Apple’s announcement of two new iPhones (the 5s and 5c), and the official release date and specs for iOS 7, has drawn some strong opinions, both positive and skeptical, from around the industry.

Michael Swindell, senior VP of products and strategy at Embarcadero, talked about the combined effect Apple’s new software and hardware will have in emerging markets.

“Apple announced iOS 7, the first major UI overhaul for the device that started it all,” he said. “This OS release is significant not only because it is the first major UI styling and UX change for iOS, but because it is also combined with two new blockbuster hardware announcements from Apple. The first transforms the device into a passive biometric authentication device. While there’s been much speculation on this capability, I think it has been tremendously underappreciated and undervalued in its potential to change the way we use our devices. The second major announcement is the new low-cost iPhone C, paving the way for global, cost-sensitive market adoption, most importantly, the massive Chinese smartphone market opportunity. For hundreds of millions of users, iOS 7 with its new look and feel will be their first and only iPhone experience.

“In iOS 7, dimensional buttons give way to flattened text ‘links,’ blue and gray gives way to white and pastels, and rounded UI elements with imitation dimension give way to sharp geometry with layered depth. I liked the old iOS, but that is now the old iOS. With iOS 7, Apple is drawing a visual and stylistic line between the old and new. Apple’s hardware announcements are resetting the bar higher and pushing the category forward with biometric authentication and 64-bit while it’s also opening up the iPhone to hundreds of millions of new users globally with low-cost devices. Whether you were fine with the old iOS or not, it’s fitting that there is a visual and stylistic line of demarcation between yesterday and today.”
Todd Anglin, executive vice president of cross-platform tools and services at Telerik, is excited about the developer opportunities of iOS 7.

“For some developers, this iOS change represents opportunity. Consumers are likely to start looking for iOS 7 versions of their favorite apps, so a mini-gold rush may occur as developers hope to ride the wave of interest in new iOS 7-ready apps,” he said. “Some developers, who have for years been largely forced to give away iOS app updates for free, are using the major iOS 7 transition to introduce new versions of their apps that must be repurchased. Their hope is that consumers familiar with the pre-iOS 7 version of their app will be willing to pay again for an updated iOS 7 variant.”

Daniel Jebaraj, vice president of Syncfusion, sees Apple’s announcements in light of the company’s larger competition with Google and Microsoft. He is skeptical of whether the new iPhones or iOS will win new customers from its competitors.

“Not very long ago, the Android and Windows Phone platforms were playing catch-up with iOS,” he said. “Oh, how times have changed. Google and Microsoft have aggressively pushed bold changes that now define the mobile user experience. iOS 7 updates such as the improved UI for managing multi-tasking and for handling multiple browser tabs have direct equivalents in the Android and Windows Phone platforms. iOS 7 and the new iPhones with neat features such as Touch ID are definitely great updates that are sure to keep many Apple customers happy, but I don’t see them winning anyone over from other competitive platforms.”

Christian Kane, an infrastructure and operations professionals analyst for Forrester, talked about the most important updates for iOS 7 and what they mean for IT.

“Along with a major design update, iOS 7 also includes a number of improvements targeted at IT organizations managing their workforce’s countless iPhones and iPads,” he said. “To date, managing iOS devices has meant a lot of manual configuration, workarounds, and security dilemmas for IT while bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs have raised significant concerns around application ownership and access on the platform.

“New MDM configuration options mean better application management for all apps. The iOS 7 release should offer a number of management options for any application installed. While it’s not clear yet how much functionality Apple will offer here initially, it’s safe to assume we’ll see better application push/removal options, preconfiguration, and monitoring.

“Streamlined MDM enrollment means IT saves a lot of time with device onboarding. Before this release, MDM enrollment for company-owned devices required manual activation and configuration steps for each device, and employee-owned devices required a back-and-forth between IT and the employee. iOS 7 offers a much easier enrollment process for MDM vendors to leverage, hopefully eliminating most of the time spent on this and upgrading the experience employees have with IT.

” ‘Open in’ management means BYOD gets easier with the separation of work and personal content. iOS 7 gives companies the ability to restrict apps like Dropbox from opening attachments or files if the policy is set. ‘Open in’ offers companies much broader control over which applications get access to corporate documents.

“App Store license management means improved license management for iOS. BYODs have provided a serious challenge for companies when it comes to license management. To date, Apple’s Volume Purchase Program hasn’t provided much more than a bulk purchase option for apps. Licenses were attached to the employee’s account, and if they left the company, they took the app with them. Now the company can retain full ownership, remove a license, and redistribute it.

“Enterprise single sign-on (SSO) means quality of life improves for IT and employees. Setting individual passwords or authentication steps for each application is cumbersome for employees and troublesome for IT pros, who help them with resets. Previously, SSO did exist via MAM tools and app wrapping, but not for apps from the App Store. Having SSO on an OS level in iOS 7 brings a huge quality-of-life improvement across the board and brings all apps into the equation.

“An efficient IT group is critical to workforce enablement, and updates like iOS 7 help advance mobile deployments in companies beyond that of strategic plans and pilot programs.”