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Jun 9, 2021
12 min read
Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference is back this year with exciting new features and OS announcements as always. Like WWDC 2020, the conference is entirely virtual this year too. We expected that it would be hard to trump WWDC 2020, where Apple revolutionized Macs with the introduction of Apple Silicon chips. In WWDC 2021, Apple has delivered what we already expected – the introduction of new OS versions iOS 15, iPad OS 15 and the new macOS Monterey. These new versions come with a variety of fun and useful features like SharePlay, spatial audio, focused notifications, security and privacy updates, and many more.
For us device management geeks, the “What’s new in managing Apple devices” session was the one that got us really excited. We got a sneak peek into how Apple sees the future of device management, and of course, we rushed to share it with you.
Installing apps in supervised iOS devices has always been smooth. The apps would get silently installed without the need for any user intervention. What about unsupervised devices? The user would get a prompt to install the app, where they could decline to install the application. The new Required App feature allows the admin to install one application to the unsupervised device without prompting the user. The user privacy is still protected as the user has to consent to silent app installation during the initial MDM enrollment.
For iPhones and iPads, Apple has a managed open-in feature that controls the flow of data between managed and unmanaged apps. Here, any app that is installed by the MDM is considered a managed app. The new Managed Pasteboard restriction controls whether copy/paste is affected by managed open-in or not. System apps such as Calendar, Notes, Mails and Files would honor this restriction. The system and third-party apps require no additional changes to implement this feature.
Last year, Apple introduced shared iPad for business. To use the shared iPad, the user had to use their managed Apple ID authentication. Temporary session on shared iPads enables anyone to use the devices.
iPhones, iPads and Mac computers use Bonjour to discover Apple TV. The introduction of a new security feature in tvOS 15 prevents the broadcasting of MAC addresses over Bonjour. Due to this change, PIN prompts in Apple TVs can no longer be blocked. For seamless deployments, Apple has introduced the option for filtering Apple TV device names in the Remote widget. This would prevent any unwanted pairing prompts.
Apple has introduced a new feature called RemovableSystemExtension. This allows an app to remove its own system extension, say when the app uninstalls itself. This is useful in Mac computers with no admin user since the admin password is not required to remove the system extension in this case.
In WWDC 2020, the ability of Mac computers running Apple Silicon to install iOS and iPadOS apps was one of the coolest features announced. Now, we can know whether the Mac supports the installation of these apps or not. Apple has also announced support for managing iOS-style provisioning profiles in macOS Monterey.
In this session, Graham mentioned some other cool features in passing like declarative management and Apple Configurator for enrolling macOS devices. In addition to the general session on device management, this time, there were deep-dive sessions into important features:
We are very excited about all these changes and we look forward to seeing how these changes will improve the device management capabilities of organizations worldwide.