Posts Tagged ‘Apple Configurator’

Wishes Granted! Apple Configurator 1.4 and iOS 7

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Back in June, we posted about common irritations of iOS(6) device deployment, especially in schools or other environments trying to remove features that could distract students. Just like with the Genie, we asked for three wishes:

- 1. Prevent the addition of other email accounts, or 2. the sign-in (or creation!) of Twitter/Facebook(/Vimeo/Flickr, etc.) accounts

Yay! Rejoice in the implementation of your feature requests! At least when on a supervised device, you can now have these options show up as greyed out.

- 3. Disable the setting of a password lock…

Boo! This is still in the realm of things only an MDM can do for you. But at least it’s not something new that MDM’s need to implement. More agile ways to interact with App Lock should be showing up in a lot more vendors products for a ‘do not pass go, do not collect $200 dollars’ way to lead a group of iPads through the exact app they should be using. Something new we’re definitely looking forward to for MDM vendors to implement is…

Over-the-Air Supervision!

Won’t it be neat when we don’t need to tether all these devices to get those extra management features?

And One More Thing

Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 2.35.14 PM

Oh, and one last feature I made reference to in passing, you can now sync a Supervised device to a computer! …With the caveat that you need to designate that functionality at the time you move the device into Supervise mode, and the specific Restriction payload needs setting appropriately.

Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 2.34.29 PM

We hope you enjoy the bounty that a new OS and updated admin tools brings.

Special Considerations for ‘Supervised’ iPads

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

Apple Configurator brings two key features. First, when Supervision is applied, one is able to pull back App ‘codes’ redeemed to devices when it is decided the App should be used on another iPad or simply be removed so as not to distract the current user. The other is when you move to the ‘Assign’ stage, it can become a multi-user device, which helps firewall off multiple users data from each other or facilitate handouts to Apps that support document transfer within Configurator. These are somewhat specialized use cases, so many use it for the basic setup functionality which can be found in other tools, but in a less-optimized workflow than Configurator provides.

Supervised iPads get people a lot of the way toward their common goals, so they sometimes find that Assignment isn’t as necessary. Perhaps they use Google Apps with Drive, or have a webclip they deploy to point folks to a site, and then fill out forms as a way of working on documents or collaborating. This still presents two inevitable events for the random bumps or mishaps that may befall an iPad deployment:
1. What if an iPad is dropped and the screen gets cracked?
2. What if the iPad becomes non-responsive due to a bath in water, or worse, gets lost/forgotten/stolen?

For the first issue, damaged iPads would lose all of the paid App codes redeemed on that device when wiped during repair, so it should be connected to Configurator and unsupervised before sending out. You do so by highlighting the supervised iPad and choosing ‘Unsupervise’ from the Device menu, as shown:
Unsupervise from Device menu
To reclaim the inventory number used by a lost or otherwise non-contactable iPad, it should be removed by following the same process, but holding down the Option key while the unrecoverable iPad is highlighted, and from the Device menu choosing Remove. Unfortunately, new App codes would need to be purchased to replace the Apps used on the non-retrievable iPad.

optionRemove

iOS 7 Management API and Apple Configurator Wishlist Quicky

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

We feel privileged to be living in the modern era, iOS device activation can happen over-the-air, and use of iTunes has almost completely been eclipsed by Apple Configurator. But it isn’t uncommon to hear the sysadmins being referred to as ‘the haters,’ since things can never be easy or nice enough for us. (And in reality, there’s still plenty of conflict and stress to go around without worrying about the reliability or functionality of our tools.) Besides the fact enrollment profiles themselves can always be removed at any time by end users, there are also still surprisingly numerous things that would require manual interaction to manage, and missing integration with other Apple products. With something that could be called iOS7 potentially around the corner, and with no inside information, here’s some of the things that still trip up the modern iOS deployment in certain environments.

As of this point in time, through the official management API and payloads documented in the canonical reference Apple provides, you cannot do the following:

Restrictions
- Disable the setting of a password lock
Especially in education, the accidental turning on of this ‘feature’ has probably sold MDM more than anything else
- Prevent the addition of other email accounts
File transfer and content distribution is still by no means a solved problem, and email has always been a ubiquitous option – but in certain environments we probably don’t want accounts added nilly-willy… (er, strike that, reverse…)
- Prevent the sign-in (or creation!) of Twitter or Facebook accounts
Yay for social media integration! Boo for education or other environments where these devices aren’t to be used ‘socially.’

Account addition OR creation

Apple Configurator can allow the handing out of documents to an app like Adobe Reader(which still has an unfortunate amount of Adobe’s interruptions in its first-time use experience,) and you can collect documents as well when assigned devices get checked back in. The two apps you CAN’T at present add content/documents to? Apple’s own iTunesU and iBooks apps! Nor can you pull in iMovie projects or pictures from the Camera Roll.

