High 5 for iOS 9

By Jonathan Ross ·

It’s September, and as we say farewell to summer, we anticipate another iOS update coming over the horizon. While this time of year can be stressful for enterprises that support corporate-owned and BYOD iOS devices, this also is a time to look forward to the latest and greatest business features expected from iOS 9.  After Apple’s WWDC 2015, it was apparent that Apple decided not to launch new groundbreaking features but instead focused on fine tuning and enhancing existing functionality.  Let’s take a look at five features that you should consider leveraging upon release of iOS 9.

  1. Managed Apps – We’re seeing significant expansion of functionality introduced within previous versions of iOS such as managed apps and per-app VPN, which creates a heightened user experience with more granular mobile device management controls around it. Managed Apps has been very successful by allowing organizations to push public apps to connected iOS devices with their enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution, being able to limit the sharing of data between other managed apps, and remote uninstallation.  The issue organizations found is that the user must install the apps from their enterprise app store to become ‘managed.’ iOS 9 will now allow you to enable management of any app, regardless from where the user installed it. For example, when you have a user leveraging the Microsoft Word app before their company decides to provide this app as an approved business application, the company’s EMM solution can now enforce management on the Word app without the user reinstalling it from the company’s enterprise app-store, and potentially losing their existing data.
  1. Enterprise App Store – The Enterprise App Store within iOS 9 can push business apps to devices without the need of an Apple ID. This also will allow the user to update their business apps without worry of being logged in with the correct Apple ID, since all business applications now will be separately managed per-device by the EMM. For organizations using purpose devices such as POS or other kiosks, they now can deploy new business applications while the Apple App Store is blocked or removed from the device.  
  1. Per-app VPN – We were introduced to per-app VPN in iOS 8 with an adoption rate that was less than stellar. But it gained enough attention to receive a few much-needed enhancements. One expansion Apple introduced in iOS 9 is the services that may leverage the per-app VPN. Organizations can now include managed email accounts and specified web domains into the per-app VPN ecosystem on the device. This will provide organizations with new options that were previously only capable with EMM solutions. You can now allow users to access internal websites via Safari instead of a third- party browser. And while the ability to force a managed ActiveSync profile into a per-app VPN would discard the need for a reverse email proxy, this will not solve for functionality like Attachment Control that an EMM proxy provides. Another aspect of VPN profiles on a mobile device is the impact on battery life. While the per-app VPN is far more efficient than a device VPN, this is still typically more resource intensive than a proxy connection baked into an app.
  1. Exchange ActiveSync v16 – Users should be happy with iOS 9 for business, as Apple is showing them some love with a few productivity and user-experience enhancements. One thing that has bugged me for years is calendaring. iOS 9 brings support for Exchange ActiveSync v16, which includes the ability to receive attachments on a calendar invite or attach your own to a new calendar invite from your device. You also can expect to see better time zone capabilities, meeting room capabilities and draft synchronization within this update as well.
  1. Spotlight Search – Developers now will be able to include app content within Spotlight Search on the user’s mobile device. Spotlight Search was designed to be the go-to search mechanism for iOS users who don’t want to argue aloud with Siri. While it provides many great search results for app-store apps, native email and contact data, and Wiki results, it was never capable of including content within third-party apps. If adopted by EMM solutions, you should expect to see documents from various repositories made searchable within Spotlight, or accessing email and contacts that are stored in a containerized solution.  

It’s great to see companies like Apple giving enterprise users more attention. They’re providing great functionality to both end users and IT departments with easier access and new security controls for EMM. But what if the device becomes compromised? What good is all of this new functionality if the device is victim of malware or a network attack? With the onslaught of vulnerabilities, malware and other emerging threats blasting the news lately, it can be tiresome to maintain an effective security posture that protects corporate data and your users from zero day threats. Organizations should be looking into mobile security solutions that can ensure users can securely leverage the latest iOS 9 features without worry of network attacks, malicious profiles or malicious applications.