10. When used in a classroom, could student iPads be monitored by a teacher?
This is an interesting and important question for schools. There isn't an existing iPhone OS tool for this type of monitoring (though there hasn't been much use of iPhone, or more likely iPod touches, in the classroom to warrant it). However, Apple does provide a solution for Macs in the classroom in the form of Apple Remote Desktop
. Other third parties also provide Windows or Mac-only as well as cross-platform suites that offer these capabilities.
Given Apple's stronghold in education and the potential of the iPad as a digital learning and textbook tool, I wouldn't be surprised to see the company produce a variation of Apple Remote Desktop for the iPad. Ideally this would ship with the iPad for the summer buying season for education, but it would probably be something further down the road.
11. Can the iPad serve as a thin client device?
It seems pretty much guaranteed that thin client solutions will ship for the iPad sometime this year. Citrix and Wyse have already announced plans to develop full blown thin client solutions
that will allow access to a server-hosted virtual desktop. Both companies already have a client for the iPhone, though its usability is a bit limited by the screen size. With a larger screen and more processing power, there will definitely be robust options for virtually running Windows 7 (as well as other OSes) on the iPad.
Similarly, there are a wide range of free and paid iPhone apps for remotely managing a computer or server. Expect these to offer added usability and more advanced features on the iPad.
12. Will iWork be compatible with other systems?
Yes. The existing version of iWork of Mac OS X offers compatibility with most major office/productivity document types, most notably all the variations of Microsoft Office file types. This compatibility will be carried over to Apple's iPad-specific version of iWork.
Additionally, several mobile office suites such as Quickoffice are already available for the iPhone OS and will almost certainly be available in iPad-specific flavors soon after the iPad's release. Among the various features of these applications are the ability to directly interact with Google Docs and other cloud-based services.
13. Can custom in-house applications be developed for iPad users?
Yes. Apple offers an enterprise version of its iPhone Developer Program
. While more expensive than the $99 individual developer program, the enterprise option includes the ability to develop and deploy applications to devices within your network without dealing with the App Store approval process. This allows companies to develop and deploy internal-only tools.
Additionally, companies can develop Web-based applications that conform to standards for display in the mobile version of Safari. These Web-based solutions can still take advantage of several core iPhone OS features, including location-based services (more information is available at Apple's Safari Dev Center
14. Will the iPad offer compliance with HIPPA or other government-mandated security and privacy standards?
In itself, the iPad likely won't meet HIPPA standards or those that may be mandated by various local, state and federal government agencies or privacy laws. However, there will be some options to work around privacy standards issues. One is to develop Web-based tools that allow iPad users to access confidential data securely without storing data on the device.
Similarly native applications could be developed where no data is stored on the iPad and the connection to the host server is encrypted. Also an application could be written such that its information store on the device is encrypted.
Talking about HIPPA specifically, the MacPractice suite (an iPad version of which is in development) represents proof that there are options. Another option is the ability to use the iPad as a thin client, which allows access to a broader range of features as well as offering security by not storing data on the device itself.
15. What types of business functions is the iPad well suited for and which ones will it not be able to handle?
Exactly what type of uses the iPad will be best suited for will be most likely driven by the apps that are designed to take advantage of its features.
However, the form factor will make it useful for sales and marketing professionals who are on the go and need a lightweight solution for displaying presentations, checking in with clients by e-mail or other messaging format, and scheduling meetings on the go.
With cloud-based solutions such as Salesforce.com, some of the business intelligence apps available from Cisco and CRM and collaboration tools including Marketcircle's Daylight
, there are lots of options. There's also a wide range of apps that plug into solutions like Basecamp
(all of which already exist in an iPhone app format), so there are distinct possibilities for many mobile professionals or executives beyond sales.
The iPad also has the potential to be very effective in medical practices as tool for telehealth and telemedicine. The extra screen real estate compared to smartphones and light weight will make it a portable device for reviewing and entering electronic medical records. Of course, as I mentioned previously, HIPPA concerns will be need to be considered and addressed.
