back to article What? Apple products need management?! Cupertino intros device management for SMBs

Apple has introduced a device management service for small businesses. Dubbed Business Essentials and currently being beta-tested in the US only, the service lets users enrol Macs, iPhones and iPads, deploy apps to the devices, and assign them Apple cloud services such as iCloud storage, and even pre-configure VPN settings and …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple bought Fleetsmith a couple years ago. This is surely built on that.

    1. Ilsa Loving

      If they did, I hope they've made major improvements. When I evaluated Fleetsmith for our own use, it was shockingly disappointing. Ended up going with Addigy.

  2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    Big Brother

    I read this as all other device management systems are about to be locked out of the OS in the name of security. I won't shed a tear for them, but I'm betting that Apple's solution will be a nightmare.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There's always JAMF :).

  3. tip pc Silver badge

    Free family device management please

    I’d like to see a free family device management solution so I can manage parents and children's idevices remotely.

    Talking a parent through how to click, slide, click and hold etc is painful when you can’t see there screen and would be far quicker and less stressful all round to have some mdm to do it remotely.

    Given the huge cost of apple stuff, I’d rather not pay again for the privilege of them not visiting an apple store (if they had one local to them) or calling apple for something i could do in a few minutes.

    1. Mark 15

      Re: Free family device management please

      Good idea. I'd like that too.

    2. thondwe

      Re: Free family device management please

      It was possible to do that sort of thing with Cisco Meriaki IIRC since it was free for a while - moderately useful. These days I just use the Apple Family tools to approve Apps for the kids,

      Would be likewise great if MS included a Family/Intune setup in their MS365 Home product sets

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Free family device management please

      Apple's implemented something like that in a somewhat weird place.

      I think you need "Screen sharing" or something similar enabled in System Settings, but once that's active, you can use remote control someone elses MacOS machine which is initiated (weirdly) via iMessage. As long as this person is somewhere connected to the Net this will work.

      When you have a iMessage conversation with your intended person in need going (and the above screen sharing is enabled), you will find in the iMessage menu option "Conversations" two options, "Invite to share my screen" and "Ask to share screen" (greyed out of screen sharing isn't available). It won't just work, the person on the other end will get a permission box but it gives you full control and sets up a voice stream so you can talk to the person you're helping.

      If the Mac you're trying to control is on the local network, however, you may find it under "Network" in Finder, and with screen sharing enabled you'll find a button "Share screen" as soon as you select the machine. AFAIK that does NOT set up a voice channel at the same time (at least not in my experience, I use it to control my MacBook from my desktop machine).

      So there. And that's built in, no need to buy extra software.

      I think there's also a new way to get an iThing to export its screen to a MacOS desktop. I use software called "Reflector" for that which turns MacOS into a receiver for all sorts of fun stuff so you can have a lot of iThings on one screen (the reverse of "AirParrot which allows you to use more than just Airplay devices for playback), but apparently that may now be built in as well.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Free family device management please

        (I naturally had to check)

        The Airplay facility that's now part of MacOS only allows you to play an iThing fullscreen in MacOS. With Reflector I can have both desktop and however many iThings I want to share on the same screen - some careful gathering here enabled me to get 4 iPhone screens shown on MacOS at the same time. Serves no purpose for me other than working out what can be done (motivation enough :) ), but it's possible.

        That's just on a local network and without remote control, of course, but I have the impression that Apple has deliberately made remote control impossible on iThings to prevent it being abused to spy on people. On MacOS this is a bit easier to prevent.

  4. Mark 15

    Good idea, I'd like that too.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I suppose Apple has the capability to provide features and integrations with its own platform that other device management platforms cannot, but I would have thought that businesses would prefer a cross-platform management suite that can provision and manage all the devices they use?

    1. hoola Silver badge

      But that is not the Apple way. The only reason that Office was ever permitted was to ensure that it was not a blocker for selling the things.

      If Office had not been the defacto standard then whatever the alternative was would have had have been accommodated in the same way. The exception being if it happened to be an Apple product.

  6. Essex-Monty

    Looks like a rehashed version of ABM

    Apple already has a service called Apple Business Manager (ABM) that they describe in their documentation as:

    Apple Business Manager is a web-based portal for IT administrators to deploy

    iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV, and Mac all from one place. Working

    seamlessly with your mobile device management (MDM) solution, Apple

    Business Manager makes it easy to automate device deployment, purchase

    apps and distribute content, and create Managed Apple IDs for employees.

    I use it to assist one of my business customers that are 100% Apple kit having replaced all of their MS Windows devices a few years ago. This just looks like a rehash of ABM for the smaller businesses that don't purchase Apple kit through Apple's business team. As an ex field engineer I do find myself wondering just what an on-site visit will achieve unless the fault is definitely down to software. Nobody will be doing on-site repairs of any Apple kit thanks to Apple gluing and soldering everything in place.

    At least it will save me or some other unlucky sod from having to make a trip to the Apple store each time a bit of their hardware goes wrong as the on-site body can take it instead.

    1. Ilsa Loving

      Re: Looks like a rehashed version of ABM

      Except that this is also offering some basic MDM functionality, which ABM does not. ABM is all but useless for anything major without a 3rd party MDM attached to it.

  7. Essex-Monty

    The on-site repairs not what they seem

    Just taken a look at the Apple web page for this new service. The on-site repairs, yes they really are talking about repairs done on-site, only apply to certain models of Apple iPhone. So it won't apply to the dead M1 MacBook Pro that my customer has. Oh well at least someone gets to do a trip to the Apple Store. :-(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The on-site repairs not what they seem

      That's good. I was afraid I'd have to do everything I could to talk my clients out of this. The last thing I need is Apple trying to put me out of business.

      I don't really care about hardware repair, but if Apple starts doing IT services, I'm kinda screwed, I'll lose clients to worse services that my fanboi clients think are better because it's Apple doing it.

  8. chickendippers

    I did wonder why Apple removed certain Jamf enrolment options in BigSur:

    Now it becomes clear!

  9. Roland6 Silver badge

    >"If this is all Apple's work, that doesn't mean it's entirely hostile to the company's partners. One feature of Business Essentials is the ability to book authorised repairers to fix devices – that could be a third party, or an Apple store."

    So Apple gets to exercise even tighter control over the dwindling number of authorised third-party repairers and to extract additional iStore levels of commission.

  10. TRT Silver badge

    Is this going to be...

    yet another business / education oriented offering from Apple which has a life span of a couple of years or so before they cripple it (by failing to develop or expand functions or bug-fix to keep pace with OS development) or cull it altogether with no replacement or alternative?

    See also Xserve, PowerSchool, ARD etc.

    Don't get me wrong, when they do these things they usually do it beautifully, it's just that they have a somewhat capricious attitude towards anything that's not dyed-in-the-wool core consumer.

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