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IT experts want better security features in iPad 3

IT pros say Apple needs to add a number of security features to make the iPad 3 enterprise-friendly. Here’s what Apple might deliver and what IT experts hope to see in iPad 3.

Though Apple hasn’t confirmed which features will come on the iPad 3, IT pros know the features they want – and most have to do with better security.

There’s been rampant speculation about the release of Apple’s next iPad device, with reports of a release this month, on Steve Jobs’ birthday in February or sometime in the first quarter. Apple released the first two iPad devices in April 2010 and March 2011, respectively.

As for new features, the iPad 3 is rumored to have a retina display using IGZO (indium, gallium and zinc oxide) technology, a quad-core processor and a bigger battery. There could even be two different iPads released -- one a high-end version sporting an 8 megapixel camera and the other a mid-range device intended to compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Barnes and Noble’s Nook tablet devices.

Apple didn’t respond for comment on what features the new iPad would have or when that device would be released, but many assume the iPad 3 will be released in 2012. Barring the Mayan apocalypse, it’s sure to be a huge hit.

Meanwhile, IT professionals are coming to grips with the increasing demand from employees who want to take advantage of enterprise iPad use.

“Apple has come quite a ways in the use of enterprise,” said Don Sorcinelli, a product engineer at Tangoe, a communications software provider, and editor-in-chief of Boston Pocket PC, a mobile technology blog. “Outside of [BlackBerry maker] RIM, which has always been the enterprise platform of choice, if you told me five years ago that Apple would have the most friendly enterprise platform, I would’ve been quite surprised.”

But Apple’s iPad presents some problems for enterprises, despite advances in data security and device management.

IT experts have a list of features and apps that make their jobs easier when it comes to integrating the iPad within the enterprise.  Not surprisingly, most of the suggestions focus on security and all have different approaches to obtaining a safe and secure device.

Here’s what a few of them wished for:

Michael Oh, founder of Tech Superpowers

“I would be excited about fingerprint recognition to use as a password. If there was a way to integrate that type of feature that would be hot for enterprise. The IT guys are always looking for as complex a login process as possible. To follow that with a fingerprint or some human biometrics piece would please IT departments but also be an easy login for users.”

“I would also love to see Apple provide a cloud storage solution beyond the music, photos, etc. and do an actual file system. There are different ways to do that with third-party apps, but there’s no official way to do it. It would be interesting if Apple provided an enterprise solution that you could share between devices and offer control over. It’s a pipedream of them entering the enterprise file system arena, but the benefit would be a system level solution that every app developer could integrate into their app experience.”

Brian Katz, director of mobility engineering at Sanofi-Aventis

“I’d like to see the battery life to be the same or better. We’d love to see the same Bluetooth standard in iPhone 4S included because you can connect and use other devices with it.”

“More than that, remote viewing would be a big one. Some people want remote control or remote wiping, but that’s not as important to us as remote viewing is. To see what a person is doing on their iPad to help them use it better would be nice. Apple hasn’t done that yet but we’d love to see that.”

Don Sorcinelli, product engineer with Tangoe

“Definitely application blacklisting or whitelisting. Apple does allow [access to] the app store to be shut off devices entirely but users would come to [IT departments] with pitchforks. If users try to download an unapproved app they get a message like ‘this is not a corporate approved application.’ It would be similar to blocking websites.  . . . Apple has to provide it to the user and their partners for device management.”

“A better handling of sandboxing would be another one. If corporate data could be sandboxed, then you would just have to just wipe the corporate data. Right now there are only elaborate third-party solutions. These devices are for work but also personal. It’s not about the email, games, media, calendars or contacts, it’s about sensitive corporate documents I’m carrying on the device.”

Ben Schorr, IT consultant and CEO of Roland Schorr & Tower

“In some industries you have to do auditing, time stamping, and create access or events logs, like in the medical profession, for example. It would be valuable to be able to do that on OS level. It can’t be an app because it’s a security issue surrounding that data. If everything is an app, it gets messy to update apps all the time and it’s one less level of control for IT departments.”

“Along those lines, remote wipe would be pretty important. I’d like to see more devices incorporate something like entering the passcode wrong five times automatically wipes the device. That’s the best solution I can think of. If you’re the user and accidentally enters it wrong that many times, well, you could just re-sync the device.”

Francis Czekalski, enterprise solutions consultant with GreenPages

“I’d like to see the pin code be [longer] on the iPad. That lock screen could be stronger.  I would like to see the security increase significantly to go to greater number of digits or even alpha-numeric. Sometimes you want to leave your application open as you’re walking around a virtual environment and if you leave your device unattended a four digit code is basically a security breach.”

“Say you steal an iPad. If you hold it up to the light you can see the fingerprints and probably guess the code. You can honestly see where the fingermarks were and know what digits are used in the passcode. You just don’t know the order of the numbers, but it might only take a few guesses to get it right. The number pad should float to prevent that and the device’s data should wipe if the pass code is entered incorrectly fewer than ten times.”

“I’d also like to see some sort of feature, a security measure that leverages the location data API. Basically, a device could only be used if it were within a specific GPS area. If the device gets stolen or is out of the user area, it would just shutdown automatically. It would be a great programing feature -set it to work or home, or any area, boom the device is accounted for and secure.”

James Furbush is news writer for Email him here

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