September 21, 2012, 10:12 AM — While virtually every detail about the iPhone 5 was known before last week's launch event, Apple managed to keep details about iOS 6 (other than those highlighted at its annual developers conference in June) quiet. Until yesterday's release of iOS 6, virtually nothing was known about the kinds of things enterprise users are interested in, especially the mobile management capabilities of the OS update.
Now, with iOS 6 out in the wild, it seems pretty clear that it's an evolutionary step forward for mobile management. Apple is clearly making it easy for businesses and IT departments to secure new iOS 6 features and is ramping up security in key way. But this update, for better or worse, is far from a complete overhaul.
That said, here's a look at what enterprises should focus on.
Three mobile management approaches
Apple is often regarded as a key player in the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement that is sweeping across IT. Most people think of the arrival of the iPhone and iPad - and the ensuing desire by executives and employees to use those devices for work - as a fundamental beginning of the BYOD movement. Apple was able to capitalize on that by building mobile management features into iOS.
Today, devices in the workplace are typically seperated into corporate-owned or employee-owned, with the owner ultimately responsible for the hardware. Corporate devices tend to be heavily managed, with IT in charge of buying them, provisioning apps, configuring them for business use and applying security and management configurations. Employee-owned devices, on the other hand, tend to be more lightly managed, though they may still be enrolled in a management system that requires better security and may limit some features.
The third category: shared devices that are managed more tightly. These devices often function as digital kiosks -- an electronic restaurant menu, in-room hotel concierge system, in-flight entertainment, sales tools in a car dealership or shared devices in a classroom. Since they aren't personal and need to serve specific functions, they are largely locked down.
Apple seems to have considered all three of these approaches with the additions it's made to iOS 6's security and management capabilities. The company offers a handful of new policies that any mobile management vendor can implement and it has developed a series of more stringent policies that build on the Apple Configurator tool launched this spring.
Lets look first at the simpler BYOD-style management features new to iOS 6.
Handling shared PhotoStreams