Apple’s latest iOS update has gotten a lot of attention since it was introduced at the company’s annual event last week for its improvement to the user experience and some security upgrades. But the new operating system might also prove to be one of the biggest steps the company has taken toward expanding the iPhone’s role as an enterprise tool thanks to its collaboration with Cisco.
The companies have partnered to ensure iOS offers several new features designed to appeal to business users such as optimized Wi-Fi connectivity, prioritization of business apps, as well as easier voice integration and collaboration.
The companies have been working together to improve the iPhone’s enterprise experience for more than a year. “To help our customers transform their business through mobility, we needed to help our customers put their workers’ business phones in their pockets,” Rowan Trollope, GM and SVP at Cisco, wrote in a blog post. “Since iPhone was already in most of those pockets, we partnered with Apple last year to improve the experience.”
Those improvements include roaming speeds that are up to eight times faster, much more reliable voice over Wi-Fi and Cisco Spark calling, and a massive reduction in Web browsing problems, according to Trollope.
The update will also allow Cisco networks to automatically identify iOS devices, including iPads, thanks to a recognition protocol similar to a digital handshake. That will enable the network to work more efficiently with the device to ensure it's connecting to the wireless access point with the strongest signal. That should make Wi-Fi connections over Cisco networks both faster and more reliable, the company said.
“The network does the heavy lifting, configuring all these capabilities by default, making it even easier for IT to deploy advanced features,” Jeff Reed, Cisco’s head of engineering for enterprise networking, wrote on his blog.
Life in the Fast Lane
One new feature that will most likely appeal to enterprise customers is the ability to prioritize business data traffic over other data from the mobile device to the network.
Typically, data from mobile apps receive the same level of priority whether they’re business apps such as voice, video conferencing, and document sharing apps, or games, movies, and social media apps. “As a result, apps that are important to your business end up sharing the same network resources with non-business apps, bogging down your work experience,” Reed said.
While businesses have been able to prioritize such data at the infrastructure level, iOS 10 will allow Cisco networks to prioritize data traffic from mission-critical apps that have been whitelisted by IT managers. When an iOS device joins the network, the access point assigns whitelisted apps to a digital fast lane that prioritizes their data over other apps.
Profiles are also SSID-specific, meaning that users can have different profiles and different whitelists, depending on whether they're on the office network, at school, at home, or elsewhere.