Software

iPhone X, iOS 11, and more of Apple's most important releases for business users in 2017

A Mac expert looks back at Apple's key hardware and software offerings in 2017 and explores the benefits each release offers enterprise users.

As this year draws to a close, it's a good time for reflection. With that in mind, I consider how Apple's offerings in 2017 could benefit business users.

SEE: New equipment budget policy (Tech Pro Research)

iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X

Apple's biggest earner—the iPhone—was the focus of three new devices in 2017. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus were released along with the iPhone X, Apple's next-generation device commemorating the 10th anniversary of the iPhone's release in 2007.

The iPhone 8 in its standard and Plus configuration have very similar specs. Both devices feature nearly identical hardware, except for the dual-cameras, except the Plus model has a larger 5.5" screen and slightly larger resolution.

The iPhone X also sports similar innards to both iPhone 8 models, except for the lack of Touch ID, which has been replaced by Apple's new Face ID technology; Face ID maps your face using sensors built-in to the notch on the iPhone X to allow for a newer form of biometric security. Among the bells and whistles found only in the iPhone X, the 5.8" OLED and almost bezel-less screen sports an energy-efficient screen that's capable of 2K resolution and is wrapped in surgical-grade steel in a throwback to the first iPhone.

A new feature that is available on all three devices is wireless charging via Qi-enabled sensors—the all-glass backing helps to maximize current throughout. Speaking of fast charges, Apple has finally embraced fast charger (also known as turbo charging for some Android devices), which allows for the device to regain about 50% of the battery life on just a 30-minute charge.

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CNET's Scott Stein tested Face ID extensively.

Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

iPad Pro 10.5" and 12.9"

Expanding upon the iPad's popularity as a do-just-about-anything device, the iPad Pro packs faster hardware and optimizes applications to squeeze every bit of performance from it. The iPad Pro also includes larger screen sizes and a full keyboard, making it a true productivity device.

While adding hardware can sometimes add to the size and weight of a device, Apple has been careful to not affect either of these in its new iPad Pro models by keeping the devices at under 2 pounds. For the first time, there's an iPad Pro 10.5" and an iPad Pro 12.9" model to choose from—both of which include updated processors, overhauled graphics, and feature a battery capable of holding a 10-hour charge.

SEE: Reducing the risks of BYOD in the enterprise (PDF) TechRepublic)

Rounding out the iPad Pro's features, Apple has seen fit to include mainstays to its growing popularity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi access, optional Cellular Broadband LTE access, on-board storage of 64, 128, or 256 GB, 12-megapixel camera (rear) and 7-megapixel camera (front). Of course, no tablet would be complete without a stylus—in this case that's the optional Apple Pencil, which adds another level of touch, writing, and drawing with its pressure-sensitive sensors.

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Image: Apple, Inc.

iMac Pro

The venerable iMac is arguably the workhorse of the desktop line, and the most mainstream device found in businesses of all types and sizes. While the iMac has gone through slight aesthetic revisions throughout the years, the hardware has largely remained stagnant... until December 2017 when the first iMac Pro is released.

Adopting more than just the Pro monicker, the iMac Pro's real strength lies under the hood of the Space Grey All-in-One all aluminum shell, beginning with an 8, 10, or 18-core Xeon processor, and Radeon Pro Vega GPU with 8 GB or 16 GB High Bandwidth Memory. Entry-level models come standard with 32 GB of DDR4 ECC RAM and can scale to 128 GB to target even the largest projects. Storage duties are performed by either 1 TB, 2 TB, or 4 TB SSDs capable of 3GB/s (that's gigabytes per second, not gigabits), and four USB-C (Thunderbolt 3) ports capable of 40Gbps transfers, or powering unto four 4K monitors at once.

Also standard on the iMac Pro is the inclusion of 10GbE or 10 gigabit ethernet (when using a Cat6A network cable and network switch capable of 10Gb speeds) to make network data transfers blindingly fast. All of this is mated to a built-in 27" 5K Retina Monitor that is capable of displaying over one billion colors, while packing 14.7 million pixels for incredibly bright, lifelike images.

iOS 11

"A giant step for iPhone. A monumental leap for iPad." This is Apple's tagline for the newest release of iOS.

With iOS 11, Apple continues to expand on the capabilities present in the mobile operating system, allowing users to do more with its mix of added functionality for applications to take advantage of, cross-platform integration, and multitasking features baked right in.

The new Files app finally brings a unified file manager to iOS devices whereby users can have instant access to all their files from one dashboard, including locally installed apps and cloud-based services. iPads gain some extra productivity muscle a la multitasking by way of Split View for viewing two apps at once, or the Dock (similar to its macOS big brother) to open and switch apps instantly without changing screens.

Messages has been streamlined with a redesigned app drawer that contains on-screen access to all the integrated apps with less effort.

And speaking of performing tasks easier, the underrated Automatic Setup feature is a major boon for users upgrading to a new iPhone or iPad this holiday, as much of the initial setup can be skipped simply by holding your old device nearby as iOS 11 automatically detects the older device and securely imports your settings, preferences, and content after authenticating your Apple ID, allowing you to be up and running on your new device in no time flat.

SEE: New to iOS 11? Change these privacy and security settings right now (ZDNet)

macOS High Sierra

In keeping with Apple's yearly upgrade cycle for operating systems, macOS High Sierra (10.13) marks this year's entry for its desktop and laptop line of computers. Among the biggest changes is the Apple File System (APFS) serving as the default file system for better data management and security, while being designed from the ground up with modern storage capabilities in mind, such as onboard SSDs.

Video support, and to a greater degree the HEVC standard or H.265, allows for better compression while preserving the high visual quality of 4K video. Speaking of video and graphics, Apple's framework for providing high-quality gaming experiences, VR technology, and powering GPU-intensive apps used for entertainment and by professional creatives (Metal 2) has seen a significant overhaul.

Staple apps such as Safari, Photos, and Mail have all received updates and enhancements to their respective foundations, adding new features, functionality, and further integrating with iOS. Siri has also picked up new tricks, as the virtual assistant evolves its capabilities to provide better support—including being your own personal DJ!

Also see

Have you deployed any of these technologies in your enterprise? If so, what advice do you have for users wishing to implement any of these technologies in their organization? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

About Jesus Vigo

Jesus Vigo is a Network Administrator by day and owner of Mac|Jesus, LLC, specializing in Mac and Windows integration and providing solutions to small- and medium-size businesses. He brings 19 years of experience and multiple certifications from seve...

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