Apple has continued its push to harden the iPhone for the enterprise, previewing new features in iPhone OS 4 aimed squarely at the IT manager.
Apple today said the operating system will include an improved 'Mobile Device Management Service' - security options to give IT managers similar levels of remote-device control to what they have on Blackberry and Windows Mobile.
It said the service integrated with third-party servers wirelessly to configure, query and "even wipe or lock managed iPhones".
The new operating system, which Apple planned to release during the Australian winter, had a data-protection feature that used a user's passcode as an encryption key to lock down mail messages and attachments stored on the device.
Apple has also fixed the device's security limitations, allowing users to set longer or more complex passcodes.
The operating system allowed enterprises to "securely host and wirelessly distribute their own in-house developed apps to employees", Apple said.
And Apple improved mail options, Apple announcing support for Microsoft's Exchange Server 2010 and SSL VPN applications from Juniper and Cisco. There will be a "unified Inbox" that allowed users to see messages from all their email accounts displayed in one inbox.
The iPhone OS 4 will allow IT managers to set up multiple Exchange ActiveSync accounts.
Users can organise apps into directory-like folders, cleaning up the home screen and enabling easier navigation between groups of applications.
iPhone OS 4 will have the ability for some applications to run simultaneously.
Apple has enabled seven features to run while other applications are in operation.
These functions include background audio, VoIP calls, navigation apps and push notifications.
"Apps like Pandora can play music in the background and VoIP apps can receive a VoIP call even when the iPhone is asleep or the user is running other apps," Apple said in a statement.
"iPhone OS 4 provides multitasking to third party apps while preserving battery life and foreground app performance, which has until now proved elusive on mobile devices."
iPhone users will also be able to continue hearing directions from their navigation app whilst listening to their iPod, for example.
Apple also announced that users can switch one app to another - let's say from App A to App B, and return back to the point at which they last left App A rather than having to reload it. Also, if an app has not finished completing a task whilst open, users can switch to another app and come back when the processing is complete.
Takes on Google with iAd Advertising
Apple also used the iPhone OS 4 preview to launch a new mobile advertising platform which allows full-screen video advertisements or interactive ads to run whilst an app is open on the device.
Developers of apps can integrate these 'iAd' advertisements within their apps, and have the ad dynamically delivered to users over the wireless network.
Apple will host and serve the ads and provide developers with 60 percent of iAd revenue.