Apple opens WWDC June 3. I believe there’s a lot going on at the event, but what benefits might it bring to enterprise users?
Marzipan and Macs
Apple is expected to introduce a swathe of ‘Marzipanified’ apps at WWDC. These are iOS apps that run quite happily on macOS.
It introduced early examples of these at WWDC (News, Voice Memos, Stocks, Home), but this year will see it introduce the tools developers can use with which to port their own iOS apps to Macs.
This should be good news for consumer users, but will also impact enterprise IT, who can now more easily develop enterprise-focused apps for iOS and the Mac, or at least learn the limitations of such promise.
Macs are also expected to gain support for Siri Shortcuts, which could have some implications for some enterprise users.
iPad Pro improvements
There’s a range of expectations around improved multitasking. These include support for multiple windows, including side-by-side instances of the same app, which will be a big boost to productivity.
Another claim that’s in circulation claims support for external USB-C mice on iPads and that it will be possible to use your iPad a secondary Mac monitor. Even better, while in that mode you’ll be able to draw items that can be immediately used on your Mac with your Apple Pencil on the iPad, turning the latter into a graphics tablet. Additional improvements that may benefit enterprise iPad users include new features in the ever-essential Files app and improved Share sheet functions.
New privacy models
Enterprise users must be prepared for Apple to enhance the privacy protections it has in place across its platforms.
This may have particular implications for marketing firms, and it seems possible Apple will take a moment to evangelize a new system it is developing which lets ads firms know when ads are clicked but blocks third-party cookies.
The company calls this “Privacy preserving ad click attribution for the web’ and introduced it as an experimental Safari feature earlier this month. Apple is also developing a new version of its Intelligent Tracking Prevention tools.
The company has made it quite clear that it doesn’t believe any entity should have backdoor access to people’s private mobile lives, in part because such flaws eventually proliferate until no one is safe. The protection limits business potential for some enterprises and maximizes business protection for others.
Discussion on this topic may also look to Siri and how Apple maintains privacy for users of its voice assistant, along with new CoreML learning models to make edge devices capable of learning in isolation, without recourse to cloud-based machine intelligence.
Identity is everything
Apple announced schemes to use its devices as ID across U.S. campuses in 2018. Several schemes are now in place, including at the University of Kentucky.
Enterprise IT will be asking to what extent these schemes reflect Apple’s move to replace ID in more general scenarios, such as for internal access, authorization and more. Perhaps we’ll learn more at WWDC.
These schemese will likely also offer up APIs third party MDM vendors can utilise in order to extend the kind of tools and security support they can provide to their enterprise customers.
Apple is focused on services and will inevitably discuss these during its keynote. One service that may be of interest to enterprise pros must surely be Apple Pay.
At time of writing it seems likely we’ll see the extension of support for the service to multiple countries, potentially including a widening of availability for Apple Pay Cash.
It also seems quite plausible to expect some news on how developers can integrate support for Pay, Cash and Card within their apps.
AR and media
ARKit and Apple’s media plans will also draw mention. I anticipate news around shared image asset libraries and new tools with which to develop and host low-bandwidth but high-fidelity AR experiences.
Games developers can anticipate news around Metal, and APIs to accelerate experience development across all Apple’s supported platforms: Mac, iPhone, iPad and Apple TV. There has also been some discussion around visual AR experience creation tools.
Apple will continue to enhance its on-device AI. It will inevitably focus its announcements around enhancements to Photos – more search domains, more accurate gallery recommendations and the like – but it will also discuss enhancements in its machine learning APIs and will (I think) extend the domains in which these technologies function.
Another popular manifestation of this may be some discussion around Home, HomeKit and fresh support for new families of device, potentially including Tile-like device tracking, Lighthouse-inspired security camera support and interesting deployments of AI for media discovery.
What about NFC?
Apple’s VP Internet Services, Jennifer Bailey has told us the company is working with retailers to make it easier for iPhone users to enrol in retailer’s loyalty programs using NFC on iOS smartphones.
This may well extend to enabling better support for NFC tags based on the ISO 7816 standard, which is often used for ID. Perhaps we’ll use our iPhones for new contactless services in late 2019.
What devices will be supported?
Recent speculation and the release of the A10-powered iPod touch strongly suggest Apple will limit support for iOS 13 to devices running A10 or later processors.
If true, this suggests that the iPad (2018) and iPhone 7 (2016) will be the oldest devices capable of supporting the OS. This wil lraise criticism among consumer users and is something enterprise purchasers may need to develop spending contingency plans for. These claims may prove inaccurate, but it’s worth looking for clarity at WWDC.
Similarly, it seems possible Apple may narrow the support window for Macs, suggesting 2015 model Macs may be reaching the end of the OS support period.
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