The iPhone 6 and iOS 8 have well and truly captured the public's imagination. The opening weekend sales of the latest iPhone were the best ever for a new Apple model, selling close to 10 million units, and over 52 per cent of existing Apple users have upgraded to iOS 8.
Consumer adoption is bound to spill into the enterprise, just like with every other iPhone, but when it does, what new features will enterprise developers have at their disposal when developing for Apple's latest hardware and software?
After sifting through over 4000 new APIs, here are the top highlights for enterprise developers.
App extensions will make it simpler to add common actions such as storage choices, Photo editing and cloud storage access, custom keyboards and social sharing apps. Of course, this will save development time, but it will also further standardise the user experience making the app more appealing to users expecting the same experience from their consumer apps.
Time to play with new "Kits"
Apple introduced a range of new "kits" with iOS 8 which have received a lot of coverage across consumer and technology press, and for good reason: They are a game changer for users and developers alike.
PhotoKit will offer manual camera controls, making it easier than ever for budding photographers to take professional-grade photos. A new API architecture for thumbnails and full-sized assets, along with the ability to edit content, takes this extension to the next level. The new API will also simplify integration with enterprise apps.
HealthKit is more complicated. At the foundation, Apple now offers a place for users to store, track and share health and fitness information in a secure environment. As yet, it remains to be seen how data privacy legislation will affect third-party integration, but the potential impact on healthcare is extremely significant.
From the development side, there will be a lot of opportunity and many teams are focused on this space. For instance, VitalBox is using Corticon to build rules into its Personal Health Platform, which benefits both patients and caregivers by providing a health map that uses a patient's medical history and lifestyle to calculate the chance of developing chronic conditions, and then proposing actions to reduce risks.
Alerts are delivered to the patient if bodily measurements reach certain thresholds. Apple's HealthKit will help give developers a framework to start developing with and no doubt we will see a whole new generation of innovative healthcare apps in the not-too-distant future.
Finally, there is HomeKit, which controls connected devices in a user's home. Apps can discover devices and subsequently configure them. Users can also create actions and groups of actions to control devices or groups of devices. Such actions can then be triggered using Siri (which is very much improved in the latest release).
This falls in line with the IoT world being built around us such as intelligent locks and automated lighting control. This will change how consumers manage their personal lives. From the enterprise perspective, IoT holds a lot of potential beyond automatic door locks. At the foundation is Node.js – the first step in building a bridge to IoT – and from there, businesses can look to features such as the HomeKit to transpose more consumer innovations into enterprise breakthroughs.
Games get a 1UP
With the introduction of Metal, Apple has improved graphics performance ten times, bringing console-class 3D games to iOS 8. Developers will find ways to leverage these new capabilities and frameworks and adapt them to the increasingly visual enterprise.
After lining up agreements with the major credit card companies MasterCard, Visa, and American Express, Apple Pay has now started to be adopted throughout the United States.
No official date has been set for Apple Pay to 'cross the pond' to Europe, but many believe it will be around Spring 2015. Apple Pay offers contactless payment using the iPhone, using the phone's built-in security, such as the fingerprint reader. The concept of contactless payment is nothing new but Apple has developed a solution that is elegant, simple and secure.
Once again, this demonstrates how Apple can still innovate and disrupt segments where many others have tried and failed. This is in turn laying the foundations for a range of promising opportunities which will allow enterprises to innovate and capitalise.
Richard Stone is product marketing manager for Rollbase Mobile at Progress