So the iOS 10 dust has started to settle now after its formal release. Like the majority of iOS users, I was keen to get the newest OS onto my iPhone 6S. It’s a yearly ritual for many and lays the foundation for how we will use our iPhones and iPads for the coming 12 months or so. There is always the normal mixture of users and commentators who love the updated OS and those who run around trying to find reasons to dismiss the latest version.

If nothing else, it keeps bloggers and technology writers off the street for a while. But regardless of your view, no one can deny the impact and importance.
A core (excuse the pun) OS update like this literally impacts billions of devices worldwide. The scope for a global scale mess-up is immense and quite scary. Can you imagine the news headlines if Apple made a mess of such an event? But thankfully it’s passed largely without a problem.

Why the timing is important

At Wandera we worked tirelessly to ensure our app and service had day-one support for the new OS and, like Apple, we are thrilled to say that our own launch of the new app has gone very well. Like many of the mobile administrators who operate Wandera for our customers, and for us as a global service provider, monitoring user OS and app update metrics is a key operational activity. How many devices that have the latest OS and app is clearly very important to maintaining compatibility and as you have noticed time and time again, maintaining new OS updates (major or minor) is one of the top ways to maintain the overall security. Read more about a recent example here. Indeed our own service is now flagging older iOS version as more risky because anything below 9.3.5 has some nasty exploits hanging around deep in its bowls. We help customers keep abreast of their OS updates and proactively report against those older OS versions. For those stubborn users who are “too busy” to update, Wandera offers a unique carrot and stick to help get those guys over the line and into a secure place.

An uptick in update speed

The public facing statistics seem to indicate that iOS 10 will overtake iOS 9 as the fastest adoption rate of any iOS release and our own figures support that and even exceed the figure of over 34%. That’s pretty amazing for an OS that only shipped a week ago and runs all those billions of devices. Its success bolsters Apple famous ease-of-use story in that many of the devices that have updated were done by the users themselves (no IT required). My own 12 year old son managed to install it before I’d even woken up last Tuesday and a colleague’s daughter of the same age echoed this like millions of other young (and old) consumers globally. Likewise, our MDM partners leveraging the built-in restrictions and controls were able to ensure that many of their devices had the latest Wandera app installed without even a blink of an eye and still more users with “automatic app store updates enabled” had this magic happen without even noticing.
The technology that makes up the iOS ecosystem continues to hum along with enormous efficiency and this in turn brings better security and more features and functionalities to all the devices in our pockets. To do this on the scale that we are now accustomed to is indeed a modern marvel.

What of the others… and those left behind..

So with any evolution there are always those who get left behind or become casualties of change. We still support the older iOS versions but I can tell you it is an increasing challenge to bring these devices along. They are simply becoming more of a risk for our customers as they get older and cannot be updated. We probably all know someone hanging onto that iPhone 4 with iOS 7 or iOS 8 and while I take my hat off for keeping those devices running with (probably) “your favourite version of the OS ever”, please be warned, you really are at risk.
This situation is certainly not an Apple only scenario. All OS platforms mobile or otherwise face the same challenges with security and how evolution ultimately makes today’s versions vulnerable in the near future.
If you are responsible for mobile strategy, it’s important that when you think about the lifespan of your mobile devices, please don’t try to “sweat your assets” too long past the point in which they are no longer serviceable from an OS or app perspective. You might be able to squeeze an extra 12-18 months from a device that is languishing on that old OS, but every day you do, runs the risk of having an increasingly vulnerable estate. It’s a false economy that needlessly puts your business (and your users personal data) at risk.
I also advocate not choosing those bargain devices instead of making a much more sound investment in, for example, Apple or Samsung Knox devices. To steal a quote from a presenter at a conference last week, it’s “the high price of those cheap devices”.
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