iOS 10: The 10 big changes that will affect enterprise users

More than 90% of enterprises have significant deployments of iPhones and iPads. And they all share the same problem: When Apple releases iOS 10, none of these companies can block their employees from updating their devices over the air.

Companies that rely on Apple devices must be ready for iOS 10, and, naturally, this creates problems for IT. The basic problem is upgrading older apps to replace deprecated classes in iOS. Bigger problems are possible, because Apple simply can't test every detail. Do you remember iOS 6? Apple missed one detail concerning iPad 2 devices and the implementation of Microsoft's ActiveSync for enterprise managed Exchange Servers. The combination led to Exchange servers being overloaded and crashing. No email for the enterprise.

So it is with trepidation that you must prepare for the inevitable update to iOS 10Here are the top ten changes that are coming to iOS 10 and how they will affect the enterprise.

SANS 2016 State of Application Security Report

1. MDM/EMM: Changes to configuration and payloads

We expect updates to Mobile Device Management (MDM) to come with each major update of iOS. Apple broke away from its typical cycle this year. The big changes for MDM management came with iOS 9.3 in March 2016. These changes include:

  • MDM Supervision Reminder to Users

  • Enable/Disable Apps for supervised devices

  • Home Screen Layout Control

  • Notification Settings

  • Disable iTunes Radio

In contrast, iOS 10 is launching with only one significant change and notice. The important change reflects the adoption of VoIP apps as equal to the default Phone app. MDM administrators can now specify which VoIP app should be the default on all devices.

Apple is providing advanced notice regarding changes coming to nonsupervised restrictions for managed devices. The list includes the following:

  • Disable App installation and removal

  • Disable FaceTime

  • Disable Siri

  • Disable Safari

  • Disable iTunes

  • Prohibit explicit content

  • Disable iCloud documents and data

  • Disable multiplayer gaming

  • Disable adding GameCenter friends

To be clear, the above list of changes will not be implemented in the first release of iOS 10, but Apple is stating that these updates will be coming soon. The bottom line: It is better to take care of these changes now.

The one feature that is surprisingly missing from Apple’s MDM updates is an enterprise version of the Educational Enhancements that was released with iOS 9.3. There was speculation that Apple would extend the new Educational Enhancements to support Enterprise MDM needs such as multiple profiles on a single device. An obvious use case for multiple profiles is for locations where a single device can be shared among a group of people.

2. Security

Apple has been front and center about security over the last year. It has stood up to the FBI (and won) and is ensuring its 1 billion customers that an Apple device is a secure device.

The new iOS is loaded with many features that require an intimate understanding of the device owner, such as fingerprints, voice, face, and other PPI personal data. Apple is going to great lengths to protect your identity. The AI calculations needed for Siri to work are completed on the device. It would be much easier to push the request out to a cloud service.

Apple’s continued support for security is a key reason why Apple devices dominate in Fortune 500 companies. The CISO has a much easier conversation about an iPhone than about an Android phone.

3. CallKit API: Solutions such as Skype for Business now can make and receive calls the same as a phone

This scenario might be familiar: You are using Skype to talk to a client when the line is cut because a call has come through on the default Phone app. All VoIP services have suffered from this problem for years.

CallKit, introduced with iOS 10 (details here), is finally making all VoIP services such as Skype, Skype for Business (formerly Lync), WhatsApp, FaceBook Messenger, and the many data-powered call services equal to the standard phone. You will no longer have a VoIP call hung up when your other lines call. Apple’s iOS will treat all calls as equal. VoIP support is huge news for companies that have switched to Office365 or Google Docs that use Skype or Hangouts to manage calls.

4. Universal Clipboard

Copy and paste between Apple devices is now much easier. iOS 10 introduces the ability to cut and paste from an iPhone to an iPad or a Mac device. Apple’s iCloud is the syncing tool that allows for this new bit of magic. Employees will love this new feature. Security teams in the CISO office will hate it. After all, what happens to the data when it is temporarily stored in Apple’s iCloud? This new feature is coming along with plenty of hand wringing.

5. Multitasking

The iPad Pro introduced split-screen apps for the iPad. Split-screen support is now improved with side-by-side Mobile Safari (the web browser). Finally, two web pages open side by side.

Share Notes is clearly an attack at EverNote. Last year, Apple updated Notes to support lists, free-form writing, and formatted text. Now Notes can be shared with others. It is easy to imagine teams working on a project setting up a shared Notes list of tasks to ensure that everyone is working from the same list.

Voicemail now supports transcripts for messages. No need to listen to the message when you can read it. Amen to that!

A final multitasking feature that will help people with too much email is the inclusion of an “unsubscribe” button for Newsletters.

