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Apple, SAP iOS SDK hits the shelves for enterprise developers

Apple and SAP have followed through on their promise to deliver a new iOS SDK that allows developers to build business apps based on SAP back-end technology.

With the new developer toolkit, out this week, developers can create apps using Apple’s Swift programming language and connect them to SAP systems for business workflows and data analytics. SAP already has its own mobile apps, but the knock against them is that they look like desktop applications formatted for a mobile device — not specifically designed for the smaller form factor.

“Apple is in every enterprise right now, except people aren’t using high-end business apps on those phones,” said Eric Klein, director of mobile software at VDC Research Group in Natick, Mass. “But it’s beginning to happen, and SAP will really spur that along.”

The iOS SDK allows SAP shops to customize apps for their use cases. Businesses can build iOS apps for retail workers to more easily collect customer information, for example, or for workers at construction sites and warehouses who want to access product data without stopping to open up a laptop.

As for the vendors, SAP benefits from getting more complex business apps on iOS. Apple, meanwhile, moves the needle on its initiative to move into the enterprise with iPhones, iPads and Swift-made apps.

“Swift is very, very popular with the developer community, and they’re going to want to use it to make these apps,” Klein said.

Apple has focused on increasing its presence in business via other partnerships with IBM and Cisco over the past three years. IBM and Apple have been working on iOS apps that incorporate IBM’s Watson technology, and Cisco has delivered a fast lane on its networks for iOS devices to get better connectivity when accessing business content.