What enterprise IT needs to know about iPhone 4

In his WWDC 2010 keynote, Steve Jobs cited "much deeper enterprise integration" as one of the major improvements in Apple's iPhone 4. Learn why.

In his WWDC 2010 keynote announcing the iPhone 4, Steve Jobs cited "much deeper enterprise integration" as one of the top features of Apple's fourth generation smartphone. Jobs took several minutes to talk about the improvements aimed at businesses.

Here's the slide Jobs showed when he talked about the enterprise.

And, here's what Jobs said during his presentation:

"We got a lot of requests, and our enterprise customers are thrilled because we got all of that stuff into iOS 4—much better data protection, device management, they can wirelessly distribute apps around the enterprise, multiple Exchange [account] support, deeper VPN support. Our enterprise customers seem really, really excited about iOS 4."

After the event, Apple provided more details about the enterprise improvements with iPhone 4. Here are quotes from Apple on each of the issues:

  • Data protection - "New data protection APIs can be used for custom and commercial apps so that business-critical information is protected even if a device is compromised."
  • Mobile device management - "New Mobile Device Management APIs can be integrated with third-party solutions to wirelessly configure and update settings, monitor compliance with corporate policies, and even wipe or lock managed iPhone devices."
  • Wireless app distribution - "Securely host and wirelessly distribute in-house apps to employees over Wi-Fi and 3G. Apps can be updated without requiring users to connect to their computers."
  • SSL VPN support - "Connect seamlessly to a corporate network via VPN on Demand. Forthcoming apps from Juniper and Cisco will support SSL VPN on iPhone."
  • Mail improvements - "Set up multiple Exchange ActiveSync accounts and now works with Exchange Server 2010. With the new unified inbox feature, users can see messages from all their email accounts conveniently displayed in a single inbox... If users receive an attachment that they want to save or edit, Mail now lets you open attachments with compatible apps from the App Store."

Beyond the features that Apple cited, there are a few other iPhone 4 upgrades that could also impact businesses:

  • Better battery life - This is critical. The iPhone needs to be able to get through a full business day without a recharge in order to be the device for true road warriors, and that's not always the case with the iPhone 3GS and previous models. Apple has made improvements, but will it be enough? Check out my article iPhone 4 battery life: How much is Apple promising?
  • Multitasking - Being able to quickly flip between email and Web pages or between an IM conversation and a business dashboard app are examples of the kind of multitasking functionality that business users want. The iPhone 4 finally catches up to Android and Palm Pre in this department.
  • Tethering - This feature is big for highly mobile professionals. Tethering has been available in other countries, but it's finally coming to the U.S. for the first time now that AT&T is on board. However, AT&T's new data plans could limit its usefulness.
  • Improved camera - In some industries such as real estate, the phone camera is a critical business feature. Apple has added a digital zoom, LED flash, and upped the megapixels from 3 to 5.

For those enterprises approaching the iPhone for the first time, here are three Apple links that haven't been fully updated for iPhone 4 yet, but can still help IT pros in evaluating whether the iPhone will meet their needs.

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Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.

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