Apple released its latest mobile OS upgrade this week, and already it’s been garnering a lot of buzz. New look and feel aside, Computerworld’s Ryan Faas points out the potential benefits for enterprises.
iOS 6 already has a number of key enterprise features, he says: mobile management support, the ability to query devices for data like information on installed apps, and a remote wipe option if an iPhone or iPad is lost or stolen. But Apple has until now largely avoided linking iOS devices to enterprise identity systems. iOS 7 delivers some needed enterprise-friendly tweaks.
Yes, there’s been support for Exchange and ActiveSync since the release of the iPhone 3G five years ago. And most mobile management tools can pull data from enterprise identity systems like Active Directory to determine what policies are enforced or preconfigured on a given user’s iPhone or iPad. But that’s nowhere near the authentication, authorization, and single sign-on options that Windows PCs (and even modern Macs) deliver.
With iOS 7, that changes in some significant ways, he writes. Most importantly, iOS now supports enterprise single sign-on. This is a game-changer because it means that once a user’s identity is verified and trusted, enterprise apps or commercial apps that access enterprise data or services won’t require users to repeatedly authenticate with their Active Directory or enterprise credentials. Better yet, Apple is making it relatively easy for developers to implement its single sign-on model.
Apple’s single sign-on model is itself interesting and somewhat novel. Rather than replicate what’s done on the desktop, as many vendors of mobile management systems that support containerization and/or app-wrapping have done, Apple took inspiration from the existing iOS account management architecture.
Meanwhile, another recent report cites the number of overall mobile app downloads—both free and paid—will soar to 102 billion by the end of this year, up from 64 billion in 2012. By 2017, the number of app downloads should reach nearly 269 billion.
Gartner projected this upward trend for app downloads will continue for its entire forecast period through 2017, with the strongest growth through 2014, when nearly 139 billion downloads are projected. As the global market for smartphones and tablets gets more saturated, users will have accumulated a portfolio of apps so new app downloads will slow.
According to Gartner, the Android and iOS app stores combined will command 90% of global downloads in 2017. Today, the two operating systems have by far the largest app stores, with Apple reporting in June that it had more than 900,000 apps, and Google saying in July that it had more than 1 million Google Play store apps.