Apple in the enterprise: What is Shared iPad for Business?

With a recent software update, Apple’s iPad OS gets support for an excellent feature borrowed from Apple School Manager called Shared iPad for Business. This lets enterprises share iPads between employees much more effectively.

What is Shared iPad for Business?

Apple first introduced the capacity to share iPads within Apple School Manager. The idea behind this option is that by combining Managed Apple IDs and the cloud it became possible to share fleets of iPads among multiple students.

A student would use their Managed Apple ID to sign-in to the machines, which would then be populated by all that student’s relevant data, apps and resources, including their own personal Mail account, app data, iCloud Photo Library and more. Data is all stored in iCloud and downloaded when required.

Apple’s decision to extend this support into enterprise deployments with Shared iPad for Business makes it possible to find new ways to use Apple’s tablets across industries, and provides a personalized experience for multiple end users.

It should be of particular use in retail, distribution and logistics, where employees frequently make use of mobile devices – which can now more easily be shared across teams. It also makes it easier to deploy apps across teams.

How does Shared iPad for Business work?

Employees simply sign in with a company-provided Managed Apple ID and password. The iPad then becomes their own while they are using it.

The employee has their own Mail accounts, their own files, photos, and app data. Since the data is stored in iCloud, employees can sign-in to any Shared iPad that belongs to your organization.

Data is cached on the device so employees can choose from a list of recent users to quickly get back to their documents, apps, and content exactly as they left them.

In schools, Apple makes it possible to login to the Managed Apple ID using a four-digit code. You’ll find in-depth setup and deployment information here.

What is a Managed Apple ID?

A Managed Apple ID is different from a user’s unique Apple ID. This protects individual user data and puts the company in control of that account and the data inside it.

You use Managed Apple IDs to access Apple services, including iCloud, Notes, iWork, and so on. They are managed and owned by the enterprise, which means the organization has control, which can be particularly useful when dealing with employee churn. There’s an Apple support document that provides details.

What about access to apps?

Keychain support is part of the system. What this means is that passwords for enterprise-approved apps and online services that you may use are linked to the Keychain that is itself linked to your account.

As a result, you’ll be able to use Apple’s own password management system to access those apps and services across the devices you share using that Apple ID. It also means other people won’t be able to access them using your Keychain, unless they have access to that ID.

How does this integrate with my MDM?

Jamf has already announced zero-day support for iOS 13.4, including for Shared iPad for Business. If you use other third-party mobile device management systems, then you should check with the vendor, as it is likely these are being or will soon be updated to support the feature.

Do you have to download the data each time?

When you use a Shared iPad for Business system, you’ll be presented with a list of recent users whose data may be cached locally on the device. In order to access that information, you will need to enter the credentials for your Managed ID.

What about temporary use?

The system supports temporary sessions. These allow users to sign-in without an account to use the device, and any data they leave on the device is erased when they sign-out.

What other enterprise features are in iOS 13.4?

There are some additional enhancements inside the new OS. They include iCloud Drive Folder Sharing, which also works with Managed Apple IDs and new collaboration tools introduced in Pages and Keynote, and enhanced pointer support in iPads. The latter does so much to boost their enterprise usage case.

The release also introduces proxy support for Push notifications, which means you can send communications across your device fleet using your MDM system. This will be of particular use within tightly regulated industries that use default-deny network access protections.

More info for remote workers

Feel free to explore my extensive selection of guides that should help the many Apple-using remote workers and enterprises that employ them:

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Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.





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