Smartphone, tablet and laptop buying guide for businesses
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Whether admins like it or not, Apple devices and OSes have made their way into the enterprise and are here to stay.
How does Apple stay competitive? By offering devices and applications that consumers want, and by giving enterprise IT administrators the tools they need to enable workers' use of iOS devices. Still, there are probably some features on iPhones and iPads that admins would like to nix, such as AirDrop, and other consumer features that raise concerns over the security of corporate data. So it's important to have some tricks up your sleeve to make managing Apple devices a snap.
Apple has been adding enterprise-grade management tools and features to its devices and OSes for a few years, culminating in iOS 7. These resources will help you harness the management features available to you in the mobile OS. You'll also learn more about Mavericks -- Apple's latest iteration of its desktop OS that syncs with iOS 7 – and get some iOS device specs.
The mobile OS: Apple iOS 7
Any mobile device from Apple that has hit the market since 2010 can download and run iOS 7. Plus, iOS 7 has a few nods to enterprise IT. Per-app virtual private network (VPN), an improved Volume Purchase Program (VPP), managed open-in, easier-to-use mobile device management (MDM) tools, and other new features, aren't just a bone that Cupertino finally decided to throw IT; they're bona fide enterprise tools.
That being said, Apple still designed the OS with consumers in mind. It comes with some less-savory features as well, such as AirDrop, which allows iPhone and iPad users to share data with one another wirelessly. These types of features are things you should look out for and lock down -- if you can or want to.
Device management cheat sheet
The slew of new tools in Apple iOS 7 might have you wondering about the basics. Check out this cheat sheet to find out more about how iOS 7 management tools work.
iOS 7's top 8
Tons of IT-facing features showed up in iOS 7, including easier MDM enrollment and configuration options, managed open-in, single sign-on, per-app VPN, a revamped VPP, and improvements to mail and third-party data protection. Learn more about these features.
Security features for users to activate
Application data protection and iCloud's keychain are two more features that are new in iOS 7, but they require user activation. When users enable a passcode, data protection automatically encrypts App Store apps' data. Via the setup assistant or the settings menu, workers can turn on the iCloud keychain, which encrypts passwords, Wi-Fi keys and credit cards, then replicates that data to iCloud.
Improved VPP makes app management a snap
That revamped VPP we mentioned makes application management a lot easier for companies and administrators. Here's how: It lets companies retain app licenses so you can remove applications from users' devices when they leave the company, and then reassign the same app to other workers.
To block iOS 7 features, put devices in supervised mode
You can block iOS 7 features such as AirDrop, but only when devices are in supervised mode. That gives you almost complete control over users' iPhones and iPads, something employees likely won't be comfortable with. Additionally, if you want to put a device in supervised mode, you have to physically connect it to a Mac running Apple Configurator.
The desktop OS: Mavericks
The tenth major update to Apple's desktop operating system is called Mavericks. It's free to download for users running Snow Leopard and later OS versions, and it comes with iWork, iLife, and improved integration with iOS 7. That means users who have standardized on Apple devices will benefit from similar experiences across their devices.
Mavericks, iWork and iLife rival Office
Apple's newest version of OS X is available for free from the Mac App Store. Users can also get the iWork and iLife productivity suites for free. There isn't a real Office suite for all iOS devices (although Microsoft recently released the much-awaited Office for iPad). Apple's move to offer so much software for free shows that the company is taking aim at Microsoft.
To upgrade or not to upgrade?
Just because Mavericks comes at no cost to users doesn't mean they should make the jump. There are pros and cons to the OS: It improves on some weaknesses in Mountain Lion, and it gives users the ability to view full screens on multiple displays; however, some reviewers say the design is mostly underwhelming.
How iOS 7 and Mavericks sync
With iOS 7 and Mavericks, the line between mobile device and desktop blurs because users' iCloud keychains, calendars, contacts, notes, reminders, etc. update automatically between iOS devices and Mac computers. A user can load an appointment into his desktop calendar and receive a reminder on his iPhone when it's time to leave for it.
Apple iPhones and iPads
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How much do you know about Apple iOS 7? Find out with these seven questions
Since the iPhone's release in 2007, there have been a few different iPhone and iPad models on the market, though the improvements from one release to another have been marginal. Learn more about the specs of these Apple devices below.
The first iteration of the iPhone 5 has an A6 chip and a half-inch larger screen than previous models. It's thinner, lighter and has better 4G capabilities than older iPhones, too. The 5 also introduced the lightening port and Apple Maps, both of which were met with tepid reviews from consumers.
Apple's iPhone 5s had small improvements over previous models. Available in three colors -- pace gray, silver and gold -- the 5s is the same weight and size as the iPhone 5, but it has TouchID fingerprint technology and a new A7 chip with an M7 co-processor, which Apple says makes it twice as fast as older models with less battery drain.
The iPhone 5c comes in candy colors -- green, blue, yellow, pink and white -- and it's aimed at the mid-range smartphone market, particularly in China where Android devices reign. It has an A6 processor and weighs about half an ounce more than the 5s, but has almost the exact same dimensions.
The iPad Air is thinner, lighter and has a better 9.7-inch Retina display than iPads past. It weighs in at only one pound and it has a 64-bit A7 processor and M7 motion co-processor that can last up to 10 hours.
iPad mini with Retina display
The second version of the iPad mini has the Retina screen its predecessor lacked. The 7.9-inch screen also has a Multi-Touch display and is powered by the same A7 chip and M7 co-processor that are in the iPhone 5s and the iPad Air.