Apperian offers iPad remote control features to eager IT pros

IT admins will now have the ability to remotely control employees' iOS devices for troubleshooting, support and other scenarios.

One of the most useful features for desktop administrators -- the ability to remotely control end users' PCs -- is coming to the iPad.

As more tablets have entered the enterprise, IT pros have struggled without the ability to support them in this manner. Such a feature has topped many admins' wishlists.

There's definitely high demand.

Michael Oh,
founder, Tech Superpowers

"It's total hyperbole calling remote access and control the holy grail of desired features, but it's going to be remarkably helpful," said Andre Preoteasa, director of IT for Castle Brands Inc., an alcohol distribution company based in New York City.

Apperian Inc., a Boston-based mobile application management (MAM) vendor, will release an administrative iPad remote control function as a premium add-on to its cloud-based EASE Platform. The feature also offers remote iPhone control, but most admins said they want to focus more on supporting iPads.

The value of iPad remote control features

The scenarios where remote control would be handy are pretty much the same, whether you're talking about an iPad or traditional PC. That's why IT pros have wanted this feature for a long time, Preoteasa said.

"As a troubleshooter, being able to remotely control a mobile device would be extremely useful when setting up, at the very least, corporate mail," he said.

Others concurred.

"There's definitely high demand," said Michael Oh, founder of Tech Superpowers, an Apple service provider based in Foxboro, Mass. "Anyone supporting iOS, or any tablet for that matter, would love to have remote control."

To date, most mobile device management vendors have provided the ability to remotely view an employee's tablet, but that's about it, Oh said.

"If it was easily possible, from a technical standpoint, you would see a dozen different apps out there," he said. "There's nothing I know of that allows people to take over an iOS device remotely."

One app, Veency, allows IT to remotely control tablets, but it only works on jailbroken devices.

"Obviously, jailbreaking every device under IT's control is not a viable option," said Craig Mathias, an enterprise mobility consultant with the Farpoint Group, an advisory firm based in Ashland, Mass. "Given the nature of iOS devices as very personal devices, it's unlikely Apple will ever develop its own remote control solution. So this could be a big deal."

Some observers, however, are skeptical that remote control is even necessary on a tablet.

"From my 2-year-old to my mother and in-laws, all of them have never really gotten stuck using an iPad where they really have to have someone help them figure it out," said Raheel Retiwalla, CEO and founder of GoFuzed, a Dallas-based enterprise social network vendor. "The only time people really need help is when they can't turn an iPad on, at which point this ability would not be useful."

Retiwalla said he could imagine certain situations popping up, outside of the help desk, where remotely controlling an iPad would be useful, such as when testing new applications or setting up devices for remote workers.

Apperian's iPad remote control breakthrough

IT pros struggling to support and enable mobility might not be aware of MAM and its capabilities, but they do understand the benefits of remote control on traditional PCs, said Alan Murray, senior vice president of products at Apperian. Company execs hope the iPad remote control feature will bring a greater awareness to MAM, which gives IT the ability to add additional code for enforcing security and management policies around individual business apps -- without touching personal apps or data.

Murray declined to explain precisely how Apperian will provide these iPad remote control capabilities, other than saying it takes advantage of existing application programming interfaces (APIs) and its MAM product. For an iPad to be remotely controllable, it must have a specific app installed through Apperian's EASE platform. Once the app is launched on the device, an IT admin can select the device through an HTML5-based browser interface.

The browser points to a session-specific URL generated by the app on the tablet, and once the session begins, the admin can interact with a remote view of the device and a virtual keyboard. Admins can also use a dialog box to type and submit information on their physical keyboards.

"We're merely a man in the middle connecting the iPad back to the admin interface," Murray said. "But we're all iPad users ourselves and wanted to put as much power in the end user as possible, so they feel comfortable using this."

For security, the end-user client is locked to the employer's licensed copy of EASE, so that only the proper administrators can gain access to the device. Device users must explicitly allow all remote control sessions, and access to the device is protected by a PIN, which an admin must enter remotely before the session begins.

The device user can even configure the client app to deny access to specific apps and other parts of the device. Access to the camera and phone are blocked by default.

Apperian will announce pricing for the remote control feature when general availability hits at the end of October. If demand for the product is high enough, Apperian would consider offering it as a standalone product, Murray said.

