Enter Apple Configurator 2, a free tool on the Mac App Store. This tool basically fixes most setup challenges for iOS, but does so over USB. This means that Apple Configurator is not a replacement for Bushel. In fact, we get a lot of questions from experienced Apple administrators about how to use profiles that we don’t yet support. So Apple Configurator is great way to get settings on devices that you don’t need to update over the air (e.g. initial setup options). Apple Configurator 2 is a tool that can help to manage iOS devices during a mass deployment and do so in a manner that is easy enough that you don’t need a firm background in IT to manage devices on a day-to-day basis.
Here is what Apple Configurator can do:
Update iOS devices to the latest version of iOS.
Rename devices using a numbered scheme (e.g. iPad 1, iPad 2, etc).
Erase (wipe) iOS devices.
Backup and Restore iOS devices.
Deploy profiles/policies (e.g. no Siri for you, disable cameras, setup wireless, etc) to iOS devices.
Activate devices (after all a restore of a freshly activated device is an activation).
Push any kind of app to devices.
Track Volume Purchase Program (VPP) codes used on devices.
Manage the wallpaper on “Supervised” devices (more on supervision later).
Manage the names of devices en masse.
Load content to apps on devices.
Skip initial Activation steps on devices.
Apple Configurator 2 does have some caveats, including the following:
In order to push apps through Apple Configurator, the system running Configurator needs access to Apple’s servers and Apple Configurator needs an AppleID associated with it that is not the VPP facilitator if you are leveraging any paid apps.
You can use Apple Configurator “off-line” or without an AppleID to Prepare devices with Profiles, just not to Activate devices. For the initial device activation process, Macs running Apple Configurator will need to be online. Additionally, you’ll be prompted to enter your Apple ID routinely.
If you push Trust and Enrollment profiles to automatically join an MDM, the device isn’t associated with a user unless the MDM has been prepped to designate each UDID or Serial Number to a given user. Bushel doesn’t yet support mass enrollment in this fashion but will.
If you accidentally plug in your iPhone to a machine and you’re using Apple Configurator on it and you’ve chosen to Erase in the application, then it will wipe your phone along with the 30 iPads you’re wiping. It’s awesome and scary like that (yes, I’ve accidentally wiped my phone).
I see a number of uses for Apple Configurator. Some of these use cases include:
Company and education labs: manage devices end-to-end (no MDM, iTunes iPhone Configuration Utility or other tools needed), managed by the lab manager.
One-to-One environments (schools): Manage the distribution of infrastructure settings (mail, wireless networks, etc) for devices as well as Trust Profiles to make it faster to enroll in MDM environments and Web Clips to manage the links for enrollment.
Device distribution: Pre-load applications (that can’t be updated unless they’re cradled again), renaming, profiles, activation, iOS software updates, etc.
Backup and Restore only stations where you don’t interfere with later iTunes use.
These can enhance practically every environment I’ve worked with. But unless it’s a small environment (e.g. the labs), Apple Configurator isn’t a replacement for the tools already in use in most cases, like an MDM solution. Instead, it just makes things better. Overall, Apple Configurator 2 is a welcome addition to the bat belt that we all have for iOS management and deployment. Now that we’ve looked at the when/where of using it, let’s look at the how.
At this point, we’ll explore the Profiles options in Apple Configurator 2. To create profiles, use the File menu and click on New Profile.
At the Untitled profile name, enter a name in the Name field. This is how it will appear in the Profiles section of Apple Configurator. Because you can deploy multiple profiles, I’m just going to configure the SSID and Web Clip and call it MDM Enrollment Staging. Optionally, give it some notes, organization name, etc.
Click on Wi-Fi and then click on the Configure button. Here, enter the SSID of the deployment network (MDMEnroll in this example). We’ll use the Hidden Network field to indicate the SSID is suppressed and we’ll use the network type of WEP and throw the password into the Password field as well. Now, before we move on, notice that there’s a plus and minus sign in the top right of the screen? You can deploy multiple of each, so if you have 10 wireless networks, 4 Email accounts, 9 VPN connections, 29 SSL Certs etc, you could deploy them all easily with multiple entries of each.
Next, we’ll go ahead and enter a name for our Web Clip and the URL that the device will point to.
We’ll also disable certain features of iOS. To do so, click on Restrictions, and uncheck various boxes in order to disable features you don’t wish to use.
Go ahead and close the window and you’ll be prompted to save the profile.
You’ll then see MDM Enrollment Staging.mobileconfig in the Finder where you selected to store it.
Apple Configurator 2 is really a great tool when used in the right scenarios. In learning how it works and interacts I actually learned a lot about both iOS and Mac OS X that I didn’t know before. I hope I did the tool justice with how easy it is to use. This is a fairly long article and it’s probably more complicated than it needs to be in parts, but that’s more my method of trying to figure out what it’s doing than the tool being complicated. It’s not hard to figure out at all. I am sure I could teach any non-technical iOS admin basic use of Apple Configurator 2 in less than an hour.
