The The new OS will be available for free download for existing iPhone owners is on June 17. iPod Touch owners will need to pay $9.95. The new 3G S phone will be available from ATT on June 19, with new contract prices remaining stable, but upgrade prices for existing contracts staying significant – ranging between $299 and $499, according to the New York Times.
The iPhone still stands as the pinnacle of all things shiny and bright – the ultimate accessory for tech fashionistas. But what about the rest of us – regular, hard-working folk looking for a bigger, better tech business tool? Are we still stuck with Blackberries and the Windows Mobile operating system?
Well, the iPhone continues to snuggle up closer to the Enterprise and IT professionals with tweaks and enhancements to the hardware and OS upgrade, but it likely will not quite supplant the Blackberry as the go-to business smart-phone. Not yet, anyway. But my advice to Blackberry is to keep doing those shoulder checks, as there is a svelte, rectangular beauty sneaking up in the rearview mirror.
Check out some of the business-friendly upgrades to the new hardware and software.
First, the OS:
Cut, Copy & Paste and Landscape Mode: iPhone users have experienced at least one touch screen anxiety attack induced by negotiating the on-screen keyboard - a clumsy business prone to bizarre misspellings even the intelligent predictive text feature can’t always rectify. Wouldn’t it be great if you could use the larger, horizontal landscape keyboard in more applications than the web browser? Wouldn’t it be great to automate some of the typing work by allowing cut, copy and paste of text – a feature other smartphones have offered for years? While not first to the table on this feature, the iPhone probably has needed it more than most. And it will be a massive improvement to be able to gain a few millimeters of key space between letters when typing emails. For the business user needing to type emails and work with documents, this enhancement will be a godsend.
Enhanced GPS and Turn By Turn Directions: I previously used my Palm Treo with Telenav for business trips, relying heavily on that reassuring voice explaining how to reach unfamiliar locations between tight flight and meeting times. I am looking forward to getting back some of that directional goodness the new OS promises.
Peer-to-peer connectivity: My old Treo also used to allow phone-to-phone IR syncing of information. The new iPhone OS will allow peer-to-peer sharing, which will work oh-so-well with those fancy new digital business card services.
VPN on Demand: iPhones already have the standard OSX VPN client, which permits connecting to both Mac and Windows VPN Servers on L2TP or PPTP over IPSEC. The new software will improve the interface by upgrading to “on demand”, rather than manual, use of a VPN.
Microsoft Exchange Syncing and ActiveSync: The iPhone already can leverage Microsoft ActiveSync for direct Exchange support for iPhone. Exchange and ActiveSync currently allows instant “push” access to services, such as email, calendar integration, contacts, and Enterprise-friendly security features like Cisco IPsec VPN, authentication and certificates, 802.1x, policies, configuration tools, and remote device wipes. The new OS will add Meeting Invitation functions, remote Certificate Revocation and Over-The-Air profiles. The simple Exchange connection offered with the iPhone is preferable to the Blackberry’s more complex system, with its additional step and routing through a proprietary server.
Anti-Phishing: The Safari browser has anti-phishing built in. This is no small benefit – I have noticed such “spear-phishing” attacks on my business computer and phone have been on the upswing.
Improved Call-Log: When you need to mark your calls, note your time and record your activities, the improved call-log in the new OS will rise to the challenge.
Encrypted Profiles: Safety first! Through iTunes 8.1 and iPhone 3.0, users will be able to implement password-protected encrypted backups. Now you can lock it down tight.
New Languages: The New OS will offer additional foreign languages to the keyboard, including Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, and Thai, improving the iPhone-equipped international travel experience.
LDAP: It’s all very technical, but the lightweight directory access protocol (“LDAP”) will be supported for Contacts. This will allow the iPhone to access the enterprise directory more seamlessly.
Notes Sync: Mac-only at this point, but hopefully an upgrade to Exchange and MobileMe is on the horizon.
API Enhancements: Apple has tweaked the API and has opened it to developers to create push functions for the new OS. This should tickle Enterprise sorts interested in crafting applications for push integration across scores of users.
Support for Proxies: Some businesses use proxy servers and the new OS will allow the iPhone to use them too.
Find-My-iPhone: Through MobileMe, a user can track a lost or stolen iPhone, provided the feature has been activated on the phone. The owner also can send a text message to the device that can be read by the thief, I mean, good Samaritan who was just about to return your precious toy.
Next, the new phone:
HSDPA Support : It’s a lot faster than its 3G predecessor. HSDPA support is a promising feature indeed. I used to be able to reach HSDPA speeds on my old Treo and the difference is noticeable. While 3G has been more than adequate for my purposes, it would be nice to render those web pages even faster.
Video, Video, Video: On the phone video recording at 640 x 480, editing and sharing. While there is little use for such functionality in most business settings, web-savvy entrepreneur should be excited about the ability to record clips for social media marketing and creating a visual connection. Interviews, video blog posts and content creation for web sites should be a snap with the new phone. Video is another feature from my old Treo that I miss. The camera is also upgraded to 3 MP.
Faster Application Loads and Better Battery Life: Likely due to improved processor capacity and speed, apps are anticipated to load significantly faster. And the new phone increases its efficiency rating by increasing battery life over the old phone. This is very useful for traveling business users who may find trips between outlets taxing to their hardwired iPhone battery.
More Storage: The new iPhone will have up to 32 GB of storage – more than enough to store scads of documents, apps and what-have-you.
Voice Activation & Control: if your secretary is giving you no respect, your new iPhone will, bringing back that old dictatorial feel to the office! This feature is particularly great for road warriors who need to keep their hands and eyes on the road. Another feature from my old Treo days that has been missed.
CNNMoney.com/Fortune reports on the new phone features and reminds that the new phone also will be loaded with the new OS, so all the previous features will also be available. And don’t discount the App Store either: there are plenty of applications being developed that are industry-specific and provide even more tools for the business user. So many, in fact, that I don’t have enough space to go into them here.
The foregoing provides plenty of talking points that you can use the next time you bump into your IT guy in the hall and raise the perennial question: “When are you guys going to get us the iPhone?” Critics are already offering the response that, while security and enterprise-friendly tools are on the upswing, the iPhone’s total package is not quite there. News outlets, like the BBC, also have taken a decidedly “ho-hum” approach to the new Apple offerings. I am not sure I buy the lack of interest. There is a lot here to work with. And I was heartened the other day with my own IT guy’s impression – that the new package is looking good and that he will be approaching his supervisor with my own question on his lips.