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Salesforce-Apple partnership deepens with new SDK for iOS

The updated Salesforce mobile SDK makes it easier for developers to build native Salesforce apps for iOS devices using Swift, Apple's programing language.

In an effort to offer companies ways to broaden their CRM technology capabilities, Salesforce has hitched its software development wagon to Apple's iOS app ecosystem.

Salesforce recently updated its software development kit (SDK) to better integrate with iOS. This means developers can now use the SDK to build native Salesforce apps that are optimized for iOS 12 -- Apple's current OS for iPhone and iPad -- and Swift, Apple's programming language.

Salesforce announced the SDK update in January, less than three months after it unveiled a larger Salesforce-Apple partnership at Dreamforce 2018. The Salesforce-iOS connection is one of several steps the companies intend to take to expand each other's portfolios -- Apple solidifying its foothold in enterprise technology and Salesforce making its CRM functions more accessible.

"It's a great move for Apple to partner with the industry leader in CRM, especially considering how dedicated Salesforce is to evangelizing products and concepts," said Brent Leary, a CRM and customer experience analyst. "But it's also a win for Salesforce. It makes sense to get CRM and mobile aligned, and partnering with Apple obviously helps accomplish that."

Focus on mobile

It's a great move for Apple to partner with the industry leader in CRM, especially considering how dedicated Salesforce is to evangelizing products and concepts. But it's also a win for Salesforce. It makes sense to get CRM and mobile aligned, and partnering with Apple obviously helps accomplish that.
Brent LearyCRM and customer experience analyst

Mobile is at the center of the Salesforce-Apple partnership, said Leyla Seka, executive vice president and general manager of Salesforce Mobile. Salesforce is looking to make work easier for employees spending more than three hours per day on their devices. The iOS-friendly SDK and other impending Salesforce-Apple initiatives highlight Salesforce's commitment to supporting enterprise mobile applications with an intuitive user experience.

"We're going to let companies familiar with iOS development tailor their Salesforce apps to what their customers need," Seka said of the revamped SDK. "It lets businesses develop apps with the familiar user experience of iOS. [The apps] will be connected to the Salesforce database, which is secure and trusted, and have access to device-specific features."

The iOS SDK enables experienced developers to build apps, but it also has a simplicity -- including drag-and-drop features -- that enables users who are not steeped in coding to create apps that meet their needs as well, Seka said.

"If you're an iOS developer, SDK is similar to what you expect from iOS and Java," she said. "You can get in there and get working very easily."

For example, developers will be able to integrate Face ID and Touch ID -- the face and fingerprint security sensors on Apple mobile devices -- without difficulty, she said.

CRM modalities possible

The Salesforce Mobile iOS SDK platform could create ways to facilitate CRM, chief among them voice-powered functions on Salesforce apps, Leary said.

At Dreamforce 2018, Salesforce also unveiled Einstein Voice, a bot that uses natural language processing to classify updates users need to make within Salesforce applications. Users can update customer profiles, write emails and schedule meetings with voice commands to Einstein on their mobile devices. Between Einstein Voice, which is in pilot stage, and Siri on iOS, Leary sees Salesforce trying to solidify a foothold in voice- and AI-driven apps for the enterprise.

"I see more apps that are going to be destined for voice," Leary said. "You can [facilitate] CRM by inputting information with your voice, as opposed to typing and clicking. Because iPhones are the biggest mobile device that sales folks have, CRM now has a conversational platform."

Other Salesforce-Apple partnership products currently in the works include a redesigned Salesforce mobile app on iOS, which is in pilot stage, and an iOS app for Trailhead, Salesforce's online learning program.

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