Tiny Deathstars of Foulness

I was going through Red Cross training recently, and one thing that was mentioned was whether we have Medical IDs setup on our iPhones. I do. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I’d set it up a long time ago. I then asked around and no one else had one setup. So I grabbed my testing iPhone and decided to write it up.

To get started setting up your Medical ID on your iPhone, open the Health app. From the Health app, tap on Medical ID and then tap on Create Medical ID.


At the Medical ID screen, enter allergies, medications you are on, add emergency contacts, provide your blood type, define if you wish to be an organ donor, and add your weight. Viola, you’ve now given all this information to first responders and medical professionals should they need it.


To then access a Medical ID on an iPhone, swipe to unlock the phone. From there, tap on Emergency in the lower left corner of the screen.


At the Emergency Call screen, you’ll see Medical ID. Tap here to see the information provided earlier, even when your phone is locked.


November 20th, 2015

Posted In: iPhone

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One of the tasks you’ll need to perform in Apple Configurator 2, is to assign Profiles to iOS devices in order to set them up with features or restrict the device from using certain features. I cover creating a profile here. To get started applying a profile to a device, bring up the Blueprints screen.

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Choose a Blueprint and right-click on it. Choose Profiles…

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Browse to the profile and then click on Add Profile.

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The profile is then applied to any devices that the Blueprint is applied to. For more on Blueprints, view this article.

November 15th, 2015

Posted In: Apple Configurator, iPhone, Mass Deployment

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Apple Configurator 2 is a great new evolution in iOS initial and configuration management. And there are lots of great options. And to help you wrap your head around all this new fun stuff, I’ve written up a quick and dirty guide for using Apple Configurator 2.

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It’s not completely done, but it will be shortly. Hope this help someone. Enjoy!

November 14th, 2015

Posted In: Apple Configurator, iPhone, Mass Deployment

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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:

  • Update iOS devices to the latest version of iOS.
  • Rename devices using a numbered scheme (e.g. iPad 1, iPad 2, etc).
  • Erase (wipe) iOS devices.
  • Backup and Restore iOS devices.
  • Deploy profiles/policies (e.g. no Siri for you, disable cameras, setup wireless, etc) to iOS devices.
  • Export profiles.
  • Activate devices (after all a restore of a freshly activated device is an activation).
  • Push any kind of app to devices.
  • Track Volume Purchase Program (VPP) codes used on devices.
  • Manage the wallpaper on “Supervised” devices (more on supervision later).
  • Manage the names of devices en masse.
  • Load content to apps on devices.
  • Skip initial Activation steps on devices.

Apple Configurator 2 does have some caveats, including the following:

  • In order to push apps through Apple Configurator, the system running Configurator needs access to Apple’s servers and Apple Configurator needs an AppleID associated with it that is not the VPP facilitator if you are leveraging any paid apps.
  • You can use Apple Configurator “off-line” or without an AppleID to Prepare devices with Profiles, just not to Activate devices. For the initial device activation process, Macs running Apple Configurator will need to be online. Additionally, you’ll be prompted to enter your Apple ID routinely.
  • If you push Trust and Enrollment profiles to automatically join Profile Manager (or another MDM vendor) the device isn’t associated with a user unless the MDM has been prepped to designate each UDID or Serial Number to a given user.
  • If you accidentally plug in your iPhone to a machine and you’re using Apple Configurator on it and you’ve chosen to Erase in the application, then it will wipe your phone along with the 30 iPads you’re wiping. It’s awesome and scary like that (yes, I’ve accidentally wiped my phone).

I see a number of uses for Apple Configurator. Some of these use cases include:

  • Company and education labs: manage devices end-to-end (no MDM, iTunes iPhone Configuration Utility or other tools needed), managed by the lab manager.
  • One-to-One environments (schools): Manage the distribution of infrastructure settings (mail, wireless networks, etc) for devices as well as Trust Profiles to make it faster to enroll in MDM environments and Web Clips to manage the links for enrollment.
  • Device distribution: Pre-load applications (that can’t be updated unless they’re cradled again), renaming, profiles, activation, iOS software updates, etc.
  • Backup and Restore only stations where you don’t interfere with later iTunes use.

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.

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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.