The longer you work with these things, the more corner/edge-cases you notice – like the fact you can’t use two MDM services on the same device. It makes sense when you know the moving parts and think about the ramifications, but it still can surprise folks because documentation doesn’t seem to warn against it. (That I’ve found, at least, feel free to correct us on the Twitter or elsewhere!) We mention these things not to say it’s a horrible experience to deploy the devices in most use cases, just to point out there’s always room for improvement and we’re excited to see what the next version might offer.

iOS and Backups

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

If you’re like us, you’re a fan of our modern era, as we are (for the most part) better off than we previously were for managing iOS devices. One such example is bootstrapping, although we’re still a ways away from traditional ‘imaging’. You don’t need Xcode to update the OS in parallel, iPCU to generate configuration profiles, and iTunes for restoring backups anymore. Nowadays in our Apple Configurator world, you don’t interact with iTunes much at all (although it needs to be present for assisting in loading apps and takes a part in activation.)

So what are backups like now, what are the differences between a restore from, say, iCloud versus Apple Configurator? Well, as it was under the previous administration, iTunes has all our stuff, practically our entire base belongs to it. It knows about our Apple ID, it has the ‘firmware’ or OS itself cached, we can rearrange icons with our pointing human interface device… good times. Backups with iTunes are pretty close to imaging, as an IT admin would possibly define it. The new kids on the block(iCloud, Apple Configurator,) however, have a different approach.

iOS devices maintain a heavily structured and segmented environment. Configuration profiles are bolted on top(more on this in a future episode), ‘Userspace’ and many settings are closer to the surface, apps live further down towards the core, and the OS is the nougat-y center. Apple Configurator interacts with all these modularly, and backups take the stage after the OS and apps have been laid down. This means if your backup includes apps that Apple Configurator did not provide for you… the apps(and their corresponding sandboxed data) are no longer with us, the backup it makes cannot restore the apps or their placement on the home screen.

iCloud therefore stands head and shoulders above the rest(even if iTunes might be faster.) It’s proven to be a reliable repository of backups, while managing a cornucopia of other data – mail, contacts, calendars, etc. It’s a pretty sweet deal that all you need is to plug in to power for a backup to kick off, which makes testing devices by wiping them just about as easy as it can get. (Assuming the apps have the right iCloud-compatibility, so the saved games and other sandbox data can be backed up…) Could it be better? Of course. What’s your radar for restoring a single app? (At this point, that can be accomplished with iTunes and manual interaction only.) How about more control over frequency/retention? Never satisfied, these IT folk.

Install A Profile On Apple TV Using Apple Configurator

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

With a recent software update administrators gained the ability to apply network management profiles to 2nd and 3rd generation Apple TV devices. Apple TV supports applying profiles via HTTP download or using the most recent update to Apple Configurator, which had been for iOS devices only.

Applying a profile to an Apple TV using Apple Configurator requires:

Create a Wifi configuration

Most options in Apple Configurator apply only to iOS devices but wifi settings will apply to Apple TV as well. Creating a profile to configure wireless network settings can be useful for deploying multiple Apple TVs and preventing network changes.

  1. Launch Apple Configurator and make sure the Prepare pane in the toolbar is selected.
  2. Enter a meaningful name for this configuration.
    Start Apple Configurator
  3. Click the ” + ” button (plus) at the bottom of the window and select Create New Profile… from the drop down menu.
  4. Under the General settings payload of the new profile complete the mandatory fields of the payload.
    Profile General Settings
  5. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the General settings payload window to include additional security information for allowing removal of the profile.
    General security settings
  6. Select Wi-Fi settings payload in the left column and populate the settings to join the Apple TV to a wireless network.
    Wi-Fi settings
  7. Click the Save button and the new profile will appear in the Profiles list for the configuration.
    Profiles list
  8. At this point connect the Mac to the Apple TV using the USB cable. If necessary, unplug the video cable leading to the television.
  9. Click the Prepare button at the bottom of the Apple Configurator window and click the Apply button when prompted.
    Apply
  10. The name from the Apple TV will appear in the right column and details about the progress will flash below the name. Applying the configuration should take just a few seconds. When the progress indicator to the right shows complete disconnect the USB cable from the Apple TV.
    Applying settings

Verify the profile

The profile name appears on the Apple TV under Settings.

  1. Navigate to the main menu of the Apple TV.
    Apple TV main screen
  2. Select Settings –> General.
    Apple TV settings
  3. Scroll to the bottom and select Profiles. Select the Apple TV – Wifi profile that was upload via Apple Configurator to view its details.
    Apple TV profile

If the profile allows removal then the Remove Profile button is available at the top of the profile information screen. Otherwise, it’s dimmed. The Apple Configurator can overwrite this profile with another one that allows it to be removed.

Publishing the profile to a website

Apple Configurator can also create a .mobileconfig file to publish to a website for download directly to the Apple TV. To create the file return to the Profiles list on the Prepare pane and highlight one or more profiles. Click the Share icon at the bottom to save the file.