By licensing Microsoft's ActiveSync protocol, iPhone users will get e-mail, calendaring, and contact items pushed directly to the smartphone.
Apple on Thursday unveiled a list of upcoming features, including support for Microsoft Exchange e-mail server, that Apple hopes will convince corporations to adopt the iPhone as the device of choice for mobile workers.
The list included the ability to push e-mail and calendar items from servers to the iPhone, synchronize contact lists, and enforce security policies. In addition, the iPhone would support Cisco's client for secure connections to an IP-base virtual private network, and would have technology that a company could use to remotely wipe out data on a lost or stolen iPhone.
One of the most requested corporate features is support for Exchange, Jobs said. To meet the demand, Apple licensed Microsoft's ActiveSync protocol for connecting the iPhone's e-mail client directly to an Exchange server. As a result, e-mail, calendaring and contact items can pushed directly to the smartphone, a feature that Apple demonstrated at the event.
In addition, Apple will be adding Exchange as an e-mail option on the iPhone, along with Yahoo and Google mail and other options. Apple will build software for easy configuration of the device to an Exchange server.
Apple is currently testing the iPhone enterprise features, including the Exchange support, with Nike and Disney, Philip Schiller, Apple's senior VP of worldwide product marketing, said. "It's real and it's exciting," Schiller said of the new technology.
Apple on Thursday released a software development kit in beta that enterprise customers will use for building custom iPhone applications. Starting with the upcoming update of the iPhone software, applications built with the SDK will be able to connect to application programming interfaces within the entire stack of the device's operating system.
Apple is working with corporate customers on the software they'll use to distribute applications to iPhone-carrying workers. In addition, the company plans to offer technology that'll make it relatively easy to move user profiles from Research In Motion's BlackBerry, likely to be Apple's biggest competitor, to the iPhone.
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