Apple Configurator App for iOS

New Contributor III

Today Apple Released Apple Configurator App (although it is still not showing up in my Mac App Store yet)

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This is a tool I got to play with at WWDC way back in June of last year. I was under NDA so I could not discuss how cool it was then.

This was (at WWDC) a true imaging utility for iOS devices and I am hoping in the months between then and its release now it has gotten even better. Its the next evolution of the IPCU

Apple Configurator makes it easy for anyone to use a Mac to mass configure and deploy iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch in a school, business, or institution.

Apple Configurator can be used to quickly and easily configure up to 30 devices at a time with the latest version of iOS, device settings (such as user accounts), security policies, and Wi-Fi settings, as well as apps and data.

So be on the lookout for it and hopefully JAMF can integrate some of these features into Casper 9



Valued Contributor II

I guess JAMF's CMA course requires a major rewrite now. iPCU was also updated today as well.

Contributor II

I'm going to be interested to contrast this to the tool in the resource kit. We've probably lagged a little in being better at mass enrollments of iOS devices, so we need to pick up the pace there!

It's good to see Apple playing ball with an app for rolling out larger numbers of iOS devices. Too bad it requires Lion though...

New Contributor III

We've been working with a beta of this since late summer (it amazes me how closed lipped Apple has been over this tool). The ability to build a configuration with apps and profiles built and NOT have it tied to an iTunes account has been very helpful.

Automated naming is exceptionally helpful (not as robust as it could be, but it saves a lot of time).

I'm having mixed results with the app itself here at home. The app crashes at launch on my mini server (10.7.3) while the last beta continues to load. My Macbook Pro (10.7.3) also crashes. VPN'ing to my deployment mini (10.7.2) appears to work. Odd.

I will say being released from Apple's unbelievably strict NDA will be a relief. We were capped on the number of people we could bring into the beta, so I've been the only backend person working with it. Being able to seed this into the field is going to be very helpful.

Valued Contributor II

also interested in how much/little JAMF can integrate the tool into their app.

New Contributor

Randy Saeks posted an introductory video on Apple Configurator yesterday
"... quick video tour of the application highlighting the main areas of the application and what can be accomplished in the area."

Contributor II

What are the advantages to this application vs Casper ? Do you see them as being used together ? For example setting them up with this tool and then enrolling them into Casper afterwards ?

New Contributor III

Upon my first glance at Randy Saeks' video overview, it looks like the biggest advantage this tool will offer is the ability to "unredeem" VPP codes from devices.
Unless I'm mistaken, that's a brand new function and it's not something that was previously possible using only the JSS, as the redemptions were tied to specific Apple IDs on the devices when deploying in that manner.

Valued Contributor II

Not really loving that once code is used through the configurator and if you lose your apple configurator database the code is gone/used forever in the case you need to reload the iPad and/or buy new devices. Not like if you redeem through iTunes how you can reload the app any time with that iTunes username/password.

Contributor III

Just to be clear, I don't believe the Apple Configurator allows you to actually un-redeem VPP codes. Once redeemed through Apple Configurator, those codes will forever be attached to the Apple ID used to redeem them, just as they would be through iTunes.

What Apple Configurator adds is an extra layer of tracking, allowing you to identify not only which codes are redeemed but which specific iOS device the app resides on. When you un-assign an app through Apple Configurator, it makes it available for use on any other iOS device managed through Apple Configurator - but it does not seem to allow you to go and re-redeem the app through another Apple ID.

Previously, you would have redeemed a single VPP code through iTunes, then manually tracked how many iOS devices that app resides on, and leaves you "on your honor" to verify that you only use as many copies of the app as you have licenses for. With Apple Configurator, it seems to force you to redeem *all* the codes, but then lets you assign them to specific iOS devices and track which devices they are currently on.

Even with that caveat, I'd have to say that this is definitely the most promising app that Apple has released in a while, particularly for a cart scenario.

New Contributor

Do I need Casper to manage iPads or will the Configurator be adequate. Configurator is free - Casper will cost every year. What are the benefits of Casper over Configuator? Do I need both?

Contributor III

I would say that Apple Configurator is a comfortable middle ground between the basics you get by using iTunes and the iPhone Configuration Utility, and a more elaborate MDM solution such as Casper. It will be up to individual organizations to determine whether Configurator is sufficient, or whether they would benefit from stepping up to MDM.

What you don't get with Configurator that you do get from Casper is any kind of self-service, over-the-air management, remote wipe, or anything like that. If those are features you need, you definitely want to consider stepping up to Casper.

Configurator, on the other hand, is ideal for cart-based setups, particularly one-to-one or shared usage scenarios where the iOS devices return to the cart on a regular basis. I would say if your usage scenario has iOS devices never leaving the vicinity of the cart for long periods of time, you are likely to be able to get away with just using Configurator.

Valued Contributor II

This paragraph is what has me hesitant about VPP redemption for cart situations

"If you lose the Apple Configurator database, your users will retain rights to use the apps already installed on devices, and you can reimport any spreadsheets to install additional apps on devices using unredeemed codes. But if an app is deleted from a device after you lose the database, Apple Configurator will be unable to determine the device’s rights to that app, and you will need to redeem another code in order to reinstall the app."

Right now if our sync station dies for some reason and isn't properly backed up - at least the devices that legitametely own/run the app can reload it on iPad restore using the iTunes username/password tied to the app.

To be fair I haven't had a chance to play with the configurator. I took that paragraph to mean if the configurator station/database is lost (hardware issue or whatever) without a proper backup, you lose the right to reload the apps redeemed through it with or without the apple ID used.

Am I misunderstanding?