This content is part of the Essential Guide: The complete Apple iOS guide for IT administrators

All of our thoughts on iOS 12, macOS Mojave, and the iPhone XS and XR

Business as usual, except for Mojave privacy controls.

iOS 12 is rolling out now, and last week we learned all about the new iPhones. While I offered a few comments in the Friday Notebook, today I want to round up all of my current Apple notes.

iOS updates

I wrote about all the new iOS 12 MDM features back in June, and said that most of the updates were straightforward and would not result in a total rethinking of iOS EMM strategy.

One important feature is the ability to use OAuth for MDM-managed Exchange accounts. And perhaps 2018’s most important iOS update—the ability to delay updates on supervised devices—came with 11.3 in March. tvOS finally gets some crucial app and update management controls, but otherwise, iOS 12 MDM enhancements aren’t that much of a change.

I’ve spilled gallons of virtual ink about why iOS MDM for BYOD has fallen behind Android Enterprise Work Profiles, so there’s nothing new to mention here other than how excited I was when Swift on Security retweeted my reply tweet on the topic. I’ll also refer to my recent PSA, stating that everybody should test the iOS betas, because even if you don’t have a formal mobility effort, it’s still important to all companies in 2018. Plus, BYO iOS devices can now update themselves with even less user input, so your environment will be moving faster.

iPhone lifecycles

Once again, the big news from last week is just how much you can pay for an iPhone now. ($1449, for the record, but to be fair, it’s all freakin’ screen and has half a terabyte of storage.)

The occasionally-ignored—and much more important—point is that successive generations of iPhones have been getting longer and longer support lifespans. iOS 12 supports all the way back to the iPhone 5S, which came out in 2013; and supposedly the performance has been optimized on older devices.

When it comes to the prices, if you consider the 2017 iPhone X and this year’s XS and XS Max to be a separate luxury product line, the prices of the “standard” phones (regular-sized iPhone 6, 6S, 7, 8, and now the XR) are much more stable, though still increasing. For many years, the standard flagship was $649, but then the 8 went to $699, and the XR is $749.

You can also look at the price of the previous-generation iPhone (i.e. buy last year’s standard model) which has been steady at $549 for a while, but this year went up to $599 for the year-old iPhone 8. The two-year-old flagship has held steady at $449 for several years now, though we lost the $349 iPhone SE.

Give that a lot of enterprise-issued iPhones are the standard model, the $1449 price point isn’t really relevant. And since Apple’s support cycles are lengthening, enterprise customers can consider extending their replacement cycles, too. Finally, one last point to note is that iPhones are good at holding their resale value compared to other devices. (For more good pricing and lifecycle analysis, head to these articles in Stratechery, Asymco, and Fast Company.)

One thing that I’m curious about is the demise of the iPhone SE. 4” devices have long been favored for retail and shared device environments—you see them in barcode scanner and credit card reader sleds all the time. With no more iPhone SE, the only 4” option still available the iPod Touch. (I’m told that most of these shared 4” devices are iPods anyway). The iPod Touch was last refreshed in 2015 and has Apple’s A8 chip, so given the current support trend it should receive updates through iOS 13, or mid 2020 or so. Then unless there’s a new 4” device, it will be time to move on.

Dual calling

The iPhone XS and XS Max support two SIM cards (one physical and one eSIM), meaning that you could have separate work and personal phone numbers. Personally, I think this concept is great and I don’t know why more people aren’t interested.

However, there have been a ton of options to do this already, especially since CallKit in iOS 10 made VoIP apps much easier to use. Given this fact, and that dual SIMs are only in the “luxury” models, I’ll call this just an incremental change.

Mojave privacy control mess

The real enterprise issue might come next week, when macOS Mojave comes out. Mojave introduced a bunch of new privacy controls, which by the sound of it, really affect the user experience. There are new corresponding configuration profiles (referred to as Privacy Preference Policy Control Payloads), but even the likes of Jamf won’t be rolling out full support immediately.

Jamf Pro 10.7.1 will arrive on Monday (when Mojave comes out) and will include a feature to automatically deploy a Privacy Preference Policy Control Payload that ensures that Jamf's management framework is not affected by the new privacy features. In a later release, they'll add the full configuration controls for this payload to their UI, so that admins can configure the permissions for other apps and processes.

New hardware

<rant> On a final personal note, after years of laptop evolution, I’m really hoping we see a touchscreen MacBook with a 360-degree hinge sometime in the next year or two. I think the Google Pixelbook has the slickest hardware I’ve ever seen, but since I’m entrenched in the Apple ecosystem, I just want something like it that runs the hypothetical blended macOS/iOS. </rant>

This article was updated on Tuesday, September 18, to clarify Jamf's support for Privacy Preference Policy Control payloads.

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