Beyond medical records, the iPad can also function as an extremely portable and searchable medical reference guide for doctors, nurses, and even pharmacists or emergency workers. Several such guides are already available as iPhone apps. It also may offer access to advanced medical imaging tools or patient monitoring, areas where impressive iPhone apps are already in existence (though many require FDA approval). For more information on existing medical apps for the iPhone, check out iMedical Apps
Obviously, the iPad has a lot of potential in education, both as an electronic textbook and reference source through services such as Wikipedia. The potential here is so great that George Fox University is offering incoming students for the 2010-2011 school year the option of a MacBook or iPad as part of their registration
(even though the iPad still hasn't been released). It also offers teachers new ways to present information electronically and new ways to interact with students both in and beyond the classroom.
Other fields where the iPad may find a home include real estate; use as a portable legal reference and administration tool (some of the earlier businesses to invest in the iPhone were law practices); general project management; and a range of design-related professions.
16. What type of testing should be done when considering whether to support the iPad?
At least following the initial release of the iPad, extensive testing should be undertaken. You'll want to ensure that the iPad integrates well with existing internal systems including mail and collaboration tools, a corporate intranet, wireless network and remote access.
You'll want to investigate and test in detail the various device management features, in particular those that relate to any access restrictions you may require as well as to your internal and government required security policies. You'll also want to test deployment practices, viability of the built-in applications and any third party applications that you will deploy to users.
Once your satisfied that the iPad is viable in your organization, you'll want to setup a pilot project using both IT personnel and general users to see how well the iPad actually works for the various types of users within your organization. This may be a particular concern for schools, who will need to ensure that both teachers and students can effectively make use of the iPad in the classroom as well as to ensure that student iPads are securely managed.
17. What IT policies and procedures might need to be adjusted to account for the iPad?
The specific policies and processes that will be impacted by supporting the iPad will vary from one organization to another. A well run pilot project will be the real key to determining which policies you may need to adjust. In general, however, you'll most likely need to tweak any acceptable use policies as well as deployment and procurement policies.
You'll also most likely need to take a look at helpdesk procedures to determine the best way to support iPad users (both at work and on the road). You may find that helpdesk practices may need a dedicated iPad support team or that you can generally build helpdesk resources into the overall knowledge base for your support staff. You may also need to create specific categories or support levels in your helpdesk system to accommodate reporting of iPad issues.
Another area that you'll want to look at is training procedures and resources for iPad users. This could take the form of one-on-one training during deployment, a more general training (either electronic or in-person), or developing a wiki or other user reference resource. As always, good training can be a great way to reduce potential support calls.
18. Are there serious business tools being created for the iPad and if so what are they?
It seems without question that there will be some serious business and office tools available for the iPad. A quick look through the business and productivity categories of the current App Store reveals a wide range of powerful business tools including office suites such as Quickoffice, CRM and project management tools, mind mapping software, task managers, tools that offer integration with advanced collaboration platforms and serious business intelligence solutions.
It seems pretty obvious that many of these developers are already looking to expand their offerings for the iPad. The Omni Group, in particular, has already announced plans to develop a range of iPad equivalents to their business applications
While Apple's iPad version of iWork, which offers the ability to import and edit the major Office file types, may be the only mention Apple has made about business software, it seems pretty clear that iWork won't be the only business software for the iPad. By the end of 2010, it may even be one of the less powerful options.
19. Will Apple be providing enterprise resources or services for the iPad?
Undoubtedly. Apple has kept many details of the iPad under wraps, as it does any new but unreleased product. Although Apple doesn't always appear to be focused on the enterprise, the company does provide enterprise guides to the iPhone
and Mac OS X
Knowing that the iPad has broad potential in the business and education space as well as the consumer market, the company will almost certainly offer additional resources at the time of the iPad's launch, much as it did with the iPhone Enterprise Deployment Guide. The company will probably also work with various other information outlets and publishers to provide in-depth iPad enterprise information as it does with its other product lines.