Mobliciti CTO, Andy Brown, writes a weekly blog, looking at the latest trends in the world of technology. At VIEW 2019, Andy presented Brown’s Bigger Byte, looking at the biggest technology trends of 2019 and the must-deliver projects of 2020, covering everything from Windows 10 and Apple to foldable smartphones and unified comms.
As 2020 wraps up, we look at how, in the unexpected world of the COVID-19 pandemic, some of these thoughts and predictions panned out.
Foldable Phones Are Here To Stay
Foldable phones made big strides in 2019, with Samsung’s Galaxy Fold and Huawei’s Mate X launching. However, these devices almost seemed more like prototypes, with many high-profile incidents being reported. But the prospect of a foldable phone that could offer greater screen real estate and capably run business applications was enticing for many, with foldable phones predicted to make big waves in 2020.
Numerous foldable phones were launched in 2020, with the likes of Samsung, Motorola and Huawei all offering up new devices. Samsung and Huawei spent time refining their original offerings, redesigning devices to eliminate many of the critiques the early models were swamped with. Microsoft even launched their own folding phone-tablet, the Surface Duo.
As with any new technology, these devices are still encountering a number of speed bumps, from bugs to ergonomic issues. However, potentially one of the most prohibitive things that is keeping foldable devices from hitting the mass market is the cost. These devices still aren’t cheap, with the Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 currently retailing for £1,799 – that’s 225% more expensive than the iPhone 12.
The form factor of these foldables – the ability to have a bigger display on a phone that, when put in your pocket, isn’t overwhelmingly big – is still their greatest selling point. As specs increase and price decreases in the coming years, more and more users will turn to these devices, and few are likely to want to return to the static single screen afterwards.
The iOS ‘Problem’
Last year, Andy discussed the resounding issue that was being brought to Apple’s door. September 2019’s iOS 13 release was labelled as ‘the buggiest release from Apple ever’ by many, with the release met with much criticism, especially within the enterprise. Support desks were flooded with requests as users encountered numerous issues. Every iOS 13 patch released by Apple seemed to simultaneously fix issues, whilst creating even more problems.
So, has iOS 14 fixed Apple’s reputation?
Not really. Almost immediately after iOS 14’s release in September 2020, the enterprise started reporting major issues relating to iOS’ Native Email client.
The issues haven’t stopped there, as initial reports of iOS 14 severely draining the battery of the iPhone 12 range began. These issues have now spread, with thousands reporting in December 2020 that they’re facing severe messaging problems. Ranging from being unable to send or receive messages to missing notifications, this iOS 14 bug is affecting SMS as well as third-party apps such as WhatsApp.
For a brand that has built itself on quality, continually being plagued by problematic iOS releases year-on-year is doing Apple no favours.
The Mobile & Cloud Threat Is Growing
Last year, Andy highlighted the significance of the vulnerability of mobile and cloud. Users are three times more likely to fall for a phishing attack when on a mobile device when compared to a desktop. Ensuring users are protected when they’re using their smartphones outside of the traditional workplace, as well as the networks they’re on, is a must.
This year, the importance of protecting devices once they left the secure workplace perimeter became extremely real. With hundreds of millions of employees globally working from home – using their home Wi-Fi and no longer under the keen eye of IT – things could, and did, go wrong.
The risk of falling victim to a cyber-attack is far greater when working from home, with 82% of IT leaders believing that their company is at a greater risk of phishing attacks as more employees work from home. Working from home, using devices and networks that are improperly secured, is giving bad actors direct routes into businesses and their data. Whilst some companies will have appropriately secured their corporate devices, users working from home on vulnerable networks are potentially exposing the enterprise. Home networks have introduced a whole host of problems, ranging from security risks to poor quality lines that are preventing users from working efficiently.
Windows 10 was a hot topic throughout 2019. Support for the former operating system, Windows 7, ran out in January 2020. As a result, countless articles, emails and notifications pushed for users and businesses to upgrade to Windows 10 or risk leaving their devices open to security risks. An estimated 15% of all endpoint operating systems were still running Windows 7 as of September 2020, over 6 months after support ended.
Most organisations have used tried and tested approaches to deliver Windows 10, partly because of deadlines that had to be hit, but there are now more modern toolsets for delivering managed and configured Windows 10 devices. During 2020 Mobliciti held a virtual briefing with Microsoft to show how Autopilot can deliver the next generation of Windows 10 but in a much more streamlined manner. This new way of deploying devices also helps when dealing with a distributed workforce and remote working.
The world of unified comms was touched on by Andy many times in 2019. Disparate collaboration tools have long since been an issue, but a gradual shift in unified comms coming together seemed to be ushering in, with the likes of Microsoft Teams and Zoom perfectly complementing one another.
And then along came COVID-19…
In response to a sudden mass move to home working, those who didn’t have their collaboration packages seamlessly together quickly had to identify and purchase tools that would allow employees to effectively and efficiently communicate both internally and externally. Whilst IT frantically sought out all the tools they would need, employees were taking matters into their own hands. Shadow IT was taking place at an unprecedented level, with users utilising the tools that they deemed most suitable for the job, unaware of the security risks they might be exposing the company too.
The unexpected consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have disrupted many IT strategies in 2020. As a result, a large deal of IT focus was concentrated on ensuring that employees had all of the tools and equipment necessary to allow them to efficiently work from home. Will this trend continue in 2021?