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How do you feel about being able to remotely control iPads?
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No need since iOS is profile-based. Install or remove profiles OTA. The devices are end-user centric, so you’d have to know end user passwords and user names to fix problems. ie- they want you to set up Citrix Receiver. The admin would still require the end user to supply their password. The end user could do this themselves with an email with instructions on how to set up the app.
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Not required for Ipad – but would be damned handy for Android based devices…
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in a corporation with multiple devices some form of device management is necessary.
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Required if they are to be part of any enterprise configuration.
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These devices are here to stay and if we can’t help the user fix a problem it will be another area that IT is seen not to deliver on.
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iPads are easy to use. But seeing what the customer sees is really helpful.
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I tend to agree with the comment that an ipad is easy to use – most problems i see come from connectivity and associated setting up of the device – most of these problems can’t be fixed by remote connectivity/takeover. You could argue it could be helpful to set up applications – most ios apps set themselves up and have little user set needs. While there may still be opportunties to use remote takeover – doubt the benefit will outway the cost.
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It would be a very useful tool.
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That's the need of the hour, the ability to remotely control iPads from the comfort of other devices, especially PC.
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We have deployed about 15 iPads instead of laptops to our regional managers. They are using these to do their job daily, and while they primarily consume information, there is a small amount of data that they generate. Being able to remotely control them and help them through a problem could be a useful tool.
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With the increasing momentum towards iPads in the workplace, this is a required tool.
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2x has an RDP feature that we have used for a long time, both on Android and iPad.
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Required for Federal use....
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need in todays operations
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In general, not needed. But when a user calls and needs helps, what a great tool to be able to connect to IPAD and work on it.
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Is this REALLY necessary? If your people aren't trained in your app, provide training (or hire a competent UI designer). That is a simple fix that addresses the root cause.

If your people can't muster up the intellectual horsepower to use an iPad... What exactly do they bring to the table? I assume they'd have trouble cutting their own food, or not eating their pens.
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Up to this point, I haven't seen the need for remote-control of a tablet device. If they get much more sophisticated, it might be necessary, so to me this is currently a whiz-bang option.
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I like it and its useful
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It's valuable. Good idea.
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As a work tool provided by the employer, it is a valuable asset to manage the equipment if it is stolen, lost or damaged.
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May be usefull.
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If someone is always on the go remote access, only if secure, is very valuable.
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Useful for Corporate iPAD users and Field Force
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This will prove essential to support business applications in the field on iPad/iPhone devices.
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can be useful to support a C-level user that needs help. We have users that utilize VPN on the iDevices, so if they are unable to connect to the VPN, our admins may be able to support them via the remote control client.
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This will make easier for support to manage users and machines.
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This feature will provide additional effective measures beyond posture assessment for policy driven security management.

Eddie Powell
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About time
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This is going to be great feature for admins.
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We await this product
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ipad is personal , the world of IT crime is big , so leave the ipad closed , one device i can use without suspiscion
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This is the age of doing everything instantly and the possiblities of doing remotely is the double cream on the stew, cheesy dishes and cakes- but watch out for that unwanted fat! Yes. Controlling iPads remotely is not going to be a remote possibility anymore!
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It opens for business use of iPads in the company..
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It will minimise troubleshooting when the user is not at the same location as an engineer would now be able to see the user's issue first hand.
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A good tool to acquire
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It's a cool utility, but how many IT techs really need to remote control to a users Ipad?
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1, PAD is very user friendly application. remote help is almost unnecessary.
2, IT applications have to follow up new & good trend_easy of use, just like iOS & Android solution which can saving lots of cost. microsoft type of interface are really sucks.
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I'm interested prmarily for my non technical clients who are buying the iPads, not reading the manual or who are too busy "multi-tasking" to keep track of what they're doing who than end up having an issue.
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Absolutely valuable! Deploying these to the field to end users that have not used an iPad will really help my helpdesk to complete the task with minimal interruption to our end users. The end users are there to sell products and not to spend alot of time to figure out how to setup the iPad.
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I'm glad our company doesn't allow personal devices and mobile devices unless its for a VP. IOS devices are killing IT as we know it. When was the last time you actually trouble shooted an ios device. There isn't much that can go wrong as everything is restricted and less functional than a proper PC (desktop and laptop included) windows 8 should change that but people for some reason don't care so much about function as long as it's pretty
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This is a game changer...
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