Help me wrap my 2012 peanut brain around app distribution in 2016

New Contributor

Once upon a time life was easy. Students downloaded free apps themselves and paid apps were doled out with a code purchased from Apple. Buy the app, point the code at whoever is in a static mobile device group and done.

It had its drawbacks. Students needed the app store to update apps and the apps were permanent gifts to their Apple ID, but my peanut brain could understand device groups and VPP codes.

We’ve now entered an age of device and user group based distribution and I feel nonplussed. It’s not ideal that Casper’s interface, terminology, and instructions just don’t seem to help my dim wits. Just when I think I actually cracked the combo of steps and settings that get apps on iPads, it stops working the way I think it should. By the time I’m done experimenting, I’ve forgotten what worked and what didn’t or it magically changed. Or is it that I have to wait because instructions need to trickle out to the devices?

I’m hoping you guys can help sort some of this out for me. Let me explain my circumstances and what I think I know. (but I’m probably wrong)

Environment: 1:1 iPad grades 6-12. All the kids use eBooks for every class and grades 7-12 get the App Store unless on behavioral or academic restriction. We like Self Service more than pushing.

  1. eBooks. We still just buy VPP codes as they can’t be pulled back and it’s simple and works. If this is wrong and there is a better way, I would love to learn.

  2. Apps. This is where things go all wobbly and I could use some enlightenment.
    Premise: All our kids have Apple IDs, so a user group distribution is the best way to dole out apps? Process: We “buy” licenses, free and paid from Apple. Then I make a VPP assignment of that app with a static user group as the scope. But I also have to add the app to the device catalog under the Mobile Device catalog.

Here’s where things often go sideways. Sometimes it seems that process listed above works. On other occasions, it seems that it doesn’t unless I have the app scoped to both a user based and device based group with the same student and device. On other occasions it seems like I don’t.

Can someone point me to clear directions, a training program, or simply correct my vast ineptitude?

This doesn’t even address purely device based app distribution which skips the Apple ID, but somehow I still need to point it under the Users tab at user groups of people with Apple IDs. And many apps don't even support this method and I would still have to use another method. I’m confusing myself even more.

As a second aside, what does “managing” an app give me besides it being deleted from the iPad when I pull a student out of a group?


Valued Contributor III

@Lame33 Are you all set with your questions? If not please repost what you haven't figured out.