Modern Apps Live! Conference on Enterprise Mobility and Azure

Join us at Modern Apps Live! in Orlando, Florida this week, where we discuss using a single Microsoft Azure back end to power iPad, Android, Windows Phone, and Windows 8 apps. I’ll be discussing how the iPad app was architected and coded, including third party libraries like AFNetworking and Azure Mobile Services.

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iWork for iOS, OS X, and the Web: Shared Feature Set and File Format

Great news for any parsimonious enterprise IT group was Apple’s announcement last week that iWork is now free on all new iOS devices and Macs. iWork is Apple’s productivity suite for iPhone, iPad, Macs, and–with a web version–PCs running Windows or other OSes. iWork includes Pages, a word processor; Numbers, a spreadsheet; and Keynote, a presentation program.

While iWork isn’t direct competition for Microsoft Office on the desktop, it is certainly good enough for just about any productivity needs on a mobile device. And, unlike Office on Windows RT on the Surface 2, iWork is optimized for touch-based devices and small screens, so it’s very easy to learn and use.

What’s nice about the new versions of iWork is that Continue reading

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Is Apple adding a database to its iWork suite of office tools?

Curious timing here. Apple already announced the iPhone 5S and 5C, and rumors are they will announce a new iPad and iPad mini next month. Apple also announced the iWork (Pages, Keynote, and Numbers) suite of apps will be free for every iOS device sold.

Also coming soon is Mac OS X Mavericks and new Macs. Will iWork be free for them, also?

If so, does iWork need a database? Apple subsidiary FileMaker already made a very nice and consumer-friendly database for iOS and OS X called Bento. (Note: it was not in any way enterprise-worthy, and could not hold a candle to Microsoft Access, even.)

Curiously, Bento is being discontinued at the end of September, right before Apple’s next major iPad and Mac announcements. Are these events linked? Or is it just coincidence?

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Fingerprint recognition may make the iPhone 5S the go-to smartphone for the enterprise

Fingerprint recognition may make the iPhone 5S, expected to be announced later today, the go-to smartphone for the enterprise.

Earlier this year, at a multibillion-dollar enterprise customer of Magenic’s, I saw the pain of using iOS 6—without Kerberos single sign-on—when users had to continually enter usernames and passwords as they traversed through SharePoint server after SharePoint server. This made their system non-viable from a usability perspective. Nobody used it, and IT really couldn’t blame the user.

If Apple combines the rumored fingerprint recognition with the already-announced enterprise features of iOS 7, including per-app VPN, Kerberos SSO, “Open in…” management, enterprise ownership (and possible reassignment) of App Store purchases, AirDrop, iCloud Keychain, and Password Generator, then the iPhone 5S* may very well become the phone to beat for the enterprise.

These features combine high security with ease of use in a heretofore unseen manner. IT is satisfied, and users are thrilled. A win-win combo if ever there was one.

Will BYOD become BYOiD? Bring your own iOS device.

*–Note than a less expensive iPhone 5C is also rumored to be announced today, but it will likely not have the fingerprint recognition on the Home button the way the 5S will.

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Enterprise Apps, Platforms, and Total Cost of Ownership

Whether you’re a CMO with business-focused teams reporting to you, or a technical manager or CIO with technical teams reporting to you—and you’re deciding which platforms to support for your internally-facing enterprise apps or externally-facing consumer apps—ask your teams this:

Why does Apple’s simulator only give you 5 device options (really just 3 distinct form factors), while Android’s emulator gives you over 20—and that’s just the popular ones?

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Microsoft buys Nokia’s Devices Division, including Manufacturing

So the big mobile enterprise news today, seen in this article from The Verge, is that Microsoft is buying Nokia’s devices division.

There are three interesting points to this purchase.

They’re not buying Nokia outright—Nokia is keeping its HERE mapping division, among others—but they are buying the device division, including manufacturing. This is similar to how Blackberry worked, but is in stark contrast to Apple, which has essentially no manufacturing component. Even with the stated move of manufacturing of Apple’s pro desktops to the United States, that manufacturing will be outsourced to Taiwanese or Chinese companies.

So apparently Microsoft thinks a manufacturing arm will bolster its chances of success. Perhaps Microsoft is trying to emulate Samsung and Google, rather than Apple. Microsoft has manufacturing and licensed patents, much like Google acquired with its purchase of Motorola.

Another interesting point is the timing of the purchase. Anyone could have guessed that putting Stephen Elop in charge of Nokia several years ago was prepping him to rework Nokia as a leaner company and bring it into the Microsoft fold. We kept expecting it to happen, but it never did.

So now it happens—right after Steve Ballmer’s retirement from Microsoft is announced. One can only imagine that previous negotiations broke off when Stephen Elop wanted a bigger role and perhaps a clear line of succession to the top, and Ballmer balked at such a thing, since he wasn’t going to retire for another decade. Maybe Ballmer’s enforced retirement changed negotiations materially.

The third interesting point is the purchase of the low-end Asha line, but not the high-end Lumia line. According to The Verge’s article, Nokia has had profitability problems trying to win in the high-end market. So perhaps Microsoft is going downmarket with the Asha line. But Apple has already started its inevitable downmarket trend by coming out later this month with the rumored-and-all-but-inevitable iPhone 5C.

