iOS 12 is coming, but will you be ready?
On June 4th at their Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple unveiled the features to be included in iOS 12, the next version of their iPad and iPhone operating system. This kicked off what is now an annual cycle for businesses to embark upon a program of readiness ahead of availability for customers and employees to download to their devices. Apple are always nonspecific about when this day-zero will be, quoting “Autumn” (or “Fall” for our USA readers) but previous years’ experience suggests mid to late September.
But do businesses care? Increasingly yes, they do, for three key reasons.
- Will my customers’ experience be disrupted?
- Will my employees still be able to perform their roles?
- Are there features in iOS 12 that I could exploit in my apps?
Customer experience is clearly critical to a business. Not only is mobile a significant method of purchase but is the key means of preserving and sustaining customer loyalty and relationships. A negative customer impact after an upgrade could be catastrophic to a business. Also point 3 comes into play here with the race to exploit new features in customer apps ahead of the competition.
The employee app angle is now also becoming an increasing concern. Yes, if your staff can’t book rooms or submit expenses that may be a slight cause for concern; but many businesses are now reaping the benefits of truly transformational apps that drive significant revenue or are fundamental to enabling employees to perform their tasks. For example, a sales assistant app is generating over $1m increased revenue each month, while elsewhere teams of field engineers and sales professionals are using apps that allocate their schedule and knowledge base. An interruption to any of these apps could dramatically affect business with just a few hours outage. The same goes for device downtime, which IBM’s new device health offering looks to eliminate.
But what’s in iOS 12? And is this relevant for Business?
The much-hyped personalized Animoji will be plenty of fun but limited in business applicability. Similarly updates to camera effects, photo search, Safari and Siri are more likely to benefit the private user. However, many features do provide direct business user impact:
- Speed. Existing apps may benefit from a faster and more responsive experience, even on older devices right back to the iPhone 5 and iPad Air. A typical business user should see benefit here
- Collaboration. Facetime is now available with up to 32 people simultaneously. Clearly beneficial to business collaboration, potentially replacing expensive collaboration software and enabling disparate virtual teaming.
- Augmented reality. This is a big one for businesses. Many clients are developing solutions fusing artificial intelligence with augmented reality to create very powerful apps. From field technicians to airline staff to product promotions agents the use cases keep on coming. This new update to the Augmented Reality Kit (ARKit) also allows multiple people to collaborate on the same experience. – ideal for teaming in the field.
- Notification management. Essential for business users to help organize notification priority and reduce interruptions
- Do Not Disturb. Can be configured automatically for meetings or at specified locations
- Screen Time can show users how much time they spend using each app -which may give useful meta data for business app usage.
So how do businesses get ready
That’s the dilemma. Many organizations simply stop their in-flight projects for a few months to focus their teams on getting upgrade-ready.
Apple provides developers early access to beta releases, but ensuring compatibility is not a one-off exercise, as what works today may not behave as expected in tomorrow’s beta. If an organisation does not have smart mobile DevOps configuration and automated testing then this can be a costly exercise, repeating until day zero arrives.
To avoid this, at the other end of the scale there are organizations that wait for day-zero before performing their upgrade efforts – but this runs the risk of the issues outlined above should there be any major error or re-work required. A middle ground is to focus only on those highly critical apps for the upgrade work and just wait and see what happens with the less critical apps.
A growing alternative option is to secure a mobile partner to test and upgrade apps, and even to exploit new features. This option is ideal for many organizations who cannot suspend in-flight projects or do not have access to the original developers that built the apps. Some of the companies offering this service have the tooling to automate and provide assurity (The IBM Service even has specialist tools to analyze what is in the iOS upgrade against app usage and to perform pixel by pixel regression testing)
So, the clock is ticking, day zero is coming, and organizations are planning their readiness. Good fortune with whatever path you take. Maybe next year I’ll be talking to you directly about iOS13 through my peronalized Animoji rendered in augmented reality on your carpet…. but I suspect not.