Configuring iPhone 6 for Enterprise

I’m sure I’m not alone in grappling with the thorny issue of rolling iPhone 6’s out to business users. The problem lies within Apple’s Activation lock which is designed to make stolen iPhones unusable.

Basically, once an iPhone (5 or newer) or iPad (4 or newer) has been signed into with an iCloud login and ‘Find My Phone’ has been enabled, the phone is linked with that iCloud account. Even when wiping the phone via recovery mode, the phone will first check back with Apple to see if it’s listed against a user before allowing you to set it up. If it is listed, it’ll prompt for the associated iCloud account login to unlock and activate it.

So, if a phone is returned to IT without first being wiped by the previous owner, you’re pretty much left with a very expensive paper weight.

There’s a couple of ways around this, and whether they are viable or not will depend on the size of your business and how big your fleet of Apple devices are.

First you can lock personalisation of the phone down and provide a company wide user profile using Apple Configurator. Obviously, iPhones are seen as ‘personal’ devices and people tend to want to use their own Apple account so that they can install their apps, backup their photos etc. so this could be a hard sell unless you’re talking about communal devices like iPads.

Second option is to have them pre-deployed by Apple. Drawback is you have to purchase your units direct from Apple and not a reseller. In our case almost all of our kit is purchased through our mobile provider as part of a contract.

In the end I opted to go for a bit of a half-way house with Apple Configurator and put the phones into supervision mode but with a profile that’s largely unrestricted. This allows staff to use their own iCloud login and even enable ‘Find My Phone’.

A supervised phone can be put into recovery mode (hold down the home button when powering on) and connected to Apple Configurator to wipe and restore the device, even if it has a iCloud account associated with it.

One important note – you have to disable the ability for users to wipe their own phones. This will remove the supervision mode from the device and leave you vulnerable to having the device locked out.

Are you deploying Apple kit in your organisation? It’s always good to hear about other people’s experiences – leave a comment or tweet me!

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I (tried to) Watch

See what I did there?

So despite the live stream bombing out every few minutes I did manage to catch most of the Apple Watch announcement. I’m genuinely surprised about how closely aligned it is to Android Wear. Apple have never been first to market with hardware, but when they do arrive they usually do it best.

Couple of immediate concerns…

  • Reliance on Siri. Still sub-par compared to Google Now. I hear Apple are expanding operations for Siri though so watch this space.
  • Battery life! That watch is doing an awful lot of stuff. The Moto 360 suffered from 12 hours of battery and that was substantially bigger.
  • Simplicity. I’ll say it again, this watch is doing an awful lot of stuff. The way you twist. long press, touch, hard touch(?) & swipe didn’t seem as immediately intuitive as an iPhone or iPad. The benchmark will be my 3 year old daughter who can use our iPad with no intervention.

HOWEVER, it’s not all doom and gloom. The device isn’t going to see the light of day until “early” 2015. That’s plenty of time to optimize battery performance and tweak the interface. I saw one analyst state that the demo wasn’t actually aimed at consumers at all. It’s aimed at the app development community who now need to embrace this new device and come up with some tangible ways that it can improve upon using an iPhone alone.

Don’t write them off just yet – they’ve got a bit of a track record for this sort of stuff.

Waiting on the iWatch

More than anything else, I’ll be interested to see what Apple has to say about wearables tomorrow.

Google’s foray into smart watches has been like a public beta trail. Whilst the Moto 360 is undoubtedly the best looking of all the offerings, it’s also the one with the worst battery life, poor performance and intermittent Bluetooth connection. There’s some promising ways it can potentially work with Google Now, but for the moment it just isn’t quite there.

Moto 360
The Moto 360. Looks good, works bad (Source : Android Headlines)

Apple will no doubt apply their own unique engineering and design prowess, but it’s hard to see how they can improve upon the constraints of the current technology. If you consider that your iPhone, which is packed with sensors and high resolution screen, only lasts a day per charge, how much can they improve upon that with something that’s got even less room for battery? Do you really want to be removing your watch and charging it every day like your phone?

iwatch
Artist impression of what the iWatch band could look like (Source : MacRumours)

Of course, the other option is that it doesn’t have a display at all (much like Fitbit). This actually makes a bit more sense to me as I can’t see Apple wanting to sell you a device which is more or less doing the same job as your iPhone (albeit with massively reduced functionality). Apple is great at selling a lifestyle, so I’d expect an understated designer band packed with all manner of sensors that could work in conjunction with your other Apple devices to provide metrics on health, travel etc. etc.

Whatever happens – it’s going to inject some much needed competition into the race to make smart watches relevant.