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Over the next few weeks, I’ll be looking at Apple’s WWDC 2022 announcements that will impact IT professionals in both education and corporate environments. There’s a lot to unpack this year that may not have made the headlines in most news stories, so I’m looking forward to unpacking the little tidbits and seeing what impact each will have on IT professionals managing Apple devices. , as well as those who use Managed Apple devices for work and school. This week I want to look at the news that Apple Configurator on iPhone can now integrate other iPhones and iPads into Apple Business Manager and Apple School Manager.
About Apple @ Work: Bradley Chambers managed a corporate IT network from 2009 to 2021. Through his experience implementing and managing firewalls, switches, a mobile device management system, enterprise-grade Wi-Fi, hundreds of Macs and hundreds of iPads, Bradley will highlight the ways Apple IT executives deploy Apple devices, build networks around them. support, train users, stories from the trenches of IT management, and ways Apple can improve its products for IT departments.
It’s hard to believe that Apple Configurator is now over TWELVE years old. In fact, you can still read the original release story from when 9to5Mac made the announcement. I remember where I was when it was announced. I left another school wanting to migrate to Google Workspace (Google Apps at the time) from their local Exchange Mail Server, and I gave them some tips from when I did it a few years earlier.
When I got back to the office, I started seeing the release announcements on various Apple websites. Compared to today’s cloud-first tools, Apple Configurator is not something most businesses can use as their sole iOS and macOS management tool. Still, it was a fundamental breakthrough for many organizations just getting started with iOS management at the time. It finally made technology like the Volume Purchase Program scalable for organizations that buy apps in bulk. The role of Apple Configurator in 2022 is very different, but let’s take a look at what life was like before it was released.
Before Apple Configurator
Before Apple Configurator, the process of deploying apps was: suspect at best. You buy how many copies of an app you need (20 was/is the minimum to get a discount) and you receive an Excel spreadsheet with app codes. You would take the first one, redeem it in iTunes and then “save” the test for compliance reasons. If you were deploying apps to personal devices, you could simply email the app code to people to redeem.
With Apple Configurator, you’d redeem the first code in iTunes to grab the App file, add it to Apple Configurator, and then you’d import the spreadsheet to unlock additional licenses. You then have the option to bulk sync it to devices via a USB connection. I did quite a bit of tinkering to find USB hubs that could power multiple iPads at once – the most I could ever get was 8-10 at a time. To remove an app, plug it back in, uncheck the Apple Configurator, and sync again. Compared to the current environment, this process seems archaic, but at the time it was light years ahead of what we had.
MDM + Apple Configurator in 2022
The role of Apple Configurator in 2022 is very different. In fact, you don’t even have to have to use it. Apple’s zero-touch deployment model means it can box out devices and allow employees/students to unpack, connect to Wi-Fi, enroll in MDM, and install the appropriate apps and profiles. IT may be able to run an Apple deployment for years without ever touch a device. With Erase All Content and Settings, it is possible for an IT department to erase devices and remove them from MDM for resale/trade in when the lease also ends. In the age of remote working, it is truly amazing what all IT professionals can do without touching a device.
However, Apple Configurator is still useful if you want to use it. In my experience, I’ve found that using new-out-of-the-box devices to manually install a Wi-Fi profile can speed up deployment time if IT doesn’t want to set up a password-free Wi-Fi network. I would often use the macOS version of Apple Configurator to install a single Wi-Fi profile on all devices as I unpacked them and then let others help me through the process of onboarding to the MDM, etc. It’s optional , but it’s a nice option.
Apple Configurator for iPhone
Last December, Apple released the first version of Apple Configurator for iPhone, after it was announced at WWDC 2021. The main reason for using the iPhone version of the app was to onboard devices not purchased through the school’s Apple account into Apple Business/School Manager. In what situation would this be beneficial? My first pitch for the app was whether a Mac was donated to a school or business (non-profit) to use in everyday activities. I often encountered this situation and I would never refuse free iPads, but it made managing them a challenge.
With the update to Apple Configurator in 2022, schools and businesses now have the ability to embed iOS and iPadOS devices into their Apple accounts purchased directly from Apple. Why is this beneficial? For the same reasons I mentioned above with donated devices, there is also a new use case: supply chain issues. Finding devices that are in stock has become a challenge. Find devices en masse has become an even greater challenge. I’ve been reading countless tweets from schools with delayed transmissions all spring and summer. In the summer period, schools are generally in the process of rolling out their fall equipment, so an August or September delivery is not ideal. I’ve talked to several schools that have merged Mac deployments by purchasing devices from Best Buy, Amazon, B&H Photo, and other retailers. With Apple Configurator for iPhone, these devices can eventually find their way into their Apple Business/School Manager account, so they work as if they came directly from Apple.
Summary of WWDC Apple Configurator announcements
The extra iPad and iPhone onboarding for Apple Configurator for iPhone won’t help a school today, but it will help in the future. If there are still supply chain issues in 2023, it will provide schools with another opportunity to purchase their devices. If they get devices that support iOS 16, schools and businesses can just say: thanks, onboard them into Apple Business/School Manager and add them to their mobile device management system, just like any other device in the fleet. It may seem like a minor upgrade, but it’s a significant improvement in the right situation.
Apple @ Work is brought to you by Mosyle, the only Apple Unified Platform. Mosyle is the only solution that fully integrates 5 different applications on a single Apple platform, enabling businesses and schools to easily and automatically deploy, manage and protect all their Apple devices. More than 32,000 organizations use Mosyle solutions to automate the deployment, management, and security of millions of Apple devices every day.
Sign up for a FREE account today and learn how to put your Apple fleet on autopilot at a price that’s hard to believe.
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