Enter Apple Configurator 2, a free tool on the Mac App Store. This tool basically fixes most setup challenges for iOS, but does so over USB. This means that Apple Configurator is not necessarily a replacement for MDM. In fact, you can deploy Trust and Entrollment profiles for MDM and automate the MDM enrollment for a device through Apple Configurator 2. Instead, Apple Configurator 2 is a tool that can either help to manage iOS devices during a mass deployment and do so in a manner that is easy enough that you don’t need a firm background in IT to manage devices on a day-to-day basis.
Here is what Apple Configurator can do:
Apple Configurator 2 does have some caveats, including the following:
I see a number of uses for Apple Configurator. Some of these use cases include:
These can enhance practically every environment I’ve worked with. But unless it’s a small environment (e.g. the labs), Apple Configurator isn’t a replacement for the tools already in use in most cases, like an MDM solution. Instead, it just makes things better. Overall, Apple Configurator 2 is a welcome addition to the bat belt that we all have for iOS management and deployment. Now that we’ve looked at the when/where of using it, let’s look at the how.
At this point, we’ll explore the Profiles options in Apple Configurator 2. To create profiles, use the File menu and click on New Profile.
At the Untitled profile name, enter a name in the Name field. This is how it will appear in the Profiles section of Apple Configurator. Because you can deploy multiple profiles, I’m just going to configure the SSID and Web Clip and call it MDM Enrollment Staging. Optionally, give it some notes, organization name, etc.
Next, we’ll go ahead and enter a name for our Web Clip and the URL that the device will point to.
We’ll also disable certain features of iOS. To do so, click on Restrictions, and uncheck various boxes in order to disable features you don’t wish to use.
Go ahead and close the window and you’ll be prompted to save the profile.
You’ll then see MDM Enrollment Staging.mobileconfig in the Finder where you selected to store it. You can also save an enrollment profile from Profile Manager as we explained here. We could go that further further and actually enroll the device by exporting the enrollment profile as well, but again, I want each user to provide their username and password so I as an administrator don’t have to go through and attach each device to a user in this scenario. I’ve been looking at importing devices and associating them with users via postgres, but that’s going to be another 3am article, on another night…
Apple Configurator 2is really a great tool when used in the right scenarios. In learning how it works and interacts I actually learned a lot about both iOS and Mac OS X that I didn’t know before. I hope I did the tool justice with how easy it is to use. This is a fairly long article and it’s probably more complicated than it needs to be in parts, but that’s more my method of trying to figure out what it’s doing than the tool being complicated. It’s not hard to figure out at all. I am sure I could teach any non-technical iOS admin basic use of Apple Configurator 2 in less than an hour.
Overall, in Apple Configurator 2, we have a new, powerful iteration in our arsenal that makes up the iOS administration ecosystem. I also hope that no matter what, if you manage iOS devices, that you’ll take a look at it. I expect you’ll find it useful in some part of your management toolkit!
krypted November 13th, 2015