In the most recent update to its iPhoto application, Apple offered up a relatively noninformative description of the changes it had made: better "overall stability" and fixes for "minor issues in a number of areas, including Faces, Places, photo sharing, and slideshows."
One of IT's key roles is client management, which is all about defining or controlling many aspects of how users' computers function. This can include restricting access to specific applications or Web sites, configuring auto-update policies, securing various parts of the file system and setting various display preferences or log-in scripts. This is all done with an eye to easing PC setup and deployment, increasing security and ensuring compliance with internal policies or legal regulations.
Apple's iLife suite has long been a cornerstone of the company's "digital hub" strategy for organizing, managing and creatively using the array of digital media available today. In the latest version, iLife '09, the suite received major updates to almost all of its five applications. The only application that didn't gain any revolutionary new features was iDVD, Apple's tool for creating DVDs of movies and photos edited with the other iLife apps.
Apple's decision to offer a public beta of its new Safari 4 Web browser -- available for Mac OS X and Windows XP and Vista -- caught the tech world by surprise. Even more surprising are the number of innovative features it offers, including in-your-face browser interface advances, under-the-hood updates for notably speedy rendering performance, and open-standards compliance.
There's no doubt that Apple's iPhone has changed the landscape of the smart-phone industry, and indeed the mobile phone business as a whole. But one of the most revolutionary advances that Apple offered up isn't in the iPhone itself: It's the mechanism the company developed to distribute non-Apple applications to iPhone and iPod Touch users.
Apple was a busy company in 2008. Over the past twelve months, the number of Apple-branded products on the street has become so broad and ubiquitous that it's hard to go a day without seeing evidence of it, even if you're not a Mac, iPhone or iPod owner.
After the release of the iPhone 3G (and the iPhone 2.0 update for first-generation iPhones), I reviewed the challenges facing corporate IT departments integrating the iPhone as a business device. In that three-part series, I looked at how to handle mass iPhone configuration and deployments, how to configure the iPhone to function in an Exchange environment, and the issues and rewards involved in developing custom in-house iPhone apps.
Apple hasn't done much talking about Snow Leopard, the next-generation update to Mac OS X that's due to be released in 2009 (possibly within the first quarter of the year). But in what came as a surprise to many, the company has said that the new operating system will contain a limited number of new features.
In Part 2 of my series on rolling out the iPhone as a business device, I talked about integration in an Exchange environment. Though the iPhone supports all common e-mail protocols, Exchange is the only business-oriented option for offering push notification of new messages as well as over-the-air updates to calendar and contact items. Sure, push notification and update is supported by Apple's MobileMe -- and push e-mail notification is supported for Yahoo Mail accounts. But neither of these would be considered viable options for most businesses.
One of the big selling points for Mac OS X Leopard is that it is a stable operating system that is not prone to crashes, freezes, corrupted or fragmented hard drives, viruses and spyware, or the seemingly inexplicable performance losses typically associated with Windows. Overall, Leopard lives up to its reputation of simply working, without the need for a litany of maintenance routines and utilities to keep it going.
In Part 1 of this series, I looked at the mechanisms available to IT staffers to activate, deploy and configure iPhones in business environments. But the biggest new business-oriented feature available on the iPhone, thanks to the iPhone 2.x firmware (included with the iPhone 3G and available for free to users of first-generation iPhones or for US$9.95 for iPod Touch users), is the addition of ActiveSync for accessing Microsoft Exchange.
One of the major selling points for Macs and Mac OS X Leopard these days is their ability to work well in a largely Windows world. Apple offers two ways to accomplish this task: Leopard's ability to share files and printers with Windows machines, and the ability of Intel-based Macs to run Windows using either Boot Camp (which is included free as part of Leopard) or third-party virtualization tools.
Whether you're writing a report, editing home movies and posting them to YouTube, or managing complex spreadsheets, you want to do it as quickly and easily as possible. But because we all develop our own habits for using a computer -- maybe somebody showed us how to do things a certain way or we've figured them out on our own through trial and error -- we don't always work in the most efficient or organized manner.
One of biggest stories behind the release of the iPhone 3G -- and the iPhone 2.0 firmware update for first-generation iPhones -- was the inclusion of features designed for use in business environments. While many analysts and enterprise users have argued in recent weeks about whether the iPhone can replace Research In Motion's BlackBerry as the prevailing smart phone for business, little has been said about the tools and processes that Apple offers systems administrators to actually deploy and manage iPhones at work.
Terminal servers are nothing new in the computing world, particularly for enterprise environments. Citrix and Windows Terminal Services have been around for well over a decade. While terminal servers may not be new, their host operating systems (those that are available to connect users to the server) have, by and large, been versions of Windows. Last fall, a new company called AquaConnect did something unheard of: It unveiled the first Mac terminal server the world had ever seen.
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