Apple Configurator allows administrators to apply settings and apps to multiple iPads simultaniously. The latest update to Apple Configurator — 1.4 — allows a number of new management options for iOS 7 devices that school administrators will welcome.
Changes in Apple Configurator 1.4
The first thing you’ll notice are the new Web Content Filter, AirPlay Mirroring, and AirPrint options in the left hand menu. We’ll come to them later. But there are also additional settings available within the old Restrictions settings menu which solve a number of problems found in previous versions.
Apple Configurator Restrictions Panel
Show Today view in lock screen
Displays or removes the Today view which displays calendar events on the lock screen. This allows you to hide information from students that may be irrelevant or complicate the user experience.
Show Notification Center in lock screen
Displays or removes app notifications on the lock screen.
Show Control Center in lock screen
Enables or disables access to the Control Center — the menu accessed by swiping up from the bottom of the screen which contains AirPlay settings — on the lock screen. Setting this option means that the user has to enter a pin code or unlock the device before they have access to options such as AirPlay screen mirroring and toggling system settings.
Allow Touch ID to unlock device
This option is only relevant to iOS devices which have a fingerprint scanner, such as the iPhone 5s. At the time of writing this is not relevant to iPad. In future, however, this will enable or disable the fingerprint unlock options for your users.
Allow documents from unmanaged apps in managed apps
Allows or disallows users opening documents from personal apps in apps not provided by your organisation. This option creates a line of separation between your school data and apps which are not authorised or installed by your school.
Allow documents from managed apps in unmanaged apps
Similar to the option above this allows or disallows users opening documents from apps provided by your organisation in personal apps.
Allow pairing with non-configurator hosts (supervised only)
This allows for teachers and students to connect their supervised iPad to their own computer and synchronized or drag and drop their photos and videos. Previously only the computer on which the iPad was supervised could access the DCIM folder on the device.
AirDrop is a simple iPad to iPad file sharing system. But while AirDrop may be useful for teachers, allowing students the ability to openly share files peer-to-peer is probably something you want to restrict. Apple Configurator allows you to enable or disable the functionality for your users. I’d be interested to know ways in which schools are using AirDrop with their students. A number of suggestions I’ve heard include distributing work to students, or students handing in homework. Have you been using AirDrop in your classroom? Have you had any successes or problems with it? Let me know in the comments below.
Connect Supervised iPads to any Mac
One of the problems with supervised iOS 6 iPads was that they could only be connected by USB to the Mac on which they had initially been configured. This prevented users connecting their iPad to their own Mac to transfer photos and videos. In iOS 7 users can now connect their iPad to any Mac to sync their media. This setting is available under the Restrictions menu.
Web Content Filter
Apple Configurator now has a built in web content filter to allow you to control access to certain websites. There are two options available:
- Allow only specific websites and block all others.
This blocks all websites except the ones specified in the list — useful for directing learning in the classroom.
- Limit adult content with the option to blacklist or whitelist sites.
With this option specified adult content is blocked but you are still able to whitelist or blacklist websites of your choosing. It’s not immediately clear whether sites are blocked based on content or an Apple provided list of inappropriate sites. Once I have found out I will update here.It’s worth noting that wildcards (*) do not work in web content filter URLs. So, if you want to block Wikipedia.org you would have to enter all subdomains (en.wikipedia.org, fr.wikipedia.org, de.wikipedia.org etc.) and not just www.wikipedia.org.Filtering also works across browsers so, if your students are using Chrome instead of Safari, they will be equally protected.
Configure AirPlay Mirroring
Administrators can now specify and enter the details of AirPlay devices like Apple TV without requiring users to manually enter passwords.
In the Passwords box enter the device name as it shows when detected on your iPad and the password. In the Whitelist box enter the MAC address of the Apple TV (you can find this information in the network settings of the Apple TV) to only allow access to specific Apple TVs.
This feature allows you to better secure access to your Apple TVs as you don’t have to distribute passwords to users, and also allows you to limit access to specific Apple TVs for student iPads.
Configure AirPrint Printers
In Apple Configurator you can now configure AirPrint printer settings and control which ones you users can access. Simply enter the IP address of your AirPrint printer and it will be available without the iPad having to discover the device each time which can be inconsistent if you have a lot of printers.
Configure Managed “Open In”
This allows you to centrally control which apps open specific types of files. For example, if you want opening a text document in the Pages app you can. This allows you to manage how users store school data by limiting the apps
Allow Control Center or Notification Center on lock screen
Configure Limit Ad Tracking setting Install fonts – Enroll multiple unsupervised devices in MDM without tapping each device using a new Setup tab in Prepare – Complete setup assistant and enroll Apple TV in MDM without using the remote – Improved UI for installing a single profile on unsupervised devices
Improved Update Notifications
A feature which has been available since Apple Configurator 1.3, but which I find extremely useful, is the improved update status information. Rather than just being informed that an update is in progress or had failed, Apple Configurator now tells you exactly which stage your update is at and gives more informative error messages. A simple but nice change. You can install Apple Configurator from the Mac App Store for free.