Apple escalates its enterprise edge at WWDC 2017

Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) is one of the most anticipated and reported-on consumer tech events of the year, full of new announcements about everything from the latest iteration of iOS to Apple’s newest Macs. One thing many reports about the event miss? The big ways these new technologies can impact the workplace.

This year’s WWDC demonstrated some interesting changes for businesses within the Apple world, from smaller, less-noticed updates to the introduction of brand new devices. Here are just a few of Apple’s business-centered initiatives that stood out.

Hardware gets an upgrade

While WWDC traditionally highlights software, some of the bigger stories this year came from the hardware side. The biggest announcement was Apple’s new HomePod: an advanced, intelligent speaker that can optimize your music and offers basic interactions using Siri. While the HomePod is more likely geared toward a consumer audience, it wouldn’t be completely out of the question to see the device used for conference calls in the office, since the sound quality is so good.

In other hardware developments, Apple announced the iMac Pro—a step up from its regular iMacs that can handle even the toughest business needs. The new desktop has 18 core processors and Turbo Boost speeds of up to 4.5 GHz, which make it a powerhouse for the workplace, particularly when it comes to graphics rendering. Expect to see these hit the market in December, a gift for coding- and graphics-intensive jobs, among others.

All other devices, apart from the Mac Mini, have been updated with Intel Kaby Lake processors, which increase speed and power for machines across the board while lowering power consumption. With the exception of the revised Mac Pro, which Apple is not yet taking orders for, all updated models are available for purchase today.

A final update to the hardware side includes the addition of accidental damage to AppleCare+ for Mac, the first time the service has offered such coverage on Apple’s computer lineup. It must be purchased with the hardware itself, but AppleCare+ now covers practically any unfortunate situation your device may find itself in.

Software takes the spotlight

Apple previewed updates for all its major operating systems throughout the weekend, but none were as dramatic as those for iOS 11. Improvements for both the iPhone and the iPad are on their way, but the iPad stole the spotlight.

The improvements to the iPad operating system turn the tablet from something resembling a large-scale iPhone to a device closer to a laptop. iPads will now have a dock similar to what macOS has had for much of its life, improved multi-tasking capabilities, and a built-in file management solution—a first for iOS.

The filing system itself underwent some changes with iOS 10.3, with Apple switching to Apple File System (APFS)—its fourth filing system ever, and the first major update since 1998. Starting with macOS High Sierra, the next version, APFS will be the default and standard for all Macs to boot. APFS will improve file operations and incremental backups, making Time Machine easier and markedly more efficient, and optimize what’s running on your hard drive. This modification, along the addition of a drastically more user-accessible file system on the iPad, indicates that Apple may have some other big changes up its sleeve for the future of its filing system.

Other big developments to come with iOS 11 include the integration of Business Chat into iMessage, allowing developers to interact directly with customers. On its face, this makes it easier to offer help or customer service, or receive feedback about an app, which can be immensely helpful for both business and consumer. Business Chat also brings many opportunities for companies to change the way they interact with their users, directly through the same avenue everyone already communicates.

One heads up about iOS 11, however: As with all Apple OS updates, it’s a one way street. Once the upgrade is made, it’s permanent—a result of Apple’s ongoing attempt to ramp up security against outside threats. Additionally, iOS 11 marks the end of support for 32-bit apps, so if your business is still using one for everyday processes, it’s time to upgrade or move on.

On the flip side, if your business is interested in pursuing AR or VR, Apple has made a number of updates conducive to those changes. Among them are the introduction of Metal 2, which allows for near-direct access to the GPU for maximized graphics functions (and external video card support for the Mac), and ARKit, which allows users to more easily build AR applications with Apple products.

Apple in the workplace

Apple’s newest announcements and updates show how it’s becoming an even stronger option for businesses, especially those heavy on coding, graphics, or augmented reality. With the additions to iOS 11, the introduction of the iMac Pro, and the revamping of the iPad, Apple is more prepared than ever to handle your business needs.

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