6. Smart notifications

Notifications, like many other features, are also being improved with iOS 10. The big change is that Notifications now feel more useful. There are two reasons for this. The first is that Notifications are now smarter. For instance, a Message Notification can be interactive without having to leave the app you are currently using. The second is the UI for Notifications has had a massive overhaul. Details on the new UI changes can be found here.

7. macOS, watchOS, and tvOS: Apple expands its fledgling OS platforms to support enterprise

Most of the praise Apple receives goes to iOS. It is one of the most modern operating systems on the planet. But Apple does, now, have three new operating systems: macOS, watchOS, and tvOS.

macOS is the new name for Apple’s OS X, the OS that powers iMacs and MacBooks. The latest release is swapping out the OS X for macOS. The Sierra name for the version is staying. New features include support for Siri (finally!), integration with Apple Pay, and many more. The one feature that enterprise administrators will like is remote unlock of macOS with the TouchID fingerprint on your iPhone.

watchOS 3.0 is also another big update. The news here for the enterprise is the straightforward and massive improvement in loading native apps. The speed comparison is noticeably visible. It can be argued that the first version of the Apple Watch was a great experiment in wearable tech. This may hold true for the second generation Apple Watch. The difference is that the enterprises can now begin to lay the foundation for wearable tech that easily integrates with existing iOS devices.

appleTV is, in many ways, still a consumer product. Unlike Google’s Chromebit, a cheap and easy-to-use signage solution, appleTV still relies on the aging AirPlay technology to broadcast slides in conference rooms.

8. New platforms: Siri, messages, and maps

Siri, Messages, and Maps are now platforms that can be extended with Swift. The opportunity here is massive for enterprises.

To begin with, Siri is now extensible to third-party extensions through the use of Sirikit. The goal with Siri has been to be a digital assistant, but that goal has stumbled owing to restrictions on what apps can and cannot be used. With Sirikit, that roadblock can be removed. For instance, WhatsApp can now extend its app to support Siri. Text messages can now be sent by saying, “Use WhatsApp to tell Adam I will be five minutes late.” This is the first step toward making Siri more usable. There will be two more blocks that Siri must remove: 1) Speech-to-text accuracy must increase to 99% or higher, and 2) Apple needs to resolve the problem of people feeling odd when talking to their phones.

In many ways, the update to Messages may be one of the most important iOS 10 updates for the enterprise. Message platforms, such as Facebook Messenger, prove that the “next big thing” is advanced text messaging. While the first companies to jump on this will be media and retail, the enterprise should not be left out. It is certainly realistic to believe that SAP or WorkDay notifications will be able to be sent via an app running on Messages. More information on on how to create apps for Messages is available here. 

The third platform with extensions is Maps. As with Siri and Messages, the extended Maps now provides the ability for apps to interact directly. For instance, an Uber ride can be called up directly without having to leave Maps. A similar model can be applied to logistics companies.

All three platforms establish a post-app foundation where the goal is to keep consumers in one app and have the contextual data they need to find them. The line between enterprise and consumer has been blurring for years. These three platforms will accelerate the blurring of the lines, as well as open opportunities to for enterprises to engage with employees and partners.

9. Swift 3.0: Apple continues to invest in the Swift language, with additional support in Xcode 8

Swift, a development language that is designed for contemporary development, is only two years old, and its adoption rate has been staggering. Many iOS developers have made the switch from Objective-C to Swift.

You can use Swift to develop solutions for macOS, tvOS, iOS, and watchOS. More important, the new platforms that Apple is extending for iOS—Maps, Messaging, and Siri—can also be extended with Swift.

It can be argued that Swift 1.0 and 2.0 were experimental. Indeed, Apple had gone on record stating that earlier versions of Swift would frequently be updated and to expect rapid changes that may lead to breaking the code. Swift 3.0 is different. The language is now stable. If you have not begun development in Swift, now is the time to learn more.

10. Now it's easier for the entire company to learn Swift with new Playgrounds for iPad

Development and programming are no longer the realms of the IT group. Your business should be moving toward being a digital company, which requires your employees to learn how to program. You should consider programming to be a skill set needed for new hires. After all, would you hire someone who does not know how to use a computer?

Playgrounds, for the iPad, is another tool from Apple to make it easier to learn how to program with Swift. It will not make your employees Swift superheroes, but it will give them an understanding of the mechanics of writing code.

Apple is pre-installing Playgrounds with iOS 10 on every supporting iPad, and you can find out more here. 

iOS 10 is on its way!

No other company can push out a new operating system as effectively as Apple. At the end of the day, there is the simple realization that iOS 10 is coming. It will arrive, and everyone will get onboard. 

As an enterprise, you cannot stop it. There will be code that will break. There will be services that get interrupted, and you will have employees complaining. The best you can do is prepare for the change and embrace the new capabilities that iOS 10 has to offer.

SANS 2016 State of Application Security Report
Topics: IT OpsMobile