Buyers Guide for macOS & iOS in the Enterprise

This article is more of a productivity article aimed at getting first time users up and running quickly on their Mac, iPhones or iPads. Anyone looking to buy one of these products or Tech Support teams that help employees with their computers would find this article helpful. The thoughts shared here are personal, readers are welcome to share their own thoughts and experiences.

The article is not a comprehensive guide. Its aim is to give potential users some idea as to how the devices can be used in their work environment. Specifically from an Application perspective.

Macintosh

macFamily


Which one to buy?

This depends on how the device is going to be used. Here are 3 general classifications:

Basic Usage

Basic usage would mean simple day to day tasks. These are the tasks that would qualify for:

  • Checking emails
  • Browsing the web
  • Social Media
  • Listening to Music
  • Watching Movies
  • Composing letters
  • Preparing Presentations & running presentations
  • Note taking

In such a case you may want to consider buying a MacBook or a MacBook Air. If portability is not required then a Mac Mini would also do.

At entry level configurations these devices would do the job very well.

Intermediate Usage

If the tasks being performed are a little more demanding then you may want to consider higher configuration devices. Again in most cases the  MacBook or a MacBook Air would do. If portability is not required then a Mac Mini would also do. In all these cases consider one with slightly higher configuration.

For situations where the compute power is important you may even consider the MacBook Pro. For example, if there are programmers who need to work with a high configuration Mac and they need portability, then you can consider the MacBook Pro.

Pro Usage

This indicates that the tasks being performed are very compute intensive. These are some of the job profiles which may demand compute intensive resources:

  • Programmers
  • Video Editors
  • Audio Editors
  • Post Production Teams
  • Marketing & Creative Teams
  • Scientific Research

For such situations the higher end desktops & MacBook Pros would be required. So the iMac or the highest configuration Mac Mini, or the 15″ MacBook Pro would be best suited for such environments.

In some situations even more powerful computers would be required. The iMac Pro & Mac Pro should then be considered.


Built In Applications that might be useful

Productivity Tools

There are 3 applications which are a part of the suite called iWork that are very useful in organisations.

  • PAGES: Built in word processing application. You can easily created documents, letters, reports and even have them exported in Microsoft Office compatible format.
  • KEYNOTE: Built in presentation applications. Enables you to create powerful presentations from scratch. Like Pages it is possible to create presentations that are compatible with PowerPoint.
  • NUMBERS: Built in spreadsheet application. Enables you to quickly create spreadsheets and export them to Excel if needed.

The other advantage is the fact that these applications are also accessible from the cloud. Tight integration with iCloud means that you can make changes to documents from your Mac, iPhone, iPad, or iCloud.com.

Creative Tools

There are 2 applications which are available for creative purpose. These might be handy for people working in the creative departments.

  • IMOVIE: Quick create movies using videos, audios and photos that you have.
  • GARAGEBAND: A simple Music creation application that comes with a library of different instruments.

Popular Third Party Applications

These are just some of the applications.

Office Suite

Productivity

Cloud

Creative

Security

Communication

Data Backup

Virtualisation (Running Windows or Windows Applications on the Mac)


Some tasks that can be done with built in Applications

  • Scanning Documents using Preview
  • Signing Documents using Preview
  • Record Screen Activity using QuickTime
  • Record a quick movie using QuickTime
  • Automate Tasks & create workflows using Automator
  • Encrypt Data using FileVault
  • Show your iPhone/iPad screen on a projector using QuickTime on Mac
  • Backup data using Time Machine

iPhone/iPad

iosFamily


Which one to buy?

The decision on whether to buy the iPhone &/or the iPad depends a lot on what you intend to use it for. As such the major differences between the 2 devices are:

  • iPads tend to have larger screens
  • iPhone has cellular communication capability
  • iPhones are more portable as compared to iPads
  • iPads are better suited for long duration usage
  • iPads tend to be higher powered devices

While it appears that iPads are better than iPhones, that is not necessarily the case. iPhones being smaller and more compact have many advantages too.

Ideally speaking having both, an iPhone and an iPad, is the best thing to do.

