Apple eyes changes to iOS device management

At last week's developers conference, Apple rolled out a number of changes to the way iPhones, iPads and other devices are handled. Here's what those changes mean.

Last week's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote was loaded with news about  iOS 13, watchOS 6, macOS Catalina, the newly christened iPadOS and the new Mac Pro (which returns to a tower enclosure with serious upgrade and customization options).

Tucked away at the end of the conference late in the week was a 59-minute session: “What’s new in managing Apple devices” (it's now available via streaming from Apple’s developer site). The presentation, combined with related sessions and documentation, offered major news that most enterprise IT pros will cheer:

  • Apple has created a new managed-user profile for BYOD devices.
  • The company has created a single sign-on extension for iOS and macOS that simplifies authentication and secure access to enterprise systems, clouds and apps.
  • Apple Business Manager (and Apple School Manager for K-12 education) will become the sole solution for purchasing/managing enterprise apps.
  • The company, after two years of warning, showed it's finally moving device management to Supervised devices only. (Devices that are already deployed won't see a change in management profiles until they are restored.)
  • Apple has revamped documentation for its mobile device management (MDM) platform to make it easier to find information, separating it from much of the developer-specific content.

That’s a pretty hefty list, though the first two items are the most significant.

A new take on BYOD

One challenge to getting employees to sign on to BYOD programs has always been  concern about the level of control IT will have over a worker's devices. There are also ongoing questions about what information IT can query about the device and its use.

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