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!