast response, improve communication, and ultimately lower stress.

VIP Inbox

Email has become a mission critical tool. The only problem is it's becoming tougher for many business professionals to locate critical emails within volumes of less important messages. This is especially important when they are on the go, working only with the assistance of mobile devices. iOS 6 introduces VIP smart mailbox functionality enabling users to create VIP inboxes that ensure critically earmarked messages are directed to a single, easy-to-view location.

iCloud Tabs

Over time I've tested a combination of strategies to consolidate and synchronize bookmarks between all the devices I use for business. All methods suffered drawbacks making it difficult to maintain an updated list of trouble ticket, cloud-based application, Web and other addresses. Never did I hold out hope for starting a session on one computer only to pick up where I left off when changing devices (as often happens when switching from a mobile phone to a tablet computer to a laptop or desktop).

Apple is addressing browser session synchronization in iOS 6 with the introduction of iCloud Tabs. Now professionals such as myself who constantly juggle numerous devices will find they can begin browsing the Web on one device using Safari, switch to another device running Safari, and continue reading the Web page right where they left off on the other device.

This is a subtle innovation but one that will make quite a difference. I've lost track of the number of times I've had to re-locate a link and find the spot where I stopped reading on another device (when reviewing licensing requirements, reading technical specifications, reviewing a troubleshooting piece, etc.). With iOS 6, the issue is eliminated.

But you may need new hardware...

While iOS 6 continues to make improvements, the OS isn't going to prove a panacea. Issues will remain. For starters, VIP mail will only be available to users of iPhone 4 or later handsets and iPad 2 and later tablet users. The new iOS itself will only prove compatible on iPhone 3GS and later iPhones, 4th generation iPod Touches, and iPad 2 and newer tablets. Professional users still wielding the original iPad, such as myself, will find themselves out of luck and be forced to upgrade hardware in order to benefit from these and other iOS 6 innovations.

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...

12 comments
keshar.hayat
keshar.hayat

totally disappointing. It looks like google map used to be 6 years ago.

learn4ever
learn4ever

... between the two I'm good, but alas no Firefox on iPhone yet. :-\

anil_g
anil_g like.author.displayName 1 Like

Firefox has had tab synch for ages.

khonhe
khonhe

Finance is a passion of mine, but for many people, finance is simply gibberish. They just do not get it. When I look at popular university textbooks, I can understand why people do not get it. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of pages with formulas, Cool Gadgets, graphs, theories, models, exceptions and examples. Unless you become a banker or a finance manager, most of these details are not relevant.

rhonin
rhonin

You're right. I don't get it. But if I have a question regarding MS Excel functionality, corporate Finance folks are the first place I go! My hat is off to you. I'll stick to engineering.

rhonin
rhonin

We are seeing more and more, large scale and security minded businesses are steering away from iCloud interaction. The iCloud is an unknown from a security perspective. Apple has given no clue as to what is actually brought to their servers, what is stored there nor their method for handling this data. My company (Fortune 50) is in the process of instituting such a security lock-down and is part what appears to be a growing trend. My advice: Use at your own risk.

anil_g
anil_g

There are a number of cloud storage / sharing providers, I believe iCloud is relatively new. My perception is that security is the single main inhibitor for use. I wouldn't use a cloud service even for my home finance data without adding my own encryption on top. I thought iCloud was mainly targeted at domestic use (to replace me.com) and doesn't nearly start to compete with clearly business oriented services like box.net.

janitorman
janitorman like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

I don't use an i-Anything, and think they're just toys. What's more, having a mobile "device" that does anything other than allow me to call home is pointless. Yet, "business use" seems to cover it... IF you consider "business" to be something other than REAL working people, mechanics, carpenters, plumbers, etc. who are the backbone of America, and seriously don't need these toys. Apparently American "business" is now bankers, lawyers, and reporters. How sad.

nwallette
nwallette

If you had an iPhone, you could read articles that are obviously not relevant to you from ANYwhere! AND, you could reply with your one-sided viewpoints from the comfort of your client's master suite throne. Now that's progress! But hey, I'll bite. Mr. Carpenter decides to get an iPhone. Now, if there's a home-office with someone taking calls, he can exchange email, texts, or IMs with the receptionist. His calendar can be right there in his pocket, so he knows where his appointment is, and how much time has been allocated before the next after that. If he doesn't recognize the address, he can use Maps to find it. He can take notes that are synchronized with an office computer, even securely collect credit card payment with a magnetic swipe module plugged into the phone's data port. Some banks will let you deposit a check by taking a picture of it. Most of this is still possible The Old Way, with pen and paper. But if you learn how to take advantage of a handheld computer with anywhere connectivity, the efficiency gain is substantial. Here's another scenario: With an iPad, you can view 3D models of proposed work (new deck or closet) with your client, or show product literature (catalogs, etc.) without having to lug a huge binder around. You could do this with a laptop, sure, but the instant-on and (again) mobile Internet access make it much more convenient. Which means, you're more likely to use it. I had a real-estate broker do something like this, and my general impression afterwards was that the guy had his stuff together. So yes, even the blue-collar worker can benefit. BTW, your one requirement for a phone is to make calls to a single location, yet you think the iPhone is a toy... You do realize, it has that capability, right?

inouyde
inouyde

Granted, the average workingman/workingwoman doesn't need all the smartphone features, but just because we work in an office doesn't mean we're not contributing to America as much as you folks are.

rhonin
rhonin

I have hit Home Depot on line to ensure the materials I needed were there and available for pickup. And ordering delivery lunch for the crew when visiting a job site. :)

reggaethecat
reggaethecat like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

You're obviously living in the last century. Not everyone needs a fancy phone but many now do. I don't see why that is 'sad'.

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