Apple, Salesforce Team On Mobile Business Apps

Apple and CRM giant Salesforce have announced they are to work together in a wide-ranging partnership focused on boosting the development and use of business apps on Apple’s iOS mobile platform, and the use of iOS features such as the voice-activated Siri personal assistant in a business setting.

The deal builds on Apple’s previous partnerships in the enterprise market with companies such as IBM, Cisco and Accenture.

It is also intended to boost the mobile capabilities of Salesforce’s popular platform for the sales and  marketing industries by giving developers better access to iOS development tools.

Initially the deal will see Salesforce redesign its mobile app on iOS to integrate iOS-specific features such as Siri.

Salesforce chairman Marc Benioff. Image credit: Salesforce

Developer tools

The companies will also produce tools and resources for Salesforce’s approximately 5 million developers, including a Salesforce software developer kit for iOS and an iOS-specific online developer training course on Salesforce’s Trailhead platform.

“With the powerful combination of iPhone, iPad and iOS — the best hardware and software for business — together with native Salesforce apps and the new Salesforce SDK, we can deliver great customer experiences for businesses around the world,” said Apple chief executive Tim Cook.

Salesforce chairman Marc Benioff said the deal would bring together leading CRM and mobile platforms.

“Together, Salesforce and Apple are defining a new era of mobile innovation with native apps on iOS, and empowering millions of people with access to Trailhead and the skills they need for the jobs of the future,” Benioff said.

Salesforce said it would work with Apple on a redesign of its Salesforce Mobile App to integrate features including Siri Shortcuts, Face ID and Business Chat.

The company said it would also introduce its first mobile app for the web-based training platform Trailhead on iOS first, as well as collaborating on other business iOS apps.

Mobile SDK

The two companies said they are developing the first Salesforce mobile software developer kit, optimised for Swift, Apple’s mobile programming language. The SDK facilitates the development and deployment of new iOS apps linking to Salesforce’s Lightning Platform, the companies said.

Apple said it would launch a new iOS App Development Trail on Salesforce’s Trailhead training platform for building native iOS apps in the Xcode development environment with Swift.

The Trailhead development trail is available immediately, while the development kit is scheduled for the end of this year.

The new Salesforce mobile app is planned for early next year, and the Trailhead mobile app is set to debut later next year.

Voice for business

The companies said the deal would give business users access to new mobile tools such as voice-activated shortcuts for carrying out common business tasks, such as updating a customer’s record with notes after a meeting or flagging customer service issues.

At Salesforce’s Dreamforce customer conference this week the Mariott International hotel chain is to demonstrate other voice-activated applications, including a system that uses Salesforce and Apple tools to deploy personalised Siri services in hotel rooms on Apple HomePod smart speakers.

The services mean travellers can use Siri to operate the air conditioning in the room, order room service or call a taxi, Salesforce said.

The personalisation features mean Siri can be set to remember the guest’s preferences the next time they stay at a Mariott hotel, such as their favourite sandwich.

In June Mariott announced a similar deal involving Amazon Echo smart speakers.

IBM has also targeted hotels with a Watson voice assistant aimed at providing similar services, but said the tool would use the hotels’ brands, not that of Watson or IBM.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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