Analysis: What You And Businesses Should Expect From iOS 5

Those changes will be, in part, extensions of what we have seen in the new Mac OS X Lion as well as the forthcoming iCloud offering, and will force Apple’s competitors to move swiftly.

In one fell swoop Apple will make available a variety of functions in iOS that will increase the messaging capabilities in its iPhone, iPod touch and iPads, when it launches its iMessage feature. Built with much the same interface as iPhone’s native SMS messaging, iMessage will instantly provide a new means for data transfer. In addition to text messages, iMessage will support sharing of photos, video, contact and other data -- providing slick ease of use for instant communication between devices but additional concerns for businesses that have been racing to keep up with technology and keep a tight clamp on potential, but sensitive, data leaks.

But an even bigger change iOS 5 will spark will come with the launch of more functionality of Apple’s iCloud service.

With iOS 5, calendaring and calendar sharing, task-synchronization between devices and auto-upload of photos and video to iCloud will drive meaningful changes to use patterns. For example, for devices integrated with Microsoft’s Outlook and Exchange, creating or updating task lists from an iPad or an iPhone will send a wireless update to every device or PC that’s on the Exchange account.

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Apple is also taking strong measures to make sense of the now-scattershot “Notification” feature many apps now provide, from e-mail to SMS to news alerts. A Notification panel that will be standard on iOS will make alerts easier to manage and, depending on whether it works as Apple says it will, much more relevant. The more relevant, the “stickier” apps will be that provide useful updates.

But iCloud and over-the-air features (including iOS updates themselves) will also lead to additional security concerns, as well as increased frustration with bandwidth limitations now present in both 3G and WiFi networks. In particular, don’t underestimate the bandwidth bottleneck issues. In the last several weeks we’ve seen that, in iCloud for iTunes, large files are unavailable for download over 3G networks, and WiFi networks with limited bandwidth (2 Mbps or less) can sometimes provide major frustration.

But the overwhelming number of new features in iOS 5 will also put Apple’s competitors’ feet to the fire. For example, a key, out-of-the-box feature in HP’s TouchPad with WebOS is the ability to multi-task and view multiple apps at the same time. Apple’s iOS 5 will also provide that capability immediately on millions of iPad and iPad 2 devices already out in the market.

iPhone and iPad penetration into business and the corporate enterprise is now somewhat of a losing battle for VARs and CIOs who have been seeking to stave off the disruption to IT that they can bring; with the addition of iOS 5, that means even more disruption – both positive way and in a time-consuming, challenging way. For those whose businesses contend with iPhones, iPads and iPod touch devices, the better part of valor would be to immediately obtain the latest iOS 5 beta and get to work examining the potential issues.