One aspect of iPads that needs improvement is management of devices and apps. With iOS7 Apple claims they have addressed many of these issues.
iPad App Store License Management
iOS6 allows for workable but clumsy distribution of apps using a combination of Apple Configurator and MDM solutions. iOS7 provides a much more effective solution to distribute apps while maintaining school control over the software, even on personal devices.
Teachers and students will be able to enroll their personal Apple ID on the Volume Purchase Programme website which can then be assigned an app or iBook by the system administrator. The app can then be downloaded via the iPad App Store or installed automatically by MDM. Apps can be revoked later for redistribution to other students or teachers.
The VPP store will also allows for the purchase of Mac apps.
Improved Mobile Device Management (MDM) Enrollment
iOS7 features automatic device configuration. New iPads purchased by a school can be wirelessly enrolled into their MDM system during setup.
Also, new iPads can be placed wirelessly in supervised mode, without the need for Apple Configurator, and reducing the input required from technical staff. We assume this will not need the device to be factory reset, as is currently the case.
New Mobile Device Management (MDM) Options
In iOS6 MDM management is limited, but iOS7 will greatly expand the options available to administrators.
With iOS7 administrators will be able to set up managed apps, control which accounts and apps can open certain documents, configure accessibility options and AirPrint printers, and restrict changes to accounts.
Teachers can remotely lock or unlock iOS devices into a specific app, such as an assessment app, ensuring that all students are on the same activity at the same time.
Single Sign On
Authenticating into your institution’s apps is now as simple as doing it once. Single sign on (SSO) means user credentials can be used across apps. Each new app configured with SSO is able to verify the user is allowed access to institutional resources and login without requiring them to enter their password again.
Air Drop allows iPads or Macs to connect peer-to-peer to transfer files between devices. Whether this will be suitable for shared devices is yet to be tested.
MDM Management of Apple TV
Apple TV can now also be enrolled in MDM. This allows remote, central configurator of settings such as Wi-Fi, languages. Most useful would be an option to remotely manage password settings, although I can’t find any information to confirm this at the moment.
According to Apple:
MDM can prompt a student to mirror their screen on a specific Apple TV, so teachers can easily put their work on the big screen.
Better Integration of Personal Apple IDs
With iOS 7 schools will be able to get verifiable parental consent for personal Apple IDs for students under age 13.
These are all welcome features, and goes to reassure many that Apple is taking management of devices in education seriously. While iPad management still leaves a lot to be desired it is unarguably the most comprehensive option available for mobile devices and leaves Google’s Android with a lot of catching up to do.