Enterprise Mobility & the Connected Worker Blog

Enterprise Implications from Apple’s WWDC

by Joseph Lockwood, with Eric Klein | 06/07/2019


Apple’s annual World Wide Developer’s Conference went down this past Monday, where they revealed what users and developers could expect in iOS13. Naturally, we focused on the changes specific to Apple’s desires to expand iOS device usage in corporate settings.

Over the course of the past decade, Apple has come to epitomize the consumer side of technology, from the iconic iPhone to the Mac, which has made significant progress against the once-ubiquitous PC. In corporate settings, however, Microsoft’s legacy as the de facto OS for business remains a sizeable barrier that Apple continues to chip away by virtue of its massive consumer appeal. The sheer popularity of Apple has presented the company with a sizeable opportunity in the enterprise, which, under CEO Tim Cook’s stewardship, has resulted in a notable shift in priorities; but, partnerships with larger enterprise-oriented firms such as IBM and SAP haven’t led to much traction – yet. Here are the most notable announcements we observed:

Project Catalyst
Apple revealed its platform that allows developers to port their iOS apps developed for the iPad over to Macs ― dubbed Project Catalyst, the ultimate goal is similar to Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform (UWP) which is to make apps function similarly or the same on different devices. Specifically, you no longer have to use AppKit to transfer an app to the Mac, which prior had made managing apps more difficult. While Microsoft’s intentions for UWP were good, it has not resonated with developers, as they regularly experienced added liabilities (and time to develop their apps) due to the fact the UWP provided fewer avenues for trouble-shooting and workarounds, and for customizing their software. With Catalyst, Apple has an opportunity to learn from Microsoft’s mistakes and to help developers bridge the gap between its desktop and mobile platforms.

iPad Gets Separate OS
Apple has decided to separate the iPad and iPhones Operating Systems’. This will allow Apple to develop tools that take advantage of the iPad’s large display and other unique features. One new capability they announced with iPadOS is the ability to display content from two browsers on the same screen in a split view. iCloud drive will also now allow users to share files, including accessing SMB files so they can share files from their PCs. In addition, iPadOS will now support external storage devices via USB. The iPad is gaining functionality and speed that makes it perform more powerfully, and like a desktop ― this is a logical step, and mimics the direction we see both Google and Microsoft moving in.

Single sign-on Extension
Single-sign-on is what allows you to use your Facebook account to log into various other 3rd party apps and services. This way a user can have multiple accounts linked to one login that you are familiar with, and you know is secure. Apple now has its own version of this; you can use your Apple ID as a login for multiple different services. Apple’s version also allows you to use face and touch ID to access your account. This is a positive step for the industry in general, as this does afford a level of protection for users from third-party apps that attempt to monetize our data and usage habits.

Manage Apple IDs for Business
Business administrators can now use Apple’s “Business Manager” to create Apple IDs for employee use. An employee using one of these ID’s will be able to access company exclusive information and services, including info on the company’s iCloud Drive and iCloud Notes. This will make it easy for admins to allow many employees access to the same information. Furthermore it will allow an iPhone user to switch between their work and personal accounts on the same device. With each successive OS update, key security and “IT friendly” administration features continue to improve the company’s security posture, and have led to the expanded use of Apple products in business settings – while we expect this trend to continue, Android has proven it can be hardened for business-critical B2B deployments.

Modern Authentication for Device Enrollment
Automated device enrollment allows administrators to tailor their security settings and content. Companies that have many iPhones will love this feature as they can modify the security settings of their devices to fit the employees’ needs without compromising the business. In addition, Apple’s will reveal some MDM enhancements with its macOS Catalina (likely to be GA in Q4). The OS will be able to specify primary account / usernames and control user access to change their settings (a helpful feature for corporate environments with standardized username formats). Additionally, Catalina OS devices will be able to authenticate against third-party identity providers (IdPs) using protocols such as SAML.

Android Q already has implemented features to give administrators more control, such as being able to block installation of apps, and other malware prevention. Android Q also already allows switching between personal and company email on the same device. Recent news says the new beta includes “Face Authentication” which indicates the next update will have face reading software, catching up to Apple in that regard.

While Apple didn't emphasize it, both iOS13 and iPadOS will have mouse support which will work with both USB and Bluetooth mice (including Apple's Magic Mouse). This is notable in our view, and is likely to receive widespread adoption from developers as it makes using iOS devices with external monitors much easier. It is clear that Apple is continuing (albeit slowly) to refine its mobile OS for the modern enterprise. Demands for mobile enablement, business agility, high performance and high availability have added complexity to what are already challenging IT deployment environments, and are making effective IT and digital leadership more important today than it has ever been. We’re keeping a watchful eye on how Apple engages with ISV and integration partners, as well as the managed services community. If your firm partners with Apple in support of your B2B customers, we’d welcome the opportunity to speak with you about your experiences and use case(s).

View the 2019 Enterprise Mobility & Connected Devices Research Outline to learn more.