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Thursday, 19 September 2013 05:27

My pick of the best new iOS 7 feature for enterprise users

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Today is iOS 7 day! Apple iPhone and iPad users around the world are upgrading iTunes and their smartphones and tablets. Amid the revamped flat look, the AirDrop and Control Center, the camera and radio and other features stands something new for enterprise users, something which maybe should have been there from the start but wasn't - but finally is here. This is my favourite new feature of iOS 7 and it's about time.

If you are a business user chances are you've had a BlackBerry in the past, once the staple of enterprise messaging.

I personally advocated in support of the BlackBerry for a long time; the keyboard allowed me to furiously type tens of thousands of emails, articles, notes and all else no matter where I was. The BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), often maligned by those who dispair over having to maintain an additional back-end server, meant the device could be securely managed and made policy-compliant. The BES also meant that any user password changes didn't disrupt the device whereas all Help Desks around the world know too often that user's seemingly don't understand cause-and-effect with "My iPhone is asking for a password?" / "Did you change your password on your computer recently?" / "Yes" being all-too-familiar a discourse.

Price-wise, BlackBerry had a magnificent advantage in that carriers offered a flat-rate BES plan which gave unlimited BlackBerry data. This compared well with regular mobile data which was expensive and subject to extremely expensive excess fees. A business had confidence its BlackBerry costs were fixed every month irrespective of data usage and without a need for careful monitoring. Of course, fast forward to 2013 and the BlackBerry fee has not changed in price while mobile data has plumetted and the BlackBerry fee sticks out like a sore thumb on the bill.

All this said, it's taken Apple a long, long, long time to replicate a BlackBerry feature for those connected to a BES - note synchronisation.

This is not a trite addition; it is a substantial one, and those two words "note synchronisation" do little justice.

Prior to iOS 7 your Exchange-connected Apple device would synchronise mail, calendars and contacts. This left poor notes out in the cold. Yet, notes is a staple Outlook/Exchange component. This addition elevates the iPhone to a status from highly useful to absolutely useful, giving business users unprecedented - well, on the iPhone at least - levels of information at their fingertips. Specifically, the user's own information.

Your "Notes" section in your enterprise mail may include your shopping list for the way home, or, like mine, it may include technical details identifying your networking equipment at every branch office along with your WAN provider's contact details. Or, it may include your list of current prospective clients. Whatever you use notes for, the good news is iOS 7 now synchronises these and iPhone business users around the world will benefit. Ex-BlackBerry users can enjoy having a feature back while others join in for the first time.

That's my pick of the new iOS 7 features.

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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