Apple has been granted a patent (number 11,132,454) for “devices with profile-based operating mode controls.” It involves the ability for employers to provide employees with Apple devices such as an iPhone with a set-up and implementation specific to a company’s needs.
About the patent
In the patent data, Apple notes that many companies provide their employees with a device that can be used for activities such as sending and receiving e-mail, instant messages, tweets, and so on. Such devices also can have a variety of additional functions, such as being able to run applications.
Such applications can include business applications, such as presentation tools, spreadsheets, analytical tools, and so on. What’s more, many of these devices now have large storage capacity, such that a wider variety of data can be stored for longer periods of time on the devices.
Apple says that, as such devices have become more full-featured, with better connectivity, businesses have found value in their employees having these devices available. Users of these devices also have found value in having such devices available more consistently, as they can be increasingly productive and mobile, with more flexibility as to where and when they can work.
Apple notes that users also have evidenced increased demand for such devices in their personal lives. Many such users desire to have particular applications available to them on their devices, as well as their contacts and other data. However, such users likely also would find it less convenient to carry physically distinct devices for different roles, such as for personal use and for business use. Businesses also may find the value of such devices diminished if users do not have them available when not at work, especially in an increasingly global workforce, spread amongst disparate timezones.
However, users may wish to avoid business-related interruptions at some times. Businesses, and other entities, may desire to enforce access policies for their proprietary data, applications provided on the device, etc. Apple says there’s “a need for devices and systems that can meet the needs both of users of these devices and entities that may be providing such devices to the users, or otherwise providing data or applications that will be resident on such devices.”
Summary of the patent
Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “A device (e.g., a phone) can be provided by an entity (e.g., a business) to a user (e.g., an employee). The device includes a profile manager that allows the user to configure a personal profile comprising any of applications, settings, and stored data. The device is also configurable with an entity profile determined by the entity that also may include applications, settings, and stored data.
“The user can select from operating modes comprising at least a personal mode, and a unity mode; an entity mode also may be available for selection. The profile manager, based on the selected mode, determines whether entity profile data and applications are available to the user, and which applications from either profile may conduct user-perceptible activities. The profile manager may periodically verify entity profile rights with a server, and if verification fails, then the profile manager can restrict entity profile data and applications access, regardless of operating mode.”
The accompanying graphic depicts an example system view in which an entity may maintain a profile server, and other servers for connection with devices, such as an iPhone.