Apple and IBM partnership yields 100 iOS enterprise apps

Less than a year-and-a-half after Apple and IBM teamed up to create the MobileFirst for iOS program, the tech giants have released 100 iOS apps that target 65 professions across 14 industries including healthcare, banking and travel.

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During its 17 months of partnership with Apple, IBM has released 100 iOS apps for industry-specific functions. IBM released 48 new apps this month alone in an apparent mad dash to meet its goal of developing 100 IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps by the end of 2015.

While Apple is usually eager to disclose how many apps are supported across its various platforms, its enterprise focus with IBM is evolving into a more broad pursuit focused on suites of apps packaged for specific industry needs. Collectively, these iOS enterprise apps now serve 65 professions across 14 industries, according to IBM.

Healthcare, travel and transportation lead the way

Apple and IBM saw early momentum and adoption of apps designed for banking, insurance, healthcare, travel and transportation, energy and utilities, industrial, and retail. Industries with the largest suite of apps -- healthcare, travel and transportation -- have a combined 29 apps spread across 10 collections such as the hospital suite and customer service agent suite.

 [ Related: Why Apple keeps its distance from enterprise IT (and why it works) ]

Some app packages such as the wealth advisor suite, hospital suite, store associate suite and the flight attendant suite, have been among the most rapidly adopted so far. Meanwhile, aging, auto, consumer products, and chemical and petroleum are new markets IBM and Apple are targeting starting this month.

The wealth advisor suite, for example, includes a trio of apps designed to help financial professionals prioritize client-related tasks, access and manage client portfolios with predictive analytics, and discover ways to maximize their time in the field with customers.

The hospital suite spans a collection of nine apps created to help physicians access patient data on an iPhone or Apple Watch, provide a view into activity across an entire nursing unit for hospital leads on an iPad, and prioritize patient tasks for registered nurses and nursing technicians on an iPhone or Apple Watch.

IBM developing iOS apps for common tasks and market specifics

While many of the 100 apps released to date are designed to fulfill tasks specific to a particular industry, IBM also has a growing collection of apps designed to meet the needs of all working professionals. Eleven apps spanning four suites -- business travel, collaborate and communicate, operational efficiency, and sales and service -- are being adopted by companies to address these more common tasks.

Apple and IBM declined to say how many businesses have adopted MobileFirst for iOS apps, but the companies continue to highlight new customers such as Vodafone Netherlands, Bosch’s home appliance group in Germany, Japan Post and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank in the United Arab Emirates.

 [ Related: 3 telltale signs Apple is changing its enterprise tune ]

IBM also announced the Scandinavian airline SAS will soon provide its flight attendants with the Passenger+ app to enable more detailed access on passenger preferences, interests and previous purchasing decisions to personalize their flying experience.

Other apps in development will integrate the machine learning and predictive capabilities of IBM Watson, according to IBM. The company has also committed to begin developing apps for Apple’s iPad Pro with support for multitasking and the Apple Pencil where appropriate.

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