iOS 11: Everything you need to know about Apple’s next update
If you follow Apple, you may be aware that the iOS update cycle is just around the corner. This year’s iteration, iOS 11, has some exciting updates for users across the board, from developers down to the everyday Apple end user. Here are some of the most important updates to iOS, and how they could fundamentally change the way we use iPhones and iPads in the enterprise.
Apple’s new file system means big changes
The biggest change coming with iOS 11 impacts the iPad more than the iPhone, turning the tablet into a more viable computer substitute.
The update introduces new file management functionality to the iPad, made possible by the Apple File System (APFS), a significant overhaul to the low-level file system that replaces an aging system that’s been around for close to two decades. APFS was first introduced in iOS 10.3, but its abilities are swiftly coming to light with iOS 11. For one, APFS means iPads will be able to access files centrally, rather than app by app, making those files searchable via Spotlight.
Multitasking gestures also have been heavily overhauled, removing the friction of using multiple apps simultaneously. This update marks a huge shift for Apple, turning the iPad into a great option for companies that want to outfit their employees with tablets rather than desktops or laptops.
Good news for developers and businesses
Developers have been asking for more from Apple, and this update has made it clear that Apple is listening. Besides the updated file system on the iPad, iOS 11 makes it easier than ever for developers to create. The updated operating system implements on-device machine learning, rather than offloading the processing work to the cloud, allowing customers to rely on the massive power already residing inside Apple devices. It also comes equipped with ARKit, which makes creating augmented reality applications easier than ever.
Also helpful to businesses is Business Chat, which enables app vendors and other organizations to easily and securely talk directly to customers and other businesses through iMessage. It removes the need to open another channel of communication to get in touch, and can be customized to fit a business’s needs. If you want to schedule an appointment in a chat, for example, you could send the other person a customized picker that would allow you to set a date or time, all without leaving iMessage.
Under new management tools
Developers won’t be the only ones checking off wish-list items when iOS 11 rolls out. Those using MDMs to manage their devices will be getting some new controls, including the ability to remotely shut down a device, push updates onto locked devices, and toggle certain commands so they only execute when the device is wired.
In other cases, businesses can now add any device to Apple’s Device Enrollment Program (DEP), even if it was not purchased from a DEP-authorized reseller or Apple directly. This is a huge change for Apple; DEP’s strict chain of ownership has caused strains during adoption, but iOS 11 allows businesses to now add any existing device supporting iOS 11 to their DEP via Apple Configurator using a one-time wired connection. As a safeguard, the device can be removed from DEP for up to 30 days after it’s enrolled. If the device remains in DEP after those 30 days, the device will permanently act like any other device linked to DEP from the start.
Get prepared for the latest update
Even with Apple’s extensive support for older hardware, iOS 11 spells the end of the line for certain devices and apps. Apple is removing support for the first-generation iPad Mini and iPhone 5, along with any version of the iPod Touch preceding the sixth generation. In addition, the newest iOS does not support 32-bit apps. If your company relies on these for its business operations, it’s time to upgrade to 64-bit.
If you have soon-to-be-incompatible hardware, buyback programs, including SHI’s, may be an option. These devices hold value, but selling them back before iOS 11 is released may get you a little bit more.
Apple’s yearly OS update cycle brings many changes and more under the hood than previous updates. The largest changes will certainly bring the iPad to new heights of usability, and lay the groundwork for an iOS that will withstand tomorrow as well as improve today. Administrators and users alike will benefit heavily from the new frameworks, management options, and user interface improvements. While the update won’t be available until September, those interested in testing iOS 11 can sign up for the public beta today.