As a follow up to my earlier post about the iPhone, I want to share some of the details of Apple’s announcement regarding the iPhone and its ability to access the Microsoft Exchange server. (Watch the video here…requires QuickTime)
During a big event on Thursday, March 6th, Apple announced that is was making the iPhone Software Development Kit available to software writers that they use at Apple to write applications for the iPhone. Additionally, at the same time, Apple will be giving the iPhone the ability to connect to Exchange servers and access PUSH email, contacts and calendars. This is possible because Apple has licensed Microsoft’s ActiveSync software, the same software used by Window’s Mobile phones to connect to Exchange Servers. The public release of the Exchange connectivity is scheduled for June of this year. Currently, the SDK is available to developers and selected enterprise customers, according to a press release dated March 6th.
“We’re excited about creating a vibrant third party developer community with potentially thousands of native applications for iPhone and iPod touch,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “iPhone’s enterprise features combined with its revolutionary Multi-Touch user interface and advanced software architecture provide the best user experience and the most advanced software platform ever for a mobile device.”
Further, the press release goes on to say: Apple has licensed Exchange ActiveSync from Microsoft and is building it right into the iPhone, so that iPhone will connect out-of-the-box to Microsoft Exchange Servers 2003 and 2007 for secure over-the-air push email, contacts, calendars and global address lists. Built-in Exchange ActiveSync support also enables security features such as remote wipe, password policies and auto-discovery. The iPhone 2.0 software supports Cisco IPsec VPN to ensure the highest level of IP-based encryption available for transmission of sensitive corporate data, as well as the ability to authenticate using digital certificates or password-based, multi-factor authentication. The addition of WPA2 Enterprise with 802.1x authentication enables enterprise customers to deploy iPhone and iPod touch with the latest standards for protection of Wi-Fi networks.
The iPhone 2.0 software provides a configuration utility that allows IT administrators to easily and quickly set up many iPhones,`including password policies, VPN setting, installing certificates, email server settings and more. Once the configuration is defined it can be easily and securely delivered via web link or email to the user. To install, all the user has to do is authenticate with a user ID or password, download the configuration and tap install. Once installed, the user will have access to all their corporate IT services.
So, having read all off that (and more if you go here) I have this to say: It’s about time! Apple missed the boat when they launched this phone by not giving it these capabilities right out of the gate.
When this software update, tentatively called version 2.0, becomes available, the iPhone will become a business class machine with the most incredible feature set currently available. I believe that every real estate agent will want to have one.
Of course you are required to use AT&T with the iPhone, which for some users is just fine, but for others who may live in areas not served well by AT&T, that could be a problem. A quick check of AT&T’s website revealed a $35.00 per month data plan that would give you unlimited data transfers.
So, my recommendation is to wait until after Apple announces the release of the 2.0 update, and go get your iPhone!