Mobile in the Enterprise

5 iOS 8 features to leverage for your business

September 19, 2014

  • Felipe Laso Marsetti

iOS 8 is the latest and greatest version of Apple’s mobile operating system. With it come some of the biggest (and coolest) changes for both consumer and business users and certainly for developers. Here is a list of the five features we think will have a big impact on mobile programs and apps for business.

Touch ID

With more iOS devices incorporating a fingerprint sensor, it was only a matter of time before Apple gave developers access to Touch ID. Clients will want to incorporate the sensor into any of their applications that use or require authentication, and end users will be immensely happy about this because it means ditching the good old password in favor of your fingerprint.

If you are worried about security: don’t! Devices with an A7 chip or higher have the Secure Enclave. This is a high-level description taken from Apple’s iOS Security PDF:

“The Secure Enclave is a coprocessor fabricated in the Apple A7 chip. It utilizes its own secure boot and personalized software update separate from the application processor. It also provides all cryptographic operations for Data Protection key management and maintains the integrity of Data Protection even if the kernel has been compromised.”

The Secure Enclave is not exclusive to Touch ID. The Keychain will also take advantage of this if available on a device.

Touch ID does not mean you can forget about passwords. Users can still bypass the fingerprint sensor and choose to input a password. The great thing is that working with the Keychain on iOS has never been easier, and it’s also seen some great enhancements on iOS 8.

Extensions

Extensions are one of the best new features of iOS 8. Extensions let developers create custom keyboards, widgets that can be placed in Notification Center, or sharing and performing actions across apps.

Some great examples of extensions that are already showing up in beta form are keyboards that let you swipe to enter words, colored keyboards, password managers being available in other applications (finally no more jumping around apps to get a password!), translation extensions, and sports widgets in Notification Center

Adaptive Layout and Size Classes

This is a feature that end users will not be able to play with, so to speak, but they will certainly benefit from. With new device sizes and resolutions comes the problem of handling your UI. If you have been avoiding Auto Layout and sticking to frame-based layouts, now’s the time to switch.

Size Classes and Adaptive Layouts are the future of UI design on iOS. Apple no longer wants you to think of your apps as being in portrait or landscape on iPhone or iPad. Instead your application has a size class. It can be a compact width or height, and regular width or height. Several combinations of these, along with the device type (phone or tablet) will give you the information you need to layout your UI.

Whats super cool about this is that you no longer need a Storyboard or XIB for iPhone, and one for iPad. You can now setup specific constraints, attributes, and even show or hide elements, depending on the size class. All built into Interface Builder. The whole idea behind this is to have layouts and interfaces that “adapt” to the device and size class available.

Previewing your UIs is also easier now that you can have your own custom views shown in Interface Builder.

Apple has made some great enhancements to how developers can create user interfaces thanks to refinements in Auto Layout, and the new features of Xcode 6 and iOS 8.

SceneKit

SceneKit is to 3-D what SpriteKit is to 2-D. It allows you to easily embed 3-D models or scenes into applications. Some clients may want to have interactive models of their products or show a 3-D scene in a portion of the screen. In the past this meant writing custom OpenGL code, or finding third-party libraries or engines that would facilitate this.

Now, with SceneKit, there is a built in API that also gets along with UIKit and SpriteKit! Look for even more interactive and visually stunning apps in the near future!

Other Features

There’s so much more to cover on what’s new in iOS 8, but here are some nice features that both developers and end users will benefit from:

There are new workflows for localization, and exporting and importing your localized files. Xcode also supports the standard XLIFF file format when working with localizations.

Previewing your localized app in Xcode’s Assistant Editor is now possible, along with creating schemes that have a different language and region. You can now run your app and test it in different languages without having to reset change your simulator back and forth.

Actionable notifications that, for example, allow users reply to a message from the notification alert, banner or lock screen.
If you have an application with both an iOS and OS X version, Handoff will allow users to seamlessly take any work they are doing on their iOS device, and resume where they left off on their computers, or vice versa.

The list goes on. There’s HomeKit, HealthKit, iCloud Drive, CloudKit, Family Sharing, App Store video previews, App Store app bundles, TestFlight, and much much more.

Do you agree? What feature do you think will have the most impact on enterprise mobility and apps for business?

Stay tuned for more insights into iOS 8. Big changes are here, and they are very exciting. Feel free to leave your comments below, and by all means, reach out if you’re interested in knowing what iOS 8  could mean for your particular mobile initiatives.