To make a decision use the task list below to help find out if you need an iPhone or an iPad or both.

Note, even though I mention that the tasks can be performed easily on an iPhone, many of the tasks can also be done very easily on the iPad. The point is to illustrate ease of use in situations where you have to perform tasks with a single hand or when you are on the move.

Tasks easily performed on an iPhone

  • Making calls
  • Messaging
  • Scheduling activities such as: Reminders, Appointments, Events
  • Taking Photos & Videos
  • Emails
  • Banking Transactions
  • Finding Transit Directions
  • Finding a Taxi
  • Making E-Payments

Tasks easily performed on the iPad

  • Writing letters & blogs
  • Creating Presentations
  • Working with spreadsheets
  • Creating posters, flyers
  • Working with business applications
  • Content creation

If you do a mixture of tasks from both the lists then getting both an iPhone as well as an iPad is a good idea.

A thing to keep in mind is that the Pro version of the iPad also has a nice keyboard accessory as well as the  Pencil available. These 2 products make the whole experience so much better.

Screen size consideration

iPhone and iPad screen sizes vary quite a bit. Here are some tips on the tasks which can be best performed on specific screen sizes.

Creative Work

Generally speaking, creative tasks require a large screensize. So for an iPhone the smallest screen you should have is 4.7″. Similarly for the iPad the smallest screen you should have is the  9.7″.

Documents, letters, spreadsheets

These tasks are better performed on the iPads as such you can go for any screen size in them. Of the lot, its a lot easier to create documents and letters on the phone than spreadsheets. Again, for phones one should the larger the screen size the better.

Presentations

Like documents and spreadsheets presentations are a lot easier to create on the iPad. They can also be created from the phones. The larger the phone the better.

Messaging & Communication

This is one aspect where the screen size is not so much of an issue. In fact, some users may find the smaller screen size a lot better. Typically, the iPhone is a much better device than the iPad for this.

Productivity & General Tasks

This includes calling taxis, ordering food, taking notes, control keynote presentations, setting up appointments and reminders. These tasks are also best performed on iPhones. They can be done well with the iPad too.


Built In Applications that might be useful

Productivity Tools

There are 3 applications which are a part of the suite called iWork that are very useful in organisations.

  • PAGES: Built in word processing application. You can easily created documents, letters, reports and even have them exported in Microsoft Office compatible format.
  • KEYNOTE: Built in presentation applications. Enables you to create powerful presentations from scratch. Like Pages it is possible to create presentations that are compatible with PowerPoint.
  • NUMBERS: Built in spreadsheet application. Enables you to quickly create spreadsheets and export them to Excel if needed.

The other advantage is the fact that these applications are also accessible from the cloud. Tight integration with iCloud means that you can make changes to documents from your Mac, iPhone, iPad, or iCloud.com.

Creative Tools

There are 2 applications which are available for creative purpose. These might be handy for people working in the creative departments.

  • IMOVIE: Quick create movies using videos, audios and photos that you have.
  • GARAGEBAND: A simple Music creation application that comes with a library of different instruments.

Other Apps

  • Notes
  • Voice Memos
  • Files

Popular Third Party Applications

Office Suite

Productivity

Cloud

Creative

Security

Communication


Some tasks that can be done with built in Applications

  • Scanning Documents using Notes
  • Recording Voice Memos
  • Control HomeKit devices
  • Edit PDFs through iBooks
  • Create PDF documents through pages & then edit the PDFs either through iBooks or markup utilities
  • Record and Edit videos using the camera & iMovie

Useful iPad Accessories

 TV

There are a few things that can be done with the  TV. It can be used to mirror both macOS & iOS Devices. In which case apps such as Reflector are not really required.

It is very easy to setup and use. This can make projecting both the iPad screen as well as the iOS Screen very easy & it allows you to move across the room as you are not physically wired to the projector.

Final Word

As we can see there are a wide variety of apps available both for macOS & iOS. These include built in apps as well as Third party apps. The community of developers creating these apps is strong and growing. There are many more apps which can be used for a wide variety of purposes.