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Click on Wi-Fi and then click on the Configure button. Here, enter the SSID of the deployment network (MDMEnroll in this example). We’ll use the Hidden Network field to indicate the SSID is suppressed and we’ll use the network type of WEP and throw the password into the Password field as well. Now, before we move on, notice that there’s a plus and minus sign in the top right of the screen? You can deploy multiple of each, so if you have 10 wireless networks, 4 Email accounts, 9 VPN connections, 29 SSL Certs etc, you could deploy them all easily with multiple entries of each.

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Next, we’ll go ahead and enter a name for our Web Clip and the URL that the device will point to.

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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.

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Go ahead and close the window and you’ll be prompted to save the profile.

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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!

November 13th, 2015

Posted In: Apple Configurator, iPhone, Mass Deployment

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Apple Configurator has always been able to upgrade devices. But it can also now upgrade apps that are on devices. To run an upgrade, first open Apple Configurator 2.

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Once open, right-click on a device and click on the Update… option.

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You can update all assets on the device concurrently, using the default option. Here, we’re going to select to update only the items we need to in the drop-down menu.

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Select Only Some Apps and then you’ll see a list of each app that needs an upgrade on the device. Check the box for the apps to be updated and then click on the Update button.

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Apps are updated using an iTunes account. Here, you will need to authenticate using an account on the app store that owns these apps.

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Once entered, Apple Configurator will cache the apps and install them on a device or devices. The apps are only downloaded once, and then applied to many devices. These function even if the app store is disabled on devices.


November 12th, 2015

Posted In: Apple Configurator

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Blueprints are a new option in Apple Configurator 2. Blueprints allow you setup a template of settings, options, apps, and restore data, and then apply those Blueprints on iOS devices. For example, if you have 1,000 iOS devices, you can create a Blueprint with a restore item, an enrollment profile, a default wallpaper, skip all of the activation steps, install 4 apps, and then enabling encrypted backups. The Blueprint will provide all of these features to any device that the Blueprint is applied to.

But then why not call it a group? Why call it a Blueprint? Because the word template is boring. And you’re not dynamically making changes to devices over the air. Instead you’re making changes to devices when you apply that Blueprint, or template to the device. And you’re building a device out based on the items in the Blueprint, so not entirely a template. But whatever on semantics.

To get started, open Apple Configurator 2.

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Click on the Blueprints button and click on Edit Blueprints.

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Notice that when you’re working on Blueprints, you’ll always have a blue bar towards the bottom of the screen. Blueprints are tiled on the screen, although as you get more and more of them, you can view them in a list.

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Right-click on the Blueprint. Here, you’ll have a number of options. As you can see below, you can then Add Apps. For more on adding Apps, see this page.

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You can also change the name of devices en masse, using variables, which I explore in this article.

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For supervised devices, you can also use your Blueprints to change the wallpaper of devices, which I explore here.

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Blueprints also support using Profiles that you save to your drive and then apply to the Blueprints.

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Blueprints also support restoring saved backups onto devices, as I explore here.

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For kiosk and single purpose systems, you can also enter into Single App Mode programmatically.

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You can also configure automated enrollment, as described here. Overall, Blueprints make a great new option in Apple Configurator 2. These allow you to more easily save a collection of settings that were previously manually configured in Apple Configurator 1. Manually configuring settings left room for error, so Blueprints should keep that from happening.

November 11th, 2015

Posted In: Apple Configurator, Mac OS X, Mass Deployment

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One of the more common tasks performed in Apple Configurator is to create a backup of a device and restore that backup to multiple devices. This backs up the icon placement on screens, the settings on the device and anything not stored in the operating system or secure enclave of a device. Once you’ve created a backup, you can assign that backup to a blueprint or deploy the backup to individual devices.

To create a backup, first open Apple Configurator 2 and tether a device to the computer running Apple Configurator.

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Next, right-click on a device and then choose the Back Up option.

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Once you unlock the device (if locked) the backup process will start.

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That’s it. Nice and easy. You can now use the backup to restore devices or assign the backup to a blueprint so it will be used to restore devices that the blueprint is applied to.

November 10th, 2015

Posted In: iPhone

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One of the common tasks to perform when doing some larger iOS deployments is to restore an iOS device as part of setting the device up for users. Restoring a device will retain a few things like icon placement on a device. To restore a device, we’ll first create a backup, described here. As of Apple Configurator 2, you can use iTunes and Apple Configurator 2-sourced backups of devices. You can also now assign the restore task to a Blueprint or do so manually.

