iPhones are about to get plugged into enterprises with Cisco's help

The partnership will bear fruit later this year

Exterior of Apple headquarters
Credit: Glassdoor/Apple

Apple and Cisco Systems have fleshed out their plans to make iOS devices work better in enterprises and said the new capabilities will arrive in the fall.

Voice calls on Cisco’s Spark collaboration app will act like regular phone calls, IT departments will be able to give Cisco apps priority on iOS devices, and iPhone calls will run over corporate networks. These are some of the ways the two companies’ technologies will mesh in enterprises.

Cisco announced the coming features on Monday after Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference keynote. They’ll ship in a version of Cisco Spark updated for iOS 10. Apple also touched on the news at WWDC as one of very few enterprise announcements at the show.

The two companies revealed their partnership last August. It could help Apple gain an official foothold in more enterprises and rub off some of the company’s consumer cachet on Cisco. But to get the most out of the integration, customers will have to buy into both vendors’ technologies in a significant way.

They will offer deep integration between iPhones and the Spark messaging and voice platform. An incoming Spark call will ring on the lock screen just like a cellular call and users will be able to tap on a contact in the address book to contact them over Spark. Siri will also be able to set up that call. Mute and call waiting will work on Spark calls, too.

If employees make a regular call to someone on the corporate directory, it can automatically be carried over a Cisco corporate LAN, potentially cutting cell bills but also allowing the enterprise to log those calls for regulatory compliance.

IT administrators will be able to give enterprise applications like Spark or WebEx priority over others that might command an iPhone or iPad’s resources. For example, if one employee is streaming YouTube videos over the corporate network and another wants to do a WebEx meeting on an Apple device at the same time, company policy will be able to give the work app preference.

Another feature is less groundbreaking but could come in handy for road warriors. Apple mobile devices will be able to find the best available access point on any Cisco network in the office or on the road.

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