Apple finally allows admins to lock down iPad MDM settings, and wirelessly supervise devices. You may never have to unbox an iPad again.
Today, Apple announced a new iOS and Mac management service called the Device Management Program (DEP).
Similar to the iPad Volume Purchase Program, DEP is a browser based system that allows schools to manage iPads without the need for Apple Configurator. Administrators can now wirelessly supervise devices, lock down MDM settings, and better manage the use setup experience.
Let’s walk through the changes.
Device Enrollment Program
Until now the most effective way to manage iPads has been to connect them via USB cable to a Mac running Apple Configurator to apply settings and apps. But today Apple released the Device Enrollment Program (DEP), which is best described as Apple Configurator in the cloud.
With the Device Enrollment Program schools can:
- Supervise iPads over the air, without connecting them to Apple Configurator.
- Automatically enroll iPads in your chosen MDM.
- Provide a simpler consumer set up screen for teachers and students.
- Lock down and prevent students removing MDM configuration profiles.
These are all features which were originally announced to be part of iOS 7 but haven’t been made available until today.
Zero-touch iPad Configuration
With “zero-touch” configuration iPads can be supervised over the air without an administrator even needing to unbox the device. This replaces the previous system which would require the iPad to be connected via USB to a Mac running Apple Configurator. The iPads are then managed by MDM in the normal way.
One of the big complaints with iPad management is the inability for administrators to password protect MDM configuration profiles to prevent them being removed by students. This oversight likely lead to the Los Angeles iPad “hacking” scandal where a large iPad roll out was halted due to eSafety concerns. Apple’s Device Enrollment Program finally provides a way to properly protect MDM settings from being removed.
There are, however, three major issues with DEP:
- DEP only works on school owned devices purchased directly from Apple.
- Only devices purchased within three years of the school enrolling in the program can be managed.
- This program is currently only for the US.
In the US Apple has a direct sales model and has accurate information about who owns which device. Apple is likely using this information to relate devices to organisations. Outside of the US, where most school iPad sales are via re-sellers, it’s difficult to know how Apple intends to replicate this model, without moving to a direct sales model internationally.
While direct sales may be common place in US schools, for international customers the idea that iPads may only be purchased directly from the manufacturer is concerning. With DEP there is a real concern that Apple is locking down iPad education market pricing.
It’s great to see Apple paying more attention to enterprise iPad management. These changes, if effective, make iPad a truly scalable device in schools and address concerns that administrators have been raising for a number of years. We’ll have more details on this in the coming days.
To find out more you can read Apple’s deployment guide and further details in the Device Enrollment Program Guide, and we’ll have a full guide once we have access to the DEP system.