The iPad as a Business Device

Monday, January 4, 2016 - 19:00
The iPad as a Business Device

The prospect of using an iPad in a work environment unsettles some business owners.

Thanks to Apple’s renowned marketing and design, the device is better known as a consumer product created for reading, watching videos, and gaming – not for business use. No one wants to see another Candy-Crush-at-the-office incident and many business owners, more familiar with this entertainment role, have concerns that an iPad in the workplace could be used to gain access to confidential information or inappropriately used to access non-business related apps. These concerns over how iOS devices fit into the workplace are certainly valid, but can be easily avoided — a suitably configured iPad can be deployed in a business environment with security and abuse fears allayed.

Guided Access Restricts Use

‘Guided Access’, a feature in iOS’s settings, has been available since iOS version 6. It allows an iPad’s owner to limit access to just one app, and even disable the volume and home buttons. This feature means that once an app is running, the iPad’s home screen or general settings cannot be accessed without entering a valid PIN. When using a specific business app, such as the intelligentpos® app, only that single app is available unless ‘Guided Access’ is disabled with a custom password.

iOS Depreciation Prevention

It’s also a concern that a tech-savvy transgressor might look to get around these settings. However, a security feature on devices using iOS version 8 and above prevents the operating system from being deprecated; an iPad can’t be maliciously downgraded in order to circumvent these access limitations. A comprehensive security guide is available on the Apple website. For businesses that deploy a number of iOS devices, an updated feature in iOS 9, the Mobile Device Management (MDM) tool, centralises the administration of iPads, including the installation and update of apps on them. Even though the iPad is primarily marketed to consumers, Apple’s device features effective access and security controls that makes its use in the workplace a practical, safe choice.

iOS’s Closed Development

It’s also worth noting the ‘closed’ development philosophy behind iOS in contrast to the ‘open’ development philosophy of the Android OS. While no operating system is entirely watertight, the ‘open’ nature of the Android OS means there are many more potential security vulnerabilities than with iOS. Keeping the iOS software updated and appropriately configuring the ‘Guided Access’ settings provides an effective and secure platform for everyday use in your business.

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Nick Blackbourn