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Apple's recently launched iOS 9 is rapidly making its way onto users' iPhones and iPads. We note the key iOS 9 features for enterprises and examine how leading vendors of enterprise mobility management suites are supporting the new mobile OS.
Apple's iOS 9, now available as a free download, offers the usual collection of headline new features -- including, this time around, multitasking support on the iPad, upgrades and additions to the built-in apps (Notes, Maps, News), richer interactions with and more intelligent search from Siri, and power optimisation that, Apple claims, provides an extra hour's battery life for the average user.
Apple has always had impressive uptake rates for new versions of its mobile OS, and iOS 9 is no different. According to mobile and web analytics developer Mixpanel, 35.2 percent of monitored iOS devices were running version 9 less than a week after it became available on 16 September:
A similar figure (37.1%) is reported by another mobile analytics developer, Paddle. By contrast, Google reports just 21 percent uptake of Android 5.x (Lollipop) since it became generally available in November 2014 (10 months ago):
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Incidentally, Apple recently launched its first Android app, called Move to iOS, which does what it says on the tin, helping users of Google's mobile OS move contacts, message history, photos and videos, browser bookmarks, mail accounts and calendars over to Apple's mobile platform.
New enterprise features in iOS 9
For enterprises, there is key new security and deployment functionality in iOS 9. Security features include the ability for IT admins to disable the App Store -- a potential source of malicious software -- and distribute approved apps via an enterprise mobility management (EMM) server or the new Apple Configurator 2. Device security is tightened up in iOS 9, enabling restrictions to be placed on the usage of, for example, AirDrop wireless file transfer, the iCloud Photo Library, the pairing of an Apple Watch and screenshots/screen recording. A new Trust UI allows users to see if an app they're installing is from a trusted or untrusted developer (any app distributed via an EMM server is implicitly trusted and won't need authorising by the user). Devices with Touch ID sensors will now require users to input six-digit passcodes, two-factor authentication is also built in, while IT admins get greater control over per-app VPN configuration.
On the device/app deployment front, a streamlined Device Enrollment Program (DEP) allows multiple iOS 9 devices to be enrolled in a mobile device management (MDM) server and configured with the required policies and restrictions before deploying them to users. Device-based licensing allows IT admins to dispense with Apple IDs when installing apps -- so long as those apps are acquired via Apple's Volume Purchase Program (VPP), which is now expanded to 26 countries. User-installed apps can now be converted to IT-managed apps without the need to delete and reinstall them via an (EMM-managed) enterprise app store. Better EMM support is also provided for privately-distributed VPP business apps in the B2B App Store.
EMM vendor support
To get an idea of the resources available to IT managers from leading enterprise mobility management (EMM) vendors, we've put together the following table for the five 'leaders' in Gartner's 2015 Magic Quadrant for EMM suites:
|Vendor|| Press |
|Microsite|| White |
|AirWatch||✔︎||✔︎||✘||✔︎||✔︎||✔︎||✔︎ ✔︎ ✔︎|
|Citrix||✘||✔︎||✘||✔︎||✘||✔︎||✔︎ ✔︎ ✔︎|
VMware-owned AirWatch announced 'same-day support' for iOS 9 -- the fifth consecutive major release for which it has done so, the company claims. A good collection of resources include an AirWatch/Apple microsite and a detailed iOS page, a webinar, blogs and an infographic.
Citrix also claimed 'instant compatibility' for its XenMobile client product, although users need to upgrade to apps wrapped with MDX Toolkit 10.2 and to Worx Home 10.2 before upgrading to iOS 9. No changes are required to XenMobile Server unless self-signed certificates are in use, in which case a downloadable patch is available.
Secure container specialist Good Technology, which has recently been acquired by BlackBerry, announced 'day-one readiness' (for the third consecutive year) for all Good apps and the Good Dynamics Secure Mobility Platform, including Good Work (secure email) and Good for Enterprise (collaboration).
MaaS360 from IBM, formerly a Fibrelink product, has also been rebranded, in places, as MobileFirst Protect, although MaaS360 also retains a separate web presence. Available resources include a microsite, a webinar and a video.
MobileIron provides the widest array of iOS 9-related resources, covering the full gamut: press release, microsite, white paper, webinar, video and blog, plus a handy infographic.