I’m sure by now you’ve seen the keynote and read the articles on the big OS and platform announcements. Some of you may have even caught the session videos. But most of that coverage focused on consumer-facing benefits. Here at the Propelics blog, we’re going to look at some of the WWDC16 enterprise takeaways.
Big picture: the enhancements were about refinement, not revelation. In many ways this is very Apple—improve the user experience and remove friction. Some bemoaned the fact not much was groundbreaking or disruptive and took it as further proof Apple has lost its innovation mojo in this post-Steve Jobs phase or that the era of smartphone innovation has passed.
Personally, I’m not buying it.
Thankfully, something less than breakneck innovation in mobility is great for the enterprise. Sometime in the last decade, large enterprises ceded leadership regarding the adoption of the latest and greatest technologies to consumers. As opposed to displaying mobile leadership, Enterprises have been dragged into mobile by employees and the BYOD movement.
Outside of email, contacts and calendaring, the use of mobile in the enterprise is still disappointingly limited. And it’s not just about the number of apps delivered or business processes reimagined. Recent research from Jack Gold shows that outside of device asset management and secure email and browsing, enterprises are hardly using the EMM suites they paid so much for.
Given that we still have so far to go, it’s probably good if the pace of innovation from Apple and Google slows down. Let’s start utilizing the full potential what we already have at our disposal and look at Apple’s new enhancements as ways to do it even better.
That said, let’s now look at my 7 key takeaways for the enterprise from this years’ WWDC:
- Rich Widgets & Content Extensions: I don’t know about you, but this really resonated with me (and not just because I can catch ESPN game highlights from the lock screen). This feature lets users respond to rich notifications and updates from the Home Screen (or from Today View) via 3D Touch quick actions. Couple that with Content Extensions to provide an expanded view for dynamic notifications and there’s some magic to be had in business process improvement.
- Universal Clipboard: Thank you, Apple. Cut-and-paste across devices is finally here. The number of times I see something on one device and need it on another device increases each day. This evolution of Handoff should provide a big productivity boost (or at least a lot of small productivity boosts) for many. I wonder how this might play into the overall platform and device strategy. My question is: will this make companies re-think their Windows10 strategies since this cut-and-paste won’t work cross-platform (i.e. iPhone to Windows PC or Surface Tablet)? Microsoft’s Continuum has a similar strategy with Continuum, but since they lost the mobile wars (and that’s being kind), does this new cross-device capability indicate a decline in their desktop foothold?
- Subscriptions: This was actually announced prior to WWDC, but merits calling out. By (finally) enabling subscriptions for apps, Apple may have finally unlocked the path to make iPads true target devices for companies that make “professional software.” One-time purchase apps made it economically infeasible for companies who build desktop productivity or design software (selling at $100 or more) to design apps for iPad, where $9.99 is a king’s ransom. Perhaps now more apps used for work will be ported to the iPad so companies can plausibly construct a real single device strategy around iPad.
- Cisco Partnership Begins to Bear Fruit: This hasn’t gotten a ton of play—and builds off a year-old partnership between Apple and Cisco—but can be a real game changer for Cisco shops.
a) VOIP: The new calling integration with Cisco Spark VOIP in iOS 10 lets users link their iPhone and Spark lines so they can take calls on their iPhone or let the Spark phone leverage the iPhone Contacts. Slick.
b) WiFi: Cisco fast lane QoS marking is even a bigger deal. Not only can you easily prioritize WiFi traffic to iOS 10 devices under the new integration, but you can also specify priority for specific iOS applications across the network. Of course you have to have an all-Cisco network to take full advantage, but that’s still pretty neat. I can envision a C-level executive or two whose iOS devices will be blazing fast.
- HTTPS is the New Black: App Transport Security will be required by the end of 2016 for App Store submissions. This mostly impacts consumer-facing apps distributed in the store, but some companies distribute partner apps in the App Store too. Either way this further emphasizes Apple’s focus on security for all you developers out there.
- The Opening of Apple: The continued opening of platforms like iMessage, Siri and Maps (heretofore only available to first-party apps) is huge. Putting those tools in the hands of developers opens up a lot of opportunities, though hurdles still exist.
a) iMessage apps sound great, but for many companies regulatory and legal discovery requirements still require secure messaging platforms.
b) While I understand why Apple took the domain-specific approach with SiriKit, virtually none of them are relevant to apps built around internal business processes. But as the list of domains expands, so will the opportunity for the enterprise. For now, enjoy (and use) the new Speech Recognition API.
c) Maps Extensions can be leveraged right out of the gate. Especially for field service, delivery/logistics and sales use cases. This definitely deserves some investigation and a few proofs of concept.
- Swift Stability: Swift is one of the fastest growing languages out there. And now it’s available not just for Apple’s first party platforms, but for server development on Linux, Raspberry Pi and Windows. There’s even talk of Swift being evaluated as the primary development language for Android! All that is great, but there’s one problem. From Swift 1 to Swift 2.3 there were already a lot of changes. As a developer it’s hard to write great code when the language keeps changing under your feet. As an enterprise it’s nigh on impossible to commit to such a language for mission critical work. Thankfully, stability is a top priority for Swift 3. This means Swift should be ready for primetime enterprise use and is now worth serious investment.
Certainly, additional announcements from this years’ WWDC impact the enterprise. If I missed any additional WWDC16 enterprise takeaways you hold dear or have any questions about the topics I covered here, please let me know via email or hit me up on Twitter.