What iOS 10 Means For Enterprise Mobile Developers
The Mobile and PC ecosystems have been largely disconnected but Apple’s WWDC announcements showcased a path where the two converge and begin to reinforce each other with services such as Auto Unlock, Universal Clipboard and more open APIs for Siri. Apple’s iOS 10 offered a whopping list of ten announcements. I’ll recap the announcements and provide my opinions on how these features change the enterprise app development landscape. In iOS 10, the upgrades included:
- User experience enhancements. The keynote showcased a redesigned lock screen with rich notifications, quick interaction with apps from the lock screen and expanded 3D touch. These enhancements showcase how refinement was needed in mobility. It also highlights the ever evolving nature of mobile design patterns. As companies look to build enterprise apps they should be aware of how swiping and touching have evolved.
- Certain aspects of Siri get unlocked in iOS 10. What could make Siri better on the iPhone? In my opinion greater accuracy. However, the ability for developers to use Siri within their apps is a near second. One impressive item here was Siri’s ability to do better natural language processing across apps. For example, a request to send a message to Nancy can be stated in numerous ways and still understood. For example, “WeChat Nancy” or “I need to send a message to Nancy via WeChat”. Developers should consider adding voice navigation as part of mobile designs and create a database to support machine learning for enterprise terms.
- Quick Type Siri intelligence to the keyboard. This feature uses context to predict what you might need next. In my book on right-time experiences, I stated that mobile changes applications and business workflows because it provides new contextual elements such as location, image capture and motion. Apple’s enhancements are excellent examples of how context can be used to improve applications.
- Photos received a boost from advanced computer vision and media organization. Machine learning was highlighted in photo recognition and the smart replies feature based on recognized images. Also media can be sorted and tagged by context such as location, people and memories. In the enterprise context, this could be applied in areas as equipment recognition for field service, inventory mapping and merchandising in retail and context for customer support calls.
- The big news in maps is that navigation and search have access to more info. One thing that has happened at all three developer conferences (Apple, Google and Microsoft) was a focus on enhancing anchor services, such as maps and messaging, by integrating third party data and services into apps. Enterprises must connect their own data siloes but they must also look for new information that can improve their existing workflows or help them create new workflows.
- Music was redesigned from the ground up. This also is consumer focused but the biggest untold enterprise news is that the music app was rewritten in Swift. This matters because more and more of Apple’s mac OS and apps, such as music and messaging, are being rewritten in Swift. Swift will be an important language especially as it can now be used for both client and server side development.
- News sources expanded and the app learns what you like to read. The biggest enterprise takeaway from this, as well as point one above, is the concept of better home screen notifications and the ability to anticipate what you want. As we build enterprise apps, we need to rethink notifications. Companies should also be constructing journey maps that use context to trigger next best action notifications.
- HomeKit got a new companion app called Home. While this isn’t an enterprise product, I’d suggest looking at the concept of creating a unified dashboard for your employees. Many types of software vendors, such as CRM and collaboration vendors, want to be the dashboard of choice. However, these vendors typically show data from one type of application. What employees actually need is the ability to create their own dashboards that have functions from numerous apps that could include areas such as supply chain, collaboration, customer management, expense tracking and human resources. The home app is an example of the integrated dashboard for consumer and will create expectations for dashboard style apps in the enterprise.
- There were numerous new messaging and phone functions. Most of these were replicas of features we’d seen in consumer messaging apps but there were a few points of interest. For example, Apple and Cisco continue to connect their services to deliver on the unified communications vision. Machine learning is also being applied to messages to create smart replies. In the enterprise world, companies have a lexicon. It may be worth collecting and analyzing documents to understand the lexicon and use it to train the voice navigation aspects for your mobile applications.
- Privacy continues to be a top item for Apple and it’s working on items such as differential privacy. In the enterprise world, this would translate into separating work and personal via enterprise mobile management (EMM) software and policies. Android for Work offered more specific features for enterprises but Apple continues to have a light touch in the enterprise, largely with the EMM providers to support policies for BYOD.
To wrap up, Apple is opening up more functionality, which is good for both consumer and enterprise developers. Apple, similar to Google, is building a world that connects services from other companies into its apps (e.g. messaging and maps). They are also making a concerted effort to conquer the enterprise as evidenced by its recent partnership announcement with SAP. As we build enterprise apps we should also be looking for places where data or services from third parties (e.g. weather, pricing, sentiment analysis) could enhance existing apps and workflow. Companies need to build APIs to support this connectivity. All companies should be looking at how context can improve apps and offer better notifications. Apple’s WWDC highlighted refinements in the mobile user experience and the consumer mobile experience will continue to dictate usability attributes for enterprise apps.
Find out more about the SAP and Apple partnership.
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[SD1]Link to sap.com/apple