This article should give the user a fair idea as to the capabilities of devices such as iPads, MacBooks and the rest of the line up. The good thing is that for enterprise environments its easily possible to create apps that are tailored to the needs of that organisation and this makes the devices much more attractive.

What to do before buying/selling Apple devices?

Apple’s devices are getting more and more popular by the day. People are really excited to get hold of the newest product that comes out of its stable. This guide walks you through some of the things you need to keep in mind while buying used devices or selling your existing device. This may not apply when buying a new product from the store for the first time, however, its still good to know these things & run your device through a checklist.

Note the checklist provided below is by no means comprehensive nor is it complete. There might be other things to keep in mind before buying &/or selling used devices, depending on the geographic area, situation, and circumstances.

Buying

Before buying a used products run them through this checklist. Some items are device specific.

  • Make sure there is no physical damage to the device. Dents, scratches, cracks, missing screws.
  • Start the device & make sure it loads up as expected.
  • Check the different user interface elements: touch screen, 3d touch, keyboard, iSight camera, speakers, home button, Microphone
  • Check the different ports: USB, Ethernet, FireWire, Thunderbolt, USB-C, HDMI, Audio-out, SD card reader, lightning connector, 30-pin connector
  • Check the power cord, adapter & charging port
  • Note the version of the OS. Eg: OS X 10.10.3
  • Note the build number
  • Check the model number. This is important for Software Upgrades/Hardware upgrades. Older hardware may have an upper limit on the hardware expansion capability &/or the ability to run latest software optimally.
  • Check the Support Coverage for your device. This is important, especially if you have to take your device in for repairs.
    https://checkcoverage.apple.com/in/en/
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204308 – Find your devices Serial Number
  • Note down the serial number
  • Make sure that the device does not contain any personal data belonging to the seller. While it is the sellers responsibility to ensure this, it still is a good idea to verify that there are no accounts are signed into. This is VERY IMPORTANT for iOS Devices due to its implications on Activation Lock.
    Activation lock is used to prevent anyone from using a stolen device: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201365
  • Before buying please check the Activation lock status: https://www.icloud.com/activationlock/
  • Make sure there is no personal digital content in the form of Apps/Song/Movies or documents.
  • For Mac, make sure that there is no Firmware Password that is set.

Selling

The list above should give you a good idea on what you need to do while planning to sell your Apple device.

  • Delete all personal data. Make sure you have a backup of the same.
  • Remove any applications you may have installed.
  • Sign out of all accounts: Gmail, Hotmail, Facebook, iCloud, Apple ID…
  • Delete any user accounts you may have created. Leave a single admin account.
  • If you have used any Encryption service then make sure you turn off encryption before selling the device. This is more of a precaution to prevent issues that may arise in the future.
  • This article illustrates what to do if you are selling giving away iOS Devices: https://support.apple.com/en-in/HT201351
  • As a good measure, delink your Apple ID from your device. You can do this by:
    • Go to http://www.icloud.com
    • Sign in with your Apple ID
    • Click on Settings
    • Select the device you want to give away: IMG_2941
    • Click on the cross to remove it from your Apple IDIMG_2978
  • De-register from iMessage.
  • Remove any custom settings, passwords (Firmware Password) that may compromise your security or prevent the user from fully using the device.
  • As a good measure completely erase the hard drive of your device.
  • Document items such as OS Version, Serial Number for your own reference.

Enterprises may take additional steps

  • To ensure data security, Enterprises may perform Secure Erase or drive replacement to prevent recovery of corporate information, when assigning devices to employees or selling them out in the market.
  • Enterprises should also protect against Activation lock. When collecting iOS Devices, assigned to an employee who is leaving the organisation, always check to make sure that the device is not locked to the employees Apple ID.

These are some of the things that you can do to make the transaction easy on both the sides.

 

Managing all your data on iOS devices

In todays interconnected world managing all your data is quite important. Most of us end up having more than one smart device that we use everyday. As time goes on we will buy a newer version of the device. It is not necessary that we will get a newer version of each smart computer that we own simultaneously. This means that we have to pay special attention to making sure that our data stays up to date on all the devices & that there is no accidental loss of data.