Apple took this same tack with their iPod line (Classic, touch, mini, nano, shuffle) and their iPad line (Retina and mini models)—it was inevitable with their iPhone line. Chances are, Apple will continue to go downmarket with future models, as long as they can figure out how to keep their margins high. And Samsung has dozens of models in every niche imaginable, so it’s hard to imagine how Microsoft can differentiate itself in the lower-priced market. Maybe Elop figured it out, and that’s the driving force of the acquisition.

These are exciting times in the enterprise mobile world. It’s good to see Microsoft making bolder moves than they have in the past.

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iOS 7 and Kerberos Single Sign-On (SSO)

As expected, some amazing news came out of Apple’s WWDC (World Wide Developer Conference) this week. And while much of it was consumer-oriented, there was one particular new feature revealed that is of extreme importance to the enterprise*.

Buried deep on the iOS 7 Features page (http://www.apple.com/ios/ios7/features/), Apple talks about “enterprise single sign-on support”. Now, I don’t know about you, but for several of Magenic’s enterprise clients, this is the holy grail that they’ve been waiting for.

I’ll take a stab and presume that Apple is talking about Kerberos single sign-on (SSO), as that is the industry standard. And, whether it’s API-based or configuration profile-based, it could be the answer to many an IT executive’s dreams.

SSO has been in the enterprise for over a decade, but hasn’t made an official appearance on iOS or Android mobile devices, yet, other than a technology preview for Android from 3rd parties (i.e., not as part of the OS itself). Kerberos, it turns out, was never originally designed for mobile devices. Microsoft was first to market with a mobile Kerberos solution, when it shipped Windows Phone 8 with Kerberos support. iOS and Android lagged in this respect, so it’s good for enterprises to hear that iOS 7 now supports Kerberos for SSO.

For the enterprise, this may be the single most important new feature in iOS 7. The flat new user interface is garnering the most media attention, but enterprises know that connectivity rules supreme. Any mobile solution, whether BYOD or corporate-provided devices, must have a simple, user-friendly way for employees to connect to multiple networks and servers with a single sign-on.

*Unfortunately, Apple’s NDA for the iOS 7 beta means I can only discuss publicly available information. (If you provide me evidence of an Apple Developer Account, I’ll be glad to discuss more with you via my employer, Magenic.com.)

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Apple’s 7.8 inch iPad and the enterprise

Well if the story leaks from the Wall Street Journal, it’s almost certainly intentional so this news appears to be the real deal. Apple to release 7.8 inch iPad.

(Mockup image from MacRumors.com)
I blogged recently about the potential for Google’s new Nexus 7 tablet to be useful for the enterprise. The problem with that, though, is that the Nexus 7 is subsidized by Google and thus they will not be likely to want to sell in large quantities. The difference here is that Apple will charge a profit-generating amount for its iPad, but I don’t think $299 for a quality tablet with fantastic software will cause Enterprises too much concern.
When thinking about enterprise purchases, be aware that a 7 inch tablet is not a replacement for a 10 inch tablet. A 10 inch tablet is more like a laptop. A 7 inch tablet is more a mobility device that people who are in very mobile jobs such as delivery or field work could use as a large input device–but certainly couldn’t be used as a laptop since the screen is just too small.
Would you buy a 7 inch iPad for your enterprise?

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Google Nexus 7 Tablet: Enterprise Thoughts

the Verge gives the soon-to-be available Google Nexus 7 tablet fairly high remarks. Although I haven’t had one in my hands yet, the Nexus 7 seems to impress The Verge with reasons similar to my initial thoughts.

I’ve also thought this Nexus would make a great enterprise device. Why? Well it’s inexpensive (enterprises love value), it’s portable, and the Jelly Bean Android 4.1 seems much improved in terms of features, speed and usability.

It is in no way an iPad competitor, though; I see them as completely different devices aimed at completely different markets. Where the iPad has a large screen and tablet-optimized software and is aimed as a laptop replacement for office workers and consumers, the Nexus 7 (and 7″ tablets in general) are best for consumption of media and best for enterprises for highly mobile workers with fairly uncomplicated workflows for their mobile devices.

The iPad is more like a laptop screen (so you can do a lot of work) whereas a 7-inch tablet is more like a giant phone.

The problem with the Nexus 7, specifically, for enterprises is that Google makes no profit on it, and is banking on consumers purchasing media (movies, books, magazines, music, tv shows) from Google Play, and that’s how they’ll make money off it.

So, will Google want to sell a no-profit device in large quantities to enterprises that won’t use Google Play?

Probably not.

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HP drops Windows RT Tablet Plans Due to Microsoft Surface

Microsoft may have shot itself in the foot with the release of its own ARM-based Windows RT tablet. Announced last week, the Surface RT tablet appears to compare favorably to the iPad in many respects (while lacking a Retina-quality display), and has interesting lightweight and portable keyboards to go with it.

According to this report from hothardware.com, HP is giving up plans for an RT (ARM based) Windows 8 tablet and instead will create only Intel based Windows 8 tablets.

Time will tell if this affects suitability and availability of RT tablets for the enterprise. Some pundits think Microsoft needed to make its own branded hardware to compete with Apple’s iPad, but this always risks annoying their hardware partners.

Let’s hope Microsoft can make enough tablets to satisfy enterprise demand.

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