Apple Launches Configuration Tool For iPad, iPhone Projects

Muffled in the din of last week's new iPad unveiling was Apple's launch of Configurator, a free app that configures and deploys up to 30 iPads and iPhones at a time.

Apple Configurator handles the busy work associated with getting new iPads and iPhones ready for use within an organization, such as imaging, assigning devices to users and installing apps. When an employee leaves, the software wipes the previous user's settings and re-installs the preferred configuration. Previously, these tasks had to be performed on a device-by-device basis.

Aaron Freimark, IT director at Tekserve, a New York City-based Apple Specialist, said Configurator is Apple's attempt to address the complexity that can result from bringing iOS devices into their environments.

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"A lot of people give Apple a tough time for being so focused on consumers. But now they are trying to solve problems that businesses face, and expand the ecosystem to account for company owned devices as well as ones owned by individuals," Freimark said.

Configurator is similar in some ways to mobile device management, but while that technology is aimed at bring-your-own-device scenarios, Configurator fits best in environments where the company owns the device and has complete control over it, according to Freimark.

"You unbox the iPad, stick it in a tray with 29 other iPads, and without touching a button, they're configured, updated to the latest version of iOS and ready to hand out," Freimark said. "It’s a mass imaging and control system for iOS devices, and opens up the iPad to environments where it has previously been challenging at best."

Teachers could use Apple Configurator to reset iPad content between classes, while hotels and restaurants could use the software to update menus and wine lists, Freimark said.

"This is going to enable a new class of how iPads are used successfully. You'll see them used more as a kiosks and single app use devices," he said.

Apple Configurator could also help partners that obtain Apple's Mobility Technical Competency (MTC), a technical services certification for deploying iPhones and iPads on enterprise networks.