There are various solutions available to users which easily takes care of data management problems commonly faced by multiple users. One of the most common solutions is to make sure that all your data is available on the cloud. I have given a brief overview on the different cloud services available in my previous article.

However, storing information on the cloud is not enough. Some effort still needs to be done on the users end to ensure that the data is there everywhere they want it. In this article I will be talking about managing your data, migrating your data & backing up your data on your iOS devices.

The starting point for this is the iCloud service. It is a free service provided by Apple & is a must for iPhones & iPads.

Through this article I will be referring to the iOS device as iPhone, however, the steps apply to any iOS device. A few settings & options may change depending on the version of the OS on your computer & your mobile device. The steps mentioned below would be applicable for iOS 8. They may be applicable for earlier versions, but all features may not be available.


Moving your data (migrating) from your old iPhone to your new iPhone

This is a very common situation. Most people have a devices for a few years & place a lot of data on it. Once they purchase a new device getting the same data onto the new device is the challenge. This involves a few steps.

STEP 1

  1. Make sure your iCloud service is turned on. By default iCloud provides sync capabilities for the information enumerated below. Note that not all services needn’t be on. But its a good idea to make sure that it is on at the very least for migration purposes.
    1. Contacts
    2. Calendar Events
    3. Reminders
    4. Photos
    5. Notes
    6. Documents for Keynote/Numbers/Pages
    7. Any documents you might have placed in the iCloud Drive (iOS 8 & later).
    8. Passbook
  2. Data provided by other services such as Google, Microsoft & any other provider will be taken care of by their respective accounts.
  3. Prepare a list of apps that don’t take advantage of the iCloud service or any other cloud based service. Note: Some apps do take advantage of iCloud but need the feature to be turned on explicitly. You may have to back this data up manually. If there are online accounts associated with the app, then make sure you are signed in & that the account offers data retrieval at a later point in time.
  4. Take a backup of your phone on your computer using iTunes.

STEP 2:

  1. Turn on your new iPhone & follow the screen steps.
  2. When asked “if you would like to setup the iPhone as a new phone or not” choose the option to restore from backup (do this only if you plan to restore from a backup taken via iTunes or from iCloud).
  3. This will prompt you to connect your iPhone to the computer where you last backed up your old iPhone.
  4. Once the restore is complete simply sign in with your Apple ID & start using your new iPhone from where you had left off.
  5. All the Apps, songs, movies, books purchased using your Apple ID will be available on your new iPhone. Apps will be available subject to OS Version compatibility.

For those who do not have a computer based backup or don’t have a computer can choose to backup their phone onto iCloud. Note that this will require sufficient free space available on the cloud. When they are prompted to restore users will have to sign in with their Apple ID & restore the backup from there.


Moving data from your computer to your new iPhone or Moving from another smartphone to iPhone

This is for first time buyers or people switching to the iPhone. No matter which is the case there is one important thing to be done. You have to move your data onto a cloud service which is compatible with iPhone.

From a computer

iCloud is available for iOS Devices, Macs & Windows. So if you are moving your data from Windows onto your iPhone you could consider running iCloud for Windows. Additionally the iCloud service is also accessible from the browser. So you can access many documents across both the platforms.

Apart from this you can also use iTunes for Windows to move your data from the computer to the iPhone.

From another smartphone

This will mean that you will have to use a third party cloud service. Good choices for something like this would be Google Drive or Dropbox. Other services such as Evernote could also be used for the same.

  1. On your current device transfer as much content as you can to the cloud service. Note that apps & media purchased on the smartphone may not necessarily be available due to compatibility reasons.
  2. On your new iPhone sign in with the same cloud service & pull in all your data.

Backing up your iPhone/iPad

Backing up data is very important. This is a step missed quite often by many users. A common mistake made is in believing that they can restore all their data from the iCloud whenever they wish. While that is true, iCloud is not meant to act as a backup. You can choose to save your backup on iCloud, but this is simply using the iCloud storage space for holding the backup & is not otherwise accessible.

