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Coming soon to the office: iOS 11's augmented reality

Lucas Mearian | Sept. 21, 2017
With the official launch of iOS 11 this week, Apple not only introduced a more PC-like feel to its mobile devices, but included an SDK supporting augmented and virtual reality, which has enormous potential for enterprise use.

In January, the next CES conference will likely see a slew of new AR platforms, including Microsoft's versions based on Windows 10, Gold added.

While the consumer market takes weeks or months to develop new applications for AR, the enterprise space is far more deliberate. So while there may be a few examples of enterprise AR pilots in the near term, there isn't likely to be anywhere near a critical mass of adoption over the next two years, Gold said.

"And few enterprise solutions are stand-alone – having to connect to existing systems means time to integration and degree of difficulty is something that needs to be addressed," he said. "For companies investing resources in business process automation that AR could help with, failure is not an option they want to contemplate, so most will go slow."

The bottom line: while ARKit might make sense for some companies looking to step up to AR capability, Gold said it's not yet clear how they can best exploit the capability based on a smartphone-only solution or even with a tablet like the iPad.

Apple's continued push to partner with key software service providers ensures that iPads and iPhones will continue to come to work as BYOD options and will lead to a strong engagement with users "that is embraced by the IT managers," Minanesi said.

To be certain, Microsoft still dominates the office desktop and laptop arena. Apple has found its enterprise play squarely in mobile, and as more companies embrace a mobile-first strategy, the adoption of mobile devices for desktop uses will expand.

In recent years, Apple has marched into the enterprise, mainly through partnerships with leading IT vendors that create iOS-based apps and services.

"Consumer technologies are becoming the leading platforms in the enterprise market, bringing additional capabilities to enterprise apps and Apple is riding that wave to get adoption in the enterprise," said Van Baker, a research vice president at Gartner. "Every enterprise worker is also a consumer."

Because iOS 11 is more workplace-friendly, it is considered a bigger target for EMM vendors than past releases that, while offering the same capabilities, were more difficult to use.

With iOS 11, Apple added a Dock on the iPad that allows as many as 15 apps to be quickly accessible from the home screen or when an application is running; it also added new multi-tasking features that include the ability to swipe between running apps – a function similar to a macOS Mission Control feature.

The updated mobile platform also offers a system-wide drag-and-drop feature that enables users to perform tasks, such as grabbing data from an Excel spreadsheet and dropping it into a PowerPoint presentation.


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