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Top new iOS 12 features helpful for the enterprise

Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference this week showed some new iOS 12 features that could be exciting for Apple users in the enterprise.

Several features of the new iOS may help improve productivity for business users, by limiting distractions and improving workplace communications.  Apple’s iOS 12 is expected to arrive in September.

Set screen time limits

Apple’s Health app, which focuses on health and wellness, is kicking it up a notch by allowing users to track and set limits on their phone usage.

To prevent users from receiving an influx of notifications, Siri will suggest users to turn off notifications. Support for grouped notifications enables users to assign levels of urgency to notifications categorized by topic and thread. A new Downtime feature limits users to only make and receive phone calls and access certain apps within a scheduled time period.

The new iOS 12 features could increase productivity for employees that are easily distracted by notifications. Fifty-five percent of employees listed their cell phones as their primary work distraction, according to a 2016 study from CareerBuilder.

“[These iOS 12 features] are meant more for management of phone addiction, but if the data can be extracted from the device, it may also prove useful for the enterprise,” said Jack Gold, president and analyst at J. Gold Associates in Northborough, Mass.

FaceTime extends its reach

Another of the new iOS 12 features, a new FaceTime capability allows up to 32 people in a video chat. This feature competes with third-party video conferencing apps such as Houseparty.

The new FaceTime interface includes tiles that expand and minimize based on who is speaking. This update could quell awkward silences and confusing overlapping of voices in large conference meetings — or it could just highlight the flaws.

“Some companies use FaceTime, so the ability to conference with multiple people at once might prove useful,” Gold said.

Apple brings back the walkie-talkie… sort of

In addition to the new iOS 12 features, there was news around the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch hasn’t made waves in the enterprise just yet, but a new app called Walkie Talkie could offer some interesting use cases.

The app allows users to send short voice messages to other Apple Watch users via cellular and Wi-Fi — a feature reminiscent of the ever-chirping Sprint Nextel of the mid-2000s. It could assist field service workers who want instant communication on the go.

“The consumer messaging space is powerful, and there are a lot of great features for consumers to communicate with each other,” said Stacey Epstein, CEO of Zinc, a mobile messaging provider in San Francisco. “The enterprise needs to catch up and have an enterprise sanctioned version of what the consumer space does.”

Unified Communications