WWDC 2015: The WWDC wind-down: 5 lingering questions

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Jan 10, 2015
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Earlier this week, Apple took the wraps off of a ton of new stuff during its WWDC keynote address. From Apple Music and iOS 9 to OS X El Capitan and Swift 2, there was a lot to like for consumers and developers alike. However, mixed in with all of the flowery language about how Apple is planning to change the game once again, there was a distinct lack of attention paid to the enterprise market.

Looking back at past WWDCs, this wasn’t always the case. In 2013, Apple announced that iOS 7 would include app store volume purchases, enterprise single sign-on, and more. Hardware nuts were even given something to drool over with the refresh of the MacBook Air and our first look at the beastly Mac Pro redesign. Even during WWDC 2014, Apple’s Craig Federighi gave enterprise users a shoutout, saying that iOS was a “huge hit in the enterprise.”

Now that the hype has died down a bit from this year’s WWDC, we thought it’d be a good time to look at what Apple didn’t announce - especially for the enterprise crowd. With that in mind, let’s take a look at five lingering questions enterprise users may have about what Apple didn’t mention.

1. Where art thou, iPad Pro?


Let’s just get this one out of the way right off the bat. An iPad Pro has been rumored to be in the pipeline for years, but despite some reported release dates and the occasional display panel leak, it hasn’t officially reared its head. As far as specs are concerned, the only thing that’s fairly certain right now is that the iPad Pro will sport a much larger screen than current iPad models, landing somewhere between 12.2 to 12.9 inches. Additionally, the device has been rumored to include NFC for possible use as a payment terminal for small businesses.

Given the surge in rumors over the last several months pointing toward a 2015 release date, WWDC seemed like an opportune time for Apple to announce the iPad Pro. Ultimately, that turned out to not be the case, but with iOS 9, Apple appears to be laying some groundwork for a potential release later this year. Of particular note for the business crowd is the ability to run two apps at once, side-by-side. While this is sure to be a boon for productivity on the current generation of iPads, the potential on the larger-screened iPad Pro would be even greater.

In addition, Apple announced that iOS 9 will include better hardware keyboard support with an easier connection process and support for commonly used keyboard shortcuts. In short, between enhancements in iOS 9 and the persistence of the rumor mill, we wouldn’t expect the iPad Pro to be too far off, with an announcement possible at Apple’s annual iPad event this fall.

2. No word on IBM?


Almost a year ago, Apple and IBM announced a partnership to bring enterprise-ready apps to iOS devices. Since then, the partnership has borne fruit in the form of a range of apps focused on analytics, device management, and most recently, the healthcare industry. The overall goal, of course, is to make a concerted effort to push more iOS devices into the business space, and Apple looks to have been fairly successful so far.

That being said, there are some ways Apple could improve things. For one, it would have been interesting to see Apple buck the traditional client-by-client distribution model for these apps and make a push for less-specialized apps leveraging IBM’s analytics. Similarly, now that Apple is embracing the open source community with its Swift development language, a new open source IBM app would have been a sight to behold.

You can be sure that there will be more coming out this partnership, as there are plenty of industries that could still benefit from IBM’s big data analytics combined with Apple’s quality hardware. However, it seems we’ll have to wait a bit longer to see what this partnership is cooking up.

3. Apple Watch for the enterprise?


Speaking of business-ready apps, it would have been interesting to see if Apple has any plans for the Apple Watch in the workplace. Sure, the announcement of watchOS 2 with support for native apps was a big deal, but the elephant in the room for enterprise users was the question of where Apple’s wearable fits into their workflow.

There are already a number of apps for the Apple Watch that are useful for business users, such as Salesforce, Bottomline, and Betterworks; but imagine Apple took this unique experience and made it even better by cooking up some native Apple Watch enterprise apps with IBM. We’re sure it’s something that’s already being discussed, and may even be in active development, but it would have been great to get even a brief acknowledgement that such apps are indeed being worked on, along with some possible applications.

4. How about a side of TouchID with my Mac?


When Apple debuted TouchID with the iPhone 5S back in 2013, it was lauded as a great security feature for both regular and business consumers alike. Fast forward another year, and that security prowess was reinforced with a higher-resolution scanner, and even became the trusted gatekeeper for Apple Pay. Frankly, it’s high time Apple brought this technology to Macs in some form. Windows laptops have been integrating fingerprint sensors for years, bringing an added layer of security to those looking to keep their data free from prying eyes. Where these PC solutions have sometimes been a bit clumsy at times, TouchID on the iPhone, and now the iPad, has arguably been more accurate and elegant in its execution.

Admittedly, there are some current solutions that attempt to bring the security of TouchID to the Mac. Indeed, some iOS apps, such as MacID and Fingerkey, support using your iPhone’s TouchID sensor to log into Macs without the use of a password. While these third-party solutions incorporate encryption and work over Bluetooth LE, they’re just meeting a demand that could be better handled at the system level. Simply put, for those looking for an added layer of security on their Mac, built-in TouchID would be a welcome addition.

5. Where my Siri at?


Though Siri is primed to become much more useful in iOS 9 with the ability to predict what you need and when you need it, Mac users are still very much left out in the cold. And while the iPad Pro may be a twinkle in the eye of some business users looking for a portable productivity powerhouse, the fact of the matter is that most heavy work is still done well within the confines of the traditional desktop environment. Simply put, in an age when digital assistants are becoming increasingly ubiquitous, with Microsoft’s Cortana making the leap from mobile to desktop in Windows 10, and Google Now serving up personalized recommendations on both Android and Chromebooks, there’s no reason not to integrate Siri into OS X.

Quite frankly, what Microsoft has shown off with Cortana in Windows 10 is amazing. Now that Siri is getting smarter, think of the implications for productivity if Apple were to bring a voice-activated Siri over to the desktop. Think of a great idea while your knee-deep in a spreadsheet? Just say “Hey, Siri, take a note.” Need to quickly set a reminder for that meeting you just scheduled? Just ask Siri to set one. I don’t doubt that this is in the works somewhere deep in Apple’s labs, but there was palpable hope that it would be included in OS X El Capitan.

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