Overall, in Apple Configurator 2, we have a new, powerful iteration in our arsenal that makes up the iOS administration ecosystem. I also hope that no matter what, if you manage iOS devices, that you’ll take a look at it. I expect you’ll find it useful in some part of your management toolkit!
One of the common tasks to perform when doing some larger iOS deployments is to restore an iOS device as part of setting the device up for users. Restoring a device will retain a few things like icon placement on a device. To restore a device, we’ll first create a backup, described here. As of Apple Configurator 2, you can use iTunes and Apple Configurator 2-sourced backups of devices. You can also now assign the restore task to a Blueprint or do so manually.
To get started with restoring a device, first plug in a device and open Apple Configurator.
Right-click on a device and then choose the Restore from Backup… option.
You’ll then be prompted to verify that you want to restore the device. To restore the device, click Restore.
At the “Restore from the backup screen”, select the backup to use as your restore point and click Restore.
When prompted, provide the password for the backup and click on the Restore Backup button.
If the device has been prepared, you will be prompted to approve the restore. Assuming you actually want to restore the device, click on the Restore button.
You will need to accept the iOS licensing agreement. Click Accept when prompted.
The restore will start.
You can also assign a Back Up to a Blueprint. Then, any time the Blueprint is assigned to a device, you will restore the selected backup. To do so, bring up the Edit Blueprint screen and then right-click on the Blueprint to edit.
Select Restore from Backup… from the menu and select the appropriate backup. Then, when the Blueprint is applied to a device, the device will be restored using the selected backup.
A common question we get in the media is whether or not an employer can look at email on an employees device. The answer is that an employer cannot use Bushel to see mail or content on a device. This isn’t to say that you can’t use your Exchange, Office 365, or Google Apps administrative accounts to view your email. But Bushel doesn’t have anything to do with that.
Apple has a strong sense of privacy around devices. Devices should be able to be used to access your data (email, app content, etc) in such a way that you have no concern about the privacy of that data. You cannot view what someone is doing on a device unless that user specifically AirPlays their display to another device. You cannot see data as it’s being transferred to devices. You cannot see what Apple ID is used on a device.
But you can secure the data. You can silo your organizations data using Managed Open-In. This allows you to flag all data coming through mail accounts and apps that your organization gave a device so that those files cannot be copied to mail accounts and apps that your organization did not give a device. This doesn’t mean you can see those files, or access them. Only that you can control how they move within devices.
Overall, the privacy controls for iPads and iPhones are the most well thought out and well orchestrated security controls in the industry. A user can have a solid sense that their data is only able to be viewed by them, without concern that prying eyes are creeping on their devices. And an employer can have a sense of security that their data can be pulled from devices they own and BYOD devices, in the event that there is turnover or a device falls outside of their control.
Bushel gives you three devices for free. But you can get more free devices if you like the product and choose to share it with your friends and family. To do so is pretty straight forward. Simply click on the Accounts icon in the sidebar and then click on the Profile tab. Here, towards the bottom of the screen, you’ll see the Referrals section.
Here, you have a link you can use in emails, Tweets, LinkedIn, etc. There are also icons that allow you to share your referral code in the more popular social networks. If someone signs up for an account, we’ll give you another free device permanently. You can get up to 10!
We hope you love Bushel as much as we do, and we hope you’ll choose to share it with friends so they can love it to!
There’s lots for businesses to be excited about with iOS 9. From easier multitasking on iPad, commuting with Transit view in Maps, enhanced notes, to an all new News app—there are lots of ways that business users can make the most of their iPads and iPhones by migrating to iOS 9. We encourage users to take advantage of iOS 9. Their devices will remain fully compatible with Bushel.
As your users get ready to update, below are some best practices around updating an iOS device:
Always backup your device before running a software update. This can be done with either iCloud or iTunes (or both). Having a proper backup ensures that you’ll never risk losing information. This article provides more details on how to backup: https://www.apple.com/support/iphone/backup/
Users should know ALL of their passwords before updating. This includes their Apple ID password, iCloud password, email password and any other account credentials that may be saved on the device. These passwords may need to be entered again after the update. If a user has forgotten his or her Apple ID password, it can be changed at iforgot.apple.com.
Let your users know that there could be some downtime with their device during the update. Their device can be used while the update is downloading, however installation will restart the device.This can take anywhere from 5-15 minutes to complete the install.
After the device is up-to-date, the user may be asked to enter passwords. After passwords are entered, users should also run any available app updates. Many apps will already have updates ready for the iOS 9 release and over the course of the next few days, most apps will have updates. It is important to run these updates to ensure all of your apps are optimized to run on iOS 9.
If you have any issues with your iOS 9 update, head on over to support.apple.com or visit your local Apple Store for assistance.