So iCloud Family Sharing is a bit of a bust. The wizard for setting up all the security measures on each account that you must create, combined with the lack of privacy, AND the fact that a payment method is now required are a real pain. If you’re planning to let children use the devices unsupervised – you’d be amazed what they can find on Youtube – and you don’t want to have to explain any number of topics you’re not prepared for, then you need a better method to lock down the devices.
The problem with Apple Configurator is that when Supervise mode is used (which is necessary to lock down most of the device), application distribution is designed to work with the Volume Purchase Program (VPP) which is closed to consumers. Even if you have a DUNS number (which is required to register as a business) you are stilled faced with purchasing multiple copies of software you’ve already paid for. Even for the kids on two devices, I’d be looking at $30 minimum to get Plex, Minecraft (a game they enjoy), and Move the Turtle (introduction to basic programming similar to Logo on the old Apple IIe’s). Since iCloud Family Sharing allows you to share apps between family owned devices (up to 5, I believe), Apple is not requiring you to pay for additional copies of software… UNLESS you wish make the iOS device safe for children to use.
There are subscription based Mobile Device Management (MDM) providers that provide access to some management features and application deployment capability, but I was unable to find one that really offered the ability to secure and customize the device to my liking. In any case, to deploy apps with via MDM,you still have to have a VPP account.
When the kids are a bit older, and are responsible enough to have unrestricted access to our iPads and old iPhones, an MDM provider such as Curbi. I’ll probably subscribe next year when Liam is 10. This way he can have his own iOS device, but I can control when it works and when it doesn’t from a well designed and easy to use iOS app.
For now, the challenge was to get an appropriate selection of the apps I own onto a phone configured and secured for each kid. Initially, I wrongly assumed that since the intention was to deploy apps via VPP, there was likely no easy alternative to purchasing additional license for the software in order to make the phones safe for children. Ultimately, I found the checkbox which allows Supervise mode to be used without removing existing applications. Always the damn checkboxes that get me!
Here’s what the preferences pane look like:
Best to clear both if you don’t want to waste time
The default settings are both boxes checked. Since I failed to notice that when I first setup the phones, Every time I applied a profile, all the apps were wiped off the phone. Very frustrating to say the least.
Lock screen preferences are found here:
The benefit of using Supervise mode
to be continued…