New Apple and IBM enterprise iOS apps help streamline business operations

10 new MobileFirst apps

Apple and IBM unveiled 10 enterprise iOS apps for the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch covering various industries and areas of business to improve workflow.

The apps help employees and managers keep track of shift times, manage travel planning and tracking, service mortgage loans and connect with clients, diagnose issues in the field, inspect assets and document unsafe working conditions in factories. IBM and Apple claim these apps will reduce or eliminate paperwork, save data entry time and streamline workflows.

These new apps join the existing 22 enterprise-ready MobileFirst apps designed by the Apple and IBM partnership formed more than a year ago. IBM promised to build a total of 100 new apps as part of this venture.

The MobileFirst collaboration

At the time, the partnership between IBM and Apple was unprecedented. The partners had once competed against each other in the early days of the personal PC market. That battle ended in 2005 when IBM sold off its ThinkPad and PC business to Lenovo, and for the first time ever in May 2015, IBM employees can choose an Apple MacBook Pro or Air as a work issued laptop.

"Our collaboration combines IBM's industry expertise and unmatched position in enterprise computing, with Apple's legendary user experience and excellence in product design to lift the performance of a new generation of business professionals," said Bridget van Kralingen, Senior Vice President, IBM Global Business Services, in a statement.

For Apple, the partnership helps Apple push its devices into the enterprise space. IBM benefits by being able to promote its cloud offerings, analytics and business services with the deal.

Rivals Samsung and BlackBerry also have formed a partnership to bring the latter's security software to the former's smartphones in a play for the enterprise.

Time tracking

There are two apps for managing shifts and schedules. The Shift Sync app is designed for employees to view schedules, accept deadlines and submit vacation requests. The second Shift Track app is made for managers, providing analytics for scheduling. Managers can use the Shift Track app to approve time off requests and make changes to shifts and hours.

The manager-made Shift Track app is an iPad-only app, while employees can view scheduling details on their iPhone or Apple Watch.

Travel

Thanks to Travel Plan and Travel Track, planning and tracking business travel is more manageable. The iPhone Travel Plan app uses analytics to scan calendar events, suggest trips and provide personal travel recommendations.

While on your trip, the Travel Track app for iPhone and Apple Watch lets you see your itinerary and connect everyone in your travel group by scanning your party's calendars and reservations.

Loan servicing

Mortgage officers can use the Loan Advise app on their iPads to collect client information. Once loans are in progress, the Loan Track app for iPhone lets mortgage officers view loan statuses. The app can also send out updates to borrowers via email, instant message or text.

Inspection and service

The iPhone Asset Inspect app lets field technicians more efficiently diagnose problems. The app uses predictive analytics to show technicians potential problems with machines in the field, and the app can be used to pull up manuals, specifications and work history.

The Expert Resolve app works in a similar way to the Asset Inspect app. Designed for field service professionals, the app uses analytics to pinpoint and identify common issues and display historical data. The app is designed for the iPad only.

The Field Inspect iPad app is designed for government inspectors. The app allows inspectors to go completely paperless. After inspection, the report can be submitted digitally to the appropriate government agency.

Safety first

For factory forepersons, the Safe Site app for iPhone helps to document and alert others of unsafe conditions. The app taps into the iPhone's built-in hardware, and forepersons can use the microphone and camera to capture and broadcast unsafe incidents instantly. iBeacon technology is also leveraged to alert forepersons if they're approaching an identified hazard.