How iOS 6 gives IT more control over iPhones and iPads

New control features will appeal to both regulated industries and retailers

Yesterday, many of your users updated their iPhones and iPads with the iOS 6 update. More will do so in the coming days and their devices and/or iTunes alert them to the revised Apple mobile OS. Regardless of your official policy on mobile devices, iOS 6 is part of your business reality.

If you manage iOS devices, whether company-issued or BYOD, you'll be happy to learn that Apple has added more IT management capabilities in iOS 6. You can expect mobile device management (MDM) vendors such as AirWatch, Fiberlink, Good Technology, and MobileIron to implement the same in their tools soon.

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Here are the new management capabilities in iOS 6:

  • iMessage blocking: iOS 6 supports a policy that disables iOS's iMessage texting service that allows OS X and iOS users to send messages to each other without incurring SMS charges. As Fiberlink senior product manager Josh Lambert notes, this policy will appeal to financial services and other companies that need to regulate or monitor the communications between, for example, employees and customers.
  • Passbook, Game Center, iBookstore, and shared Photo Stream blocking: The Passbook app for the iPhone is a great tool for keeping airline, theater, and other tickets, as well as coupons, available in one location. But iOS 6 also lets companies disable Passbook on managed devices, notes AirWatch spokesman Victor Cooper. iOS 6 also adds blocking for the Game Center social networking service for gamers, Apple's iBookstore online bookstore, and the new ability to share the device's photos and images with other iOS and OS X users via the Photo Stream service in iCloud, iOS 6, and OS X Mountain Lion.
  • Global corporate proxy: iOS 6 has a policy that lets you force all Internet communications through a single Internet proxy server of your choosing; you can filter all communication, both business and personal, such as for use by data loss prevention tools.
  • Single-app mode: Available only on the iPad, the new Guided Access capability lets you restrict users to a specific application and even disable some features of that application. It also disables the Home button. (To access the rest of the iPad, users need to know the Guided Access PIN set for their device.) Lambert says this feature will appeal to both kiosk uses and to retail, surveying, and other venues where the iPad works as an appliance rather than as a portable computer.
  • Time-limited profiles: iOS has long supported certificate-based profiles that can restrict the device's capabilities, as well as preconfigure standard settings, and those profiles could be locked against user change or removal. iOS 6 now lets IT set expirations for such profiles, so they automatically uninstall at a specified date and time, even if the device is not connected to the Internet. That allows a device to have temporary access to a server or other resource, without IT manually removing the permission later.
  • Improved certificate and profile management: iOS 6 extends its support for certificates and profiles with a policy that can block installation of certificates and profiles from other servers. That way, "foreign" certificates and profiles can't be added to managed devices.
  • Forced wallpapers: iOS 6 can force devices to use specific wallpapers on the home screen and/or lock screen, such as the company logo. That seems a bit Big Brotherish to me, but it could be handy for retail environments for branding, as well as a way to quickly tell a customer's iPhone or iPad from the retailer's own.

This article, "How iOS 6 gives IT more control over iPhones and iPads," was originally published at Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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