iPhone

With these two features I hereby declare the iPhone (almost) enterprise-worthy

With the release of the beta of the iPhone 3.0 OS, Apple has included two features that massively improve the iPhone enterprise creds. Scott Lowe risks bricking his iPhone so that he can bring you the details.

A couple of weeks ago, I took the plunge... after reading a whole lot of blog postings about the horrors that awaited, I bought an Apple developer account and upgraded my iPhone to iPhone OS 3.0 beta 1, which was, thankfully, followed very quickly by beta 2 and for which beta 3 is now available.  I frequently test beta software but rarely do so using devices upon which I rely heavily.  In this case, however, I jumped on the bandwagon and, for the most part, I'm glad I did.

I've written previously about what I considered to be some serious shortcomings in versions of the iPhone OS prior to version 3.  With version 3 of the software, it looks like Apple has understood that the iPhone has a rightful place in the enterprise and they're taking steps to correct some of the deficiencies.  To be certain, they've not corrected all of the iPhone's shortcomings, but what they have corrected was really needed.  A lot of people are excited that Apple has finally added copy and paste to the iPhone.  I am as well, but it's not huge on my list.

Here are the two features I'm most excited to see in the new software and the features that I felt were truly necessary in order to help the iPhone make its way into the enterprise.

Landscape keyboard. FINALLY!  This is, by FAR, the feature I'm most excited about in the new operating system.  It might seem like a little thing, but for someone with inhumanly large hands, the landscape keyboard is better than sliced bread.  When I composed e-mail messages previously, it was an exercise in frustration because I was constantly hitting the wrong keys.  Now, I can type away with a very low error rate.  In fact, the other day, while I was waiting in line to see my tax guy, I actually composed an entire blog entry on my iPhone just to see how it would go.  While I wouldn't recommend writing a book on the iPhone, the landscape keyboard is a joy. Server search for e-mail.  One of the main reasons I carry this device is so that I have access to my e-mail.  One feature I missed greatly when I made the switch from Windows Mobile to the iPhone was the ability to search the server for messages older than the ones cached on the device.  With version 3 of the operating system, this feature has been added.

This is far, far from a complete list of features that have been added to iPhone OS 3.0 with many other important features being added that, while necessary and good, don't necessarily help the iPhone make inroads in Blackberry-land.  Obviously, not everything is rosy when you run beta software and I've run into my share of stability and latency problems, but the ability to actually type on the device and to search my e-mail has been well worth the experience. These two features alone don't get the iPhone quite all the way into what has been traditionally a Blackberry and Windows Mobile market (hence "almost" in the title), but they certainly are leaps and bounds ahead of where we were just a few weeks ago.

About

Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive w...

12 comments
ratslaw
ratslaw

Let me guess, are you easily distracted by shiny new objects too?? I think if these are the 2 features that you think make this "almost enterprise ready" than you really haven't immersed yourself in what an "enterprise capable" device should do. The iPhone still doesn't hold a candle to being as secure as the Blackberry or even WiMo 6.1. It can't be fully integrated with Exchange Server and relies more heavily on cloud computing than internal administering of accounts. iPhone still has a ways to go, other than simply adding some cool new features that other touch screen WiMO phones already are capable of doing.

tpham
tpham

Wow that landscape does seem to be worth it, not to mention the ability to search for old emails would be helpful to those that always need to look back at old emails, not to say you should use pst files as well. Thumbs up for the big hand.HAHAHA.

wolters
wolters

I really need remote desktop and VPN into Microsoft networks. Can the iPhone do that?

Dale Cook
Dale Cook

VPN is already built into the current firmware. I use it and JAADU to RDP to my windows servers all the time.

randy_scadden
randy_scadden

The VPN on the iPhone works like a champ. It was kind of funny a few weeks ago we where out to lunch with the CFO and the controller and had to reboot the accounting server. So my boss fires up the VPN RDP's into the server and reboots the server while we where waiting to get our lunch. There is an app called RDP Lite and it's just a RDP client for the iPhone that works really well.

randy_scadden
randy_scadden

Plus on top of that I actually like the RDP functionality on my iPhone far better than anything I had on a WinMo phone. It's a lot more desktop albeit remote desktop like then anything I've done on my old Tilt. It's like I've told everyone once you go iPhone you'll never go back.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I've been able to save a lot of miles and time doing that exact same thing. I even use LogMeIn if need be to rescue a client's PC. That's only possible IMO with the iPhone because of the great browser.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

You did not mention that 3.0 was to add the ability to multitask applications. In addition if Apple updates the physical phone to use 802.11n as hinted at, I have absolutely no problem with buying the new phone outright. Those two improvements alone place it light years ahead of other options. Pure and simple, the iPhone has increased my productivity enough to justify it. Besides it's fun to use and has the best browser, period.

Scott Lowe
Scott Lowe

Also, when the iPhone 3.0 hardware comes out, I, like you, WILL have one in my hands. Wireless N and possible major screen resolution improvements will be huge.

smartcd
smartcd

Ahem. Don't forget that we still don't have synchronized Tasks, Notes, or fully functional Calendars. While Apple gadgets remain the funnest, they sure aren't enterprise-ready

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

The fun factor is huge. I even have used my iPhone as a decibel meter and a level. It's quite amazing.

Scott Lowe
Scott Lowe

Michael, From a pure user experience perspective and when focused on using the iPhone as a direct replacement for a Windows Mobile device or Blackberry, I don't find multitasking to be as important as the two improvements I listed. That's not to say that multitasking isn't important, but it doesn't rise to the direct improvement of the everyday user experience, in my opinion. We rolled iPhones to our college president and a couple of VPs. I can safely say that the landscape keyboard and email search features will mean a lot more to them as everyday users. Scott

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