Playing Taps

November 21st, 2012 by Allister Banks

It seems like the whole world’s gone mobile, and along with it the tools to transition the stampede of devices coming through businesses doors into something manageable. For iOS, it wasn’t long ago that activation was through iTunes only(*gasp!*) and MDM was a hand-coded webpage with xml and redeemable code links on it. Back then Apple ID’s were a monumental headache (no change there) and Palm wasn’t dead yet. It could cause one to reminisce back to the first coming of Palm. Folklore has it there was a job duty at Palm called ‘tap counter’, to ensure nothing took longer than 3 taps to achieve. If you’ve deployed any number of iOS devices like iPads, you may be painfully aware just how many more than that there are just to take one of these devices out of the box before they get into a usable state:
Manually doing each individual device “over the air”, you need to tap 16 times to activate and use the device with an open wireless network (17 if it’s a newer iPad with Siri integration)

And the ‘iTunes Store Activation Mode’ method leaves 9 taps, since it skips the language selection and time zone choices along with the option to bypass Wi-Fi setup.

If you have access to a Mac running Apple Configurator, it takes only 13 after ‘Prepare’ the device for use. It would seem like things haven’t actually improved. But Apple Configurator has more tricks than just the newer one we discussed recently, which is getting Apple TV’s on a wireless network. When you want to do iOS’s version of Managed Preferences, configuration profiles (a.k.a .mobileconfig files,) that’s another two taps PER PROFILE. This is an opportunity to really learn to love Apple Configurator, though, as it shows two of it’s huge advantages here (the third being the fact it can do multi-user assignment on a single iPad, including checking sets of applications out and reclaiming the app licenses as desired)

- You can restore a backup of an activated device (or as many as 30 at once), which answers all of the setup questions in one automated step (along with any other manual customizations you may want)

- If you put the device in Supervision mode, you can even apply configuration profiles WITHOUT tapping “accept” and “install” for each and every one

There are so many things to consider with all the different ownership models for apps, devices, and the scenarios regarding MDM and BYOD, I thought it was worth just to have a mini-topic of ‘how do folks approach getting them iPads out of the box and into a usable state?’

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