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Nathan Golia
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4 iPhone 5/iOS 6 Features Insurers Should Watch

The latest editions of Apple's iPhone and its operating system, announced yesterday, may not seem like much of an upgrade at first glance. But the updated offerings should push insurers in new directions when it comes to mobile development.

The announcements of iPhone 5 and iOS 6 at an Apple event yesterday were greeted predictably: Devotees of the brand turned the announcement into an impromptu holiday, while critics of the company dismissed the spectacle with usual bluster.

One thing is practically certain, however: This phone will sell, and appear in the hands of insurance companies' employees and policyholders before too long. Adapting to yet another handset might sound like a nightmare to IT departments overworked by device proliferation. Yet at the same time new avenues for user experience will open up. Here are some of the items insurers should keep an eye on:

  • Passbook: This proto-mobile wallet ostensibly "lets you store and collect all your passes and tickets digitally, whether they be movie tickets, boarding passes, coupons, concert passes, or store cards," according to MacWorld. Could there be a place for insurance ID cards here? After all, I have health insurance cards in my wallet already -- and it wouldn't hurt to have a native copy of my auto insurance card in there as well, considering I often forget to put my new ones in the car every six months.

  • Do Not Disturb: While Techcrunch was focused on the etiquette implications of this new feature that allows users to turn off notifications -- including calls -- for a set period of time, P&C insurers, who have focused on curbing distracted driving, will certainly welcome native support for such a feature.

  • Facebook integration: For those CIOs who already fear bring-your-own-device, a feature described by Lifehacker as "Sign in once on your iDevice, then share whatever you want at will" can't be enticing. It should be noted, however, that Twitter is already integrated into iOS, and there haven't been any high-profile data breaches from accidental cut-and-paste -- yet.

  • Better privacy controls: Lifehacker also notes that "Apple's beefed up its privacy settings, allowing you to see what apps are using what kinds of data at any time. If an app is accessing something you don't want it to, you can just revoke those permissions in Settings." Unlike the previous point, this is good news for those who are fearful of BYOD -- it allows people to provide accurate reports of what's going on with their device to their CISO if requested. Developers of insurers apps, meanwhile, will want to be absolutely sure that their program is only accessing that data that users expect it to -- after all, each user has their own big brother watching out for their privacy now.

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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