This content is part of the Essential Guide: Advanced guide to managing iOS devices
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Tackling iOS device management with Apple Configurator

Apple Configurator simplifies iOS device management and configuration and makes it easier for admins to prepare and supervise devices.

Apple Configurator is iOS device management software whose user-friendly interface lets IT administrators control...

and deploy settings to iPhones and iPads.

Configurator is available as a free download from the Mac App Store, and it requires a Mac computer with OS X 10.7.5 or later, running iTunes 10.7 or later. Managed iOS devices must be physically connected to the computer, either directly or through a USB hub. You can configure up to 30 connected devices at a time, and you can use Apple Configurator to configure devices running iOS 4.3 or later.

When you launch Apple Configurator, you're presented with three options: Prepare, Supervise and Assign. Each option opens to its own page, which lets you perform a set of related tasks.


On the Prepare page, you can create a configuration setup and apply it to multiple iOS devices. With the configuration settings, you can name the devices, number them sequentially (as part of the name), set whether the devices are supervised, choose which versions of iOS are allowed on the device, restore a device backup, identify apps to be installed on the devices and add profiles.

Profiles are where the actual configuration occurs. They determine what users can and cannot do. For example, you can define restrictions on built-in functionality (such as the device camera), applications, media content and passcodes. You can also configure a global HTTP proxy, Wi-Fi and virtual private network (VPN) connection, as well as an email account. In addition, you can integrate the devices with a Lightweight Directory Access Protocol service such as Active Directory.

A profile includes a number of configuration options. Simply select a category and then click on specific checkboxes or provide the necessary information.


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After you create a profile, it will be listed on the Prepare page, where you can then configure the management mode by setting the Supervision option to On or Off. If you specify that a device be supervised when you prepare it, you're setting up the device so that you have ongoing control over its configuration. Part of that process includes reinstalling the operating system in order to set additional iOS device management options on the device.

Supervising your devices is good if you share devices among multiple users, such as in a classroom or kiosk setting. Supervised mode provides almost complete control over the device. Unsupervised devices are probably a better fit for bring your own device scenarios where you only want to maintain some control over devices brought into the organization. For example, suppose you want to grant access to resources to a temporary worker for the next 30 days. When you set up his device initially, you can configure the access settings to expire in 30 days. After that, you do not have to be concerned about the device again. The worker's ability to access the resources will expire in 30 days, without you having to take any actions beyond the initial configuration.

Configuring supervised devices is much like configuring nonsupervised ones, but it comes with some additional options. For example, you can configure supervised iOS 6 devices to be bound to a specific application by using the Lock to App option. When this option is configured, the device goes to that app at startup and the user cannot leave it. This ensures that the device is used for one purpose only (another good option for a kiosk setting).

You can only supervise devices running iOS 5.0 or later. If you do want to supervise a device, turn on the Supervision switch, then click the Supervise button near the top of the Apple Configurator window.


The final option in Apple Configurator is Assign. You can assign supervised devices to specific users, and check devices in and out to those users. You can also back up users' data when they check devices back in so that data is available for later use.

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Best definition of supervised and unsupervised devices I have read.