Apple's new mobile operating system is jam-packed with new productivity-boosting features. With the release of iOS 8, which debuted this week alongside an OS X update for desktop Macs, the company is introducing a revamped notification center, better messaging and email, security upgrades and more. The OS update also introduces new ways for the iPhone and iPad to sync with your desktop computer, so you can transition seamlessly between devices as you work. Read on for five features that make it great for business.
Your iPhone of iPad is a great tool to help you stay productive when you're away from your work desk, but it's not always feasible to work on such a small screen. Now a new feature called "Handoff" lets you transition seamlessly between your mobile device and your desktop iMac computer or MacBook laptop, and pick up right where you left off. Alternatively, you can send a Web page, or an in-progress email message or document, from your Mac to you mobile device so you can continue working on the go.
It works because iOS devices and Mac computers that are connected to the same network are now automatically aware of each other. When you're working on one device, an icon will automatically appear on the other one showing the connection; just tap to make the switch. For example, if you're composing an email on your iPhone, and decide you'd rather type it out on a desktop keyboard, just click the Handoff icon on your iMac or MacBook computer. That will launch the Mail app and automatically import the content of your in-progress email draft, including any attachments, so you can finish it at your desk.
The other big development to improve continuity between your phone, tablet and desktop computer is a revamped version of Apple's Airdop feature. The feature, which made its debut as part of iOS 7 last year, previously let you quickly transfer files from one iPhone or iPad to another. Now Airdrop is finally compatible with Mac computers as well, so you can easily move files between all your devices.
TouchID for apps
Touch ID on Apple’s iPhone 5s lets you lock and unlock your phone by pressing your finger to a scanner embedded in the phone's Home button. The feature will become even more useful with the launch of iOS 8, which lets users lock individual apps using the fingerprint scanner. Small business owners who use the Mint finance app to track their spending, for example, can now secure the data stored in that app using their fingerprint. This extra security boost is good for any business uses who regularly accesses private business or client data on their mobile device. It only works on the iPhone 5s, however; Apple hasn't yet released an iPad with TouchID.
Apple is introducing a slew of new features to make the iPhone and iPad more enterprise-friendly with iOS 8. Companies can now enroll in a program to have Apple devices pre-programmed to meet company requirements before they're shipped. That means the smartphones and tablets you order for your employees can be ready for synchronization with your company's email and calendar systems before you even remove the shrink wrap on the box. Devices can also come with the particular enterprise apps your company already uses pre-installed. That cuts out set-up time and helps new employees get up and running quickly.
Other new enterprise features include improved security and VIP notifications that let users set special alert rules for email.
A revamped notifications system in iOS 8 lets you quickly act on incoming messages and alerts so you can get back to work. When a new SMS text message, email or calendar alert arrives, you can now act on it from anywhere – even on the lock screen. For example, when a text message alert arrives, you can swipe down to display the keyboard, then type your message and hit send, all without leaving the app you're viewing. Previously, users had to launch the messaging app to send a text message. Interactive notifications, which work with most alert types, are a small time-saver that help you spend less time fiddling with your phone and more time being productive.
The Notification Center isn't just for notifications anymore. Now you can add widgets to the menu, which is accessed by swiping down from the top of your iPhone or iPad screen. Widgets are like miniature apps that run right within the menu, letting you see more information at a glance. The feature will let business users check on stocks, view the weather and see all their reminders at a glance, right within the Notification Center.
You still can't pin widgets to your phone or tablet's home screen, like you can in Android; in iOS 8, they're confined exclusively to the drop-down menu. Still, the feature should prove useful since it lets you put all the information you need to know in a single unified location, right alongside your normal alerts.