Apple posted a new preview page for Education on its website yesterday showing off several features to help IT administrators configure and deploy iPads for education more easily. The features included a special Classroom app, a special School Manager portal, managed Apple ID accounts and shared iPad features. The School Manager portal and the shared iPad features are interesting for possible applications with the enterprise just as much as with education customers.
School Manager will be a one-stop shop for schools to create Apple IDs, purchase apps and prepare iPads for Mobile Device Management (MDM) control. A similar portal for enterprise users would greatly assist with iPad adoption for businesses, too.
In addition to the portal, the managed Apple ID feature would allow IT to setup and control the Apple ID used to configure and setup the iPad. From early trials with iPads in my corporate environment, the Apple ID configuration is one that is cumbersome to configure. The only good option is to allow each employee to setup their own Apple ID under a corporate email address. The IT department has no control over that address, either. It makes it difficult to manage from the IT perspective.
Lastly, the shared iPads is a new feature that has never been available. iPads have always been a single user device and I can imagine the joy for enterprise if a similar feature becomes available to them. Retail applications would be eased greatly if there was some way to do user account control and portability of user settings between devices at different sites. Not only in enterprise, but families could finally setup different accounts for children to share a device and have different parental controls or features enabled.
So, Apple’s announcement is clearly focused on education market. But, I think enterprise users can hope some of these changes make their way over for enterprise programs in the future.