AT&T Toggle is coming to the iPhone, raising questions about the future of other dual-persona technologies.
AT&T this week announced a new version of Toggle, which creates separate personal and business environments on the same smartphone. Previously available for Android only, Toggle will now support iOS, plus BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone later this year, according to AllThingsD.
Another well-known dual-persona service is Horizon Mobile Manager, which only supports Android (for now, at least). But its technology is very different than Toggle's, so there's no guarantee it will be next aboard the iPhone train. Let's take a look at how the two products are different, what's been holding up iOS support and where the market is going:
What's the difference between Toggle and Horizon Mobile Manager?
Toggle is an app that's installed on the mobile operating system, through which users can access corporate apps and data in accordance with IT policy. VMware's approach with Horizon Mobile Manager, not surprisingly, is to use mobile virtualization, which creates a separate operating system that runs on a hypervisor that directly accesses the device hardware.
Why haven't these services been available on iOS?
In VMware's case, the answer is simple: Apple won't let it. The folks in Cupertino are pretty controlling when it comes to what can and can't run on their devices, so they're understandably hesitant to let another vendor's software access its hardware and install other OSes. Sure, VMware execs say they're working with Apple, and they stress their close relationship as evidenced by VMware Fusion, which lets users run Windows on the Mac. But the fact is, VMware's been talking about mobile virtualization for years, and it's still not available on iOS.
In AT&T's case, the answer is not so clear. Toggle is just an app, so virtualization and hardware access aren't the problem. If opposition from Apple is what has kept Toggle off the iPhone up until now, this week's news may signal some sort of shift in Apple's stance on these kinds of services. And if that's the case, maybe Apple is also rethinking its stance on virtualization, which could open the door for VMware to do its iPhone virtualization thing.
Admittedly, that's a lot of ifs -- plus a "maybe" and a "could" for good measure. But it's not out of the realm of possibility.
What does iOS support mean for the dual-persona market?
It helps, of course. Not being available for such a popular device clearly limited dual-persona's audience. But IT and users alike still have lots of questions about the approach: Do users really want to switch back and forth between two different environments? Are the business environments and apps user-friendly enough that employees will stop using unapproved, consumer-focused alternatives? How will IT integrate these services with other application management technologies?
Until we get those answers, iOS support won't really matter, and dual-persona services will continue to be solutions in search of a problem.