To get started with restoring a device, first plug in a device and open Apple Configurator.

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Right-click on a device and then choose the Restore from Backup… option.

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You’ll then be prompted to verify that you want to restore the device. To restore the device, click Restore.

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At the “Restore from the backup screen”, select the backup to use as your restore point and click Restore.

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When prompted, provide the password for the backup and click on the Restore Backup button.

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If the device has been prepared, you will be prompted to approve the restore. Assuming you actually want to restore the device, click on the Restore button.

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You will need to accept the iOS licensing agreement. Click Accept when prompted.

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The restore will start.

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You can also assign a Back Up to a Blueprint. Then, any time the Blueprint is assigned to a device, you will restore the selected backup. To do so, bring up the Edit Blueprint screen and then right-click on the Blueprint to edit.

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Select Restore from Backup… from the menu and select the appropriate backup. Then, when the Blueprint is applied to a device, the device will be restored using the selected backup.

November 9th, 2015

Posted In: Apple Configurator, iPhone, Mass Deployment

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One of the primary use cases for Apple Configurator 1 and Apple Configurator 2 is to get apps on devices. Even with MDM, you can use Apple Configurator 2 for app deployment. The value here might be that you end up transferring 10 gigs of apps over a USB cable, rather than over the air in larger deployments. Here, we’ll look at a basic app deployment using Apple Configurator 2.

To get started, first download the app and get it in iTunes. This can be accomplished by copying the .ipa file for an app onto a device, or syncing an iOS device with iTunes that has the app installed. Take care that the Apple ID associated with the app will be applied on the device. Then, open Apple Configurator 2 and choose a Blueprint (View -> Edit Blueprints) you’d like to apply, or deploy, this app to. Once uploaded and assigned, any device that you apply the Blueprint to will receive the app. Right-click on the Blueprint and click on Add and then choose Apps in the submenu.

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You will need to authenticate to the iTunes Store using an Apple ID. Notice that if you’ve previously connected Apple Configurator 2 to the iTunes Store that you will routinely get prompted to reconnect when the key expires (seems to be after a good 4 hours of inactivity, but not sure yet exactly when to expect – this might be a bit annoying for environments that have students that don’t have that password doing some of the work).

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The when you authenticate, you’ll be prompted for a list of apps to install. Here, we’re just going to choose some generic app and click on Add Apps (yes, that’s plural, you can choose more than one).

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The app will be listed. Any device the Blueprint is applied to then receives the app.

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You can also assign an app to a device manually. To do so, control-click (or right-click) on a device and then use Add to choose the Apps… option. The rest of this process is pretty much the same.

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Overall, these options are similar but a bit more matured than they were in Apple Configurator 1. There are a few other pretty cool options that we’ll explore soon, but for now this should get you started in getting apps as a part of your Apple Configurator 2 deployment.

November 9th, 2015

Posted In: Apple Configurator, iPhone, Mass Deployment

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Recently, I had my third Fitbit in a year break. I decided to pick up a Jawbone UP3 instead. But I got to missing my Fitbit friends and some of the other features that are great on the Fitbit. So I looked into using the Fitbit app without a Fitbit device. And I was in luck; I found that the Fitbit app has a feature called MobileTrack. MobileTrack allows you to use your iPhone as a Fitbit, in a way.

To setup MobileTrack, install the Fitbit app from the App Store and login with your FitBit account. From the Fitbit app, tap on the “Account” icon in the icon bar.


You’d normally add your Fitbit at this screen. At the Account screen, tap on “Set Up a Device”.


At the list of device types, you’d normally select the tracker that you’re installing. At this point, tap on “No Fitbit Yet?”


At the next screen, you can see an advertising message about what a Fitbit tracker can do, or you can proceed with setting up an iPhone 6 as your tracker. Go ahead and tap on Set Up Your Phone at this screen.


Once configured, you’ll see MobileTrack listed in the Account screen. Here, you’ll see the last time your account was synchronized. Here, let’s just tap on MobileTrack to see what’s up with it.


You’ll see that it’s syncing. And viola, you’ve now picked up a Fitbit without wearing it. Granted, there are tons of features I’ve grown to love about a Fitbit, like the alarm, altimeter, etc. But it’s a good start, still tracks steps (assuming you have your phone on you), and allows you to participate in challenges. So overall, not a bad little app, even without a physical device.

November 9th, 2015

Posted In: Wearable Technology

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