Posts Tagged ‘iOS Deployment’

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.

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.

The State of Tablets in Schools

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Any managed IT environment needs policies. One of the obvious ones is to refresh the hardware on some sort of schedule so that the tools people need are available and they aren’t hampered by running new software on old hardware. Commonly, security updates are available exclusively on the newest release of an operating system. Tablets are just the same, and education has been seeing as much of an influx of iOS devices as anywhere else.

Fraser Speirs has just gone through the process of evaluating replacements for iPads used in education, and discusses the criteria he’s come up with and his conclusions on his blog

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.

MacSysAdmin 2012 Slides and Videos are Live!

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

318 Inc. CTO Charles Edge and Solutions Architect alumni Zack Smith were back at the MacSysAdmin Conference in Sweden again this year, and the slides and videos are now available! All the 2012 presentations can be found here, and past years are at the bottom of this page.