There are 2 options to backing up your iPhones data. One is to back it up onto your computer using iTunes, the other is to back it up onto iCloud.

Backing up onto iCloud

Pros

  • Your backup is immediately available.
  • No need to have a separate computer just for this.
  • Backup can be restored from any location as long as internet connection is available.

Cons

  • A very good internet connection would be required.
  • The backup is restricted by the amount of space available on the cloud.
Backing up using iTunes

Pros

  • There is no storage limit. Your backup can be very large.
  • You can have multiple large backups.
  • Optional encryption capability.
  • With WiFi, based syncing the backups happen automatically.

Cons

  • You have to be physically connected to the computer using cable or WiFi to perform the backup.
  • You have to be physically connected to the computer using cable or WiFi to restore the backup.

Cloud Services Demystified

A lot of us use cloud services. Here we will talk about some of the popular services & how to use them to maximise your advantage.

What is Cloud?

Cloud Service is a technology that makes your data available across multiple devices. Depending on service provider this may even be cross platform. This is great as in todays day & age most of us make use of at least 2 smart devices. A common confusion amongst a lot of users is that cloud is a backup technology. This is not strictly true. As I mentioned earlier, when you enable cloud services they ensure that your data across all devices is the same. So if for example, you delete a file on one device, it is deleted across all the devices. It is not possible to go & retrieve the file back from the cloud. To protect yourself from such problems you should look into a cloud based backup technology.

What are the advantages?

There are numerous advantages with cloud based solutions.

  1. Firstly, your data is immediately accessible across multiple devices without your manual intervention.
  2. Storage management especially handling portable storage drives is no longer required.
  3. It is highly cost effective. In most cases the data that we consume is fairly small. The free version for most of the services does provide at least 2Gb of data. In most cases there is the option of purchasing additional storage space if needed.
  4. Its easy to use, with no major technical requirements.
  5. Most of the providers support multiple platforms & devices.

Common Cloud Service Providers & services offered

googleDrive

Google Drive: The google drive is a free account that every user gets along with their gmail account. With unto 15GB free storage this is an ideal option for those who want to store large amounts of data. It is also an ideal option for those who wish to share files & collaborate with other users. Works best when used within the Google ecosystem.

WebLink: drive.google.com


onedrive

Similar to google drive. Microsofts OneDrive allows you to store files on the cloud. This comes free with your existing hotmail.com or outlook.com accounts.  Works best when used within the Microsoft Ecosystem.

WebLink: https://onedrive.live.com/about/en-us/


dropbox

Yet another popular cloud storage & sharing service. While it has limited capacity of 2Gb it has the advantage of being accessible across multiple platforms. The storage capacity does increase for shared collaborative accounts.

WebLink: http://www.dropbox.com


evernote

Evernote is a popular app for storing information on the cloud. Apart from just offering cloud services for documents it also has a lot of other built in features such as card reader, calendar, notes that makes it a very popular app. The fact that it runs on almost all the most commonly used platforms only adds to its value. There are paid options available but they are for additional features rather than more storage explicitly.

WebLink: https://evernote.com


icloudDrive

This is Apple’s cloud solution primarily for OS X & iOS devices. Just like Google drive it ensures that the data across your OS X & iOS devices is the same. The fact that it is accessible via the web make it useful. This service is not available on all the platforms barring the desktop version of Windows for which a free download is available. Works best when used within the Apple ecosystem.

WebLink: http://www.icloud.com


Owncloud

Unlike the other services available this one is OpenSource. It has numerous advantages that make it a very attractive option, especially for businesses thinking of providing cloud services to their employees.

The main advantage is the fact that you can configure & host your own cloud services (as the name says). This means that you have control over the amount of space allocated for users & importantly security.

Apart from that there are native apps available along with a web portal to access all your data from almost all devices anywhere. This means that it is very easy to deploy without the headache of compatibility issues.


The following table gives a basic comparison on what all is offered, note that there maybe more services provided which I may have skipped, the table only highlights the most important points.

Cloud Services Comparison

Cloud Services Comparison