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Apple iOS 8: What you need to know

Learn about the new features available on Apple iOS 8 and how enterprises can make the most of them.

Overview

Mobile devices are rapidly becoming the professional tool of choice for Australian workers, and IT administrators are finding themselves paying closer attention to mobile operating system (OS) updates. Few are more anxiously anticipated than those of Apple’s iOS.

Only months after its last update, Apple’s iOS 8 presents a host of new features that will once again redefine how consumers and enterprises use iOS devices. Based on our initial hands-on experience, we believe this is the most fundamental update to iOS for enterprises and developers to date. Organisations will need a clear strategy to get the most out of the changes.

Background

iOS 8 marks a significant change in Apple’s approach to the platform. It opens up new capabilities for developers and allows smoother development of existing functionalities across applications.

For example, iOS 8 introduces a range of productivity enhancements, including an adaptive user interface for better usability across different device screens. It also introduces geo-location improvements for more accurate indoor location mapping, allowing enterprises to market to in-store shoppers more effectively.

Feature enhancements include Handoff—part of Apple’s Continuity feature set—which allows for more seamless integration between devices, and Extensions, which allows integration between applications. The update also introduces interactive notifications, which may improve engagement by keeping users up-to-date when not in your application.

Analysis

The launch of iOS 8 will introduce a range of updates that are likely to be welcomed by enterprises using applications to connect with staff and customers. For example:

  • New mobile device management (MDM) tools allow administrators to monitor iCloud.

  • Touch ID authentication enables administrators to establish new levels of granular personal security with biometric fingerprinting at the app level.

  • iOS 8 introduces a number of features that will improve employee productivity. The update has made virtual private network (VPN) connections more practical.

  • TestFlight Integration now allows developers to more easily distribute beta apps to employees via the cloud for crowd testing.

The cumulative impact of these changes is to make the platform easier to develop on, easier to secure and more ready to support enterprise deployments.

Recommendations

The launch of iOS 8 presents many opportunities for more efficient application development and operation. If your company is yet to adapt to Apple’s changes, now is the time to act. We suggest following six key steps when modifying apps for Apple’s new operating system:

  1. Examine each new feature offered in the iOS 8 update and identify those that could make life easier for your developers, employees and customers.

  2. Train your development team to account for the new features and languages, or engage a development team with the requisite skills.

  3. Review the functionality, codes and features of current applications to determine whether the iOS 8 updates present any obstacles to use. Also run regression tests to ensure your existing apps continue to work on relevant devices and systems after upgrading.

  4. Embark on a planning and design phase to harness new features and identify fixes found during regression testing.

  5. Run through an interactive cycle of building and testing new applications to adapt to the changes and ensure the best user experience possible for new features.

  6. Release your updated applications to the market and promote the benefits of the upgrade to allow users to get more out of your app and your organisation.