While the iPad was created as a consumer device, it is growing in popularity both in the enterprise sector and in schools. Bringing the iPad to a group of users raised a host of practical issues including how to configure all of the devices identically so they were uniform and appropriate for the setting.
Apple Configurator, which is available as a download from the Mac App Store attempts to solve the problem of configuring multiple iPads. It is possible to update 30 devices, so an institution’s students, workers or clients can all simultaneously receive an updated iOS, new app, or configuration change.
This new Mac app also allows a group of iPads to be supervised, and can limit the ability of a user to sync to an outside computer. When iPads are purchased for a group, albeit students, military, or government board, the question of preventing users from playing Angry Birds or checking Facebook when they should be working is always paramount. Apple Configurator’s ability to limit how an iPad can be used helps put those concerns to rest.
While the app can broadcast settings and updated to a number of iPads at once, Apple Configurator also allows iPads to be assigned to specific users, and customized to that user’s needs. The app allows an iPad to be assigned or checked out to a specific user, and ensures that the device will remember that user’s data and settings.
While not as alluring as a new iPad, Apple Configurator demonstrates Apple’s tangible response to the consumerization of IT, which is exciting. One computer can now be used easily to manage a fleet of iPads, and Apple takes another step toward replacing desk tops and lap tops. Of course, at least one person in the organization still needs a Mac to run the app, so while this app doesn’t completely eliminate the need for a PC, it does simplify the process of bringing iPads to a large group of people with synchronized needs such as a class room of students or the sales fleet of a small business.