What's new for mobile management in iOS 6?
With the release of iOS 6 today, Apple has divided up the new mobile management capabilities for iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches. The way it divided these features is squarely across the different needs/demands of BYOD environments compared to corporate-owned or liable devices. In doing so, Apple illustrated that it is more plugged into its business customers' needs and is more enterprise-aware than many IT leaders and professionals might think.
Apple delivered a slim set of new iOS 6 management options for mobile management vendors and IT professionals as a whole. Here are some of the new capabilities:
- Set the device wallpaper for the lock screen and/or home screen
- Prevent recent contacts (the kind that mail apps include in auto-complete features)from syncing to the mail server
- Disable Shared Photo Stream - a step up from iOS 5's disabling of a personal Photo Stream
- Disable Passbook from appearing on the screen when the device is locked
- Automatically remove configuration profiles and their management settings on a certain date or after a given period of time.
These are nice updates, and some have security implications, but there's nothing earth-shattering or revolutionary.
Beyond that standard set of options, Apple did build out more robust capabilities. But there's a catch: these additional management options are only available to devices that are configured in a supervised manner using Apple's free Apple Configurator.
Apple Configurator is an iOS deployment and management tool that Apple released this spring along with the latest iPad. It's a rather hands-on tool that lets an organization deploy iOS devices complete with a selection of apps (volume licensed, free, and internal to a company) and management settings and restrictions.
Configurator works well as a deployment and management solution for small organizations, and can serve as a deployment tool integrated with more advanced over-the-air mobile management systems. Where it really excels is streamlining managed iOS deployment, handling app licensing at a business level (complete with the ability to reclaim licenses), setting up shared device programs, and setting up non-personal devices -- such as point-of-sale terminals, in-flight entertainment systems, or digital concierge systems.
The one common theme in Apple Configurator's handful of workflows is that they are intended for company-owned and managed devices. They aren't really appropriate for BYOD devices. That seems to be a distinct design choice based on the way Configurator is designed to protect BYOD user privacy if the software is used in a BYOD context.
This remains true with the new iOS 6 management capabilities that require Configurator. These new options aren't really appropriate to personally owned devices because they are too restrictive or specific to certain needs. For instance, administrators can:
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