Apple Eyes App Collaborations To Boost Enterprise iPad Adoption

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Commonly referred to as the tweener device in enterprise mobility, tablets have received a mixed reaction and less than stellar adoption rate in the mobile transformation journey.

It was recently announced, however, that Apple’s iPad, now boasting the latest iOS 11 version, and Microsoft have teamed up to make enterprise workflows more productive.

See related: iOS 11’s Enterprise Impact: AR, Machine Learning Makes Waves

It makes sense for the two powerhouses to collaborate – after all, Microsoft’s Windows platform remains the gold standard in office-specific workloads, like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and others. Add that to Apple’s iPad proliferation – it saw an 11.4% increase in device shipments in Q3 of 2017 over the same time period in 2016, and accounts for roughly a quarter of the tablet market – and the focus is clearly on trying to change the way mobile workers use devices.

The new integrated features allow users to take advantage of drag and drop on iPad to put content into documents, presentations, and spreadsheets from other Office-based apps or OneDrive. Additionally, the OneDrive for iOS now natively supports the Files app in iOS 11.

The enhanced features that will allow Office-focused employees to better combine the two technologies for a more seamless operation, especially for business-critical work.

See related: Where Are Tablets In Enterprise Mobility?

While tablets seem like strong tools for mobile employees, they’ve seen lackluster usage when compared to smartphones and even laptops.

For some, tablets have become the go-to device, like the airline industry, where companies like Southwest and Alaska Air have specific line of business purposes for the device.

In our enterprise, we do not have many phones and no wearables, but we have 30,000+ tablets,” said Chris Grubbs, Senior Project Manager at Southwest Airlines. “In the airline industry pilots need a tablet to see charts and manuals. Flight attendants need a tablet for manuals. Technical operation engineers need tablets for aircraft manuals. Ground operations have multiple use cases for tablets and handhelds, but not phones.”

See related: Alaska Air Uses iPhones, iPads for Rapid Mobile Transformation

Tablets still have a long way to go to have the same presence as smart phones, and it come down to the apps – exactly what iOS and Microsoft are trying to strengthen.

“If you’re going to lug something that big you want a keyboard because the bulk of enterprise apps are still PC-based,” said Mark Clancy, Founder of Cyber Risk Research. “When you add a keyboard to a tablet you learn that laptops are just better. Since almost no enterprise apps use touch, either mouse or keyboard is still the HMI.

Apple’s attempt to empower enterprise mobility users hasn’t stopped with Office functions. The upgraded iOS also features Paste by FiftyThree to create more engaging presentations, be they in PowerPoint or other services; GoodNotes 4, which allows users to take handwritten notes on the device and can sync between iPad and iPhone; and Kaleidoscope 2, where employees can compare separate documents, images, or folders side by side rather than toggling between tabs, browsers, or other windows.

The tablet market is expected to see a 9% CAGR through 2021 – a steady increase, but nowhere near its smart phone or wearable brethren in the enterprise mobility landscape. That said, increases in application efficiencies to get business-critical workflows complete could change the dynamic of how users consume and create productivity on specific devices.