Apple Watch management: extending enterprise mobility

The Apple Watch goes wherever its wearer does — on runs, to the grocery store or to pilates class. With the ability to enroll and manage Apple Watch into mobile device management (MDM), organizations are learning the new possibilities this device can extend to the enterprise. This blog focuses on the history of the Apple Watch and how it can transform workplace mobility.

June 25 2024 by

Sean Smith

Person wearing an Apple Watch managed by Jamf

When the Apple Watch was introduced in 2014, it was heralded as Apple’s most personal device ever. As Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, said at the time, “…Apple is poised to captivate the world with a revolutionary product that can enrich people’s lives. It’s the most personal product we’ve ever made.”

But how did Apple Watch get to where we are today? Let’s take a look back at the history of Apple Watch.

2014 — The first Apple Watch

The introduction of Apple Watch. Its revolutionary design — like the Digital Crown to scroll, serve as a Home button or access Siri — and iOS-based user interface gave users an entirely new and easy way to interact, view and respond to information right on their wrist. In its first iteration, it came with 11 watch faces “from traditional analog faces to new faces like the dynamic Timelapse face; the Astronomy face with its interactive, real-time 3D model of the earth, sun, moon and planets; and the Solar face, a contemporary sundial.” But it did more than just tell time. Some of its highlights were:

  • Smart replies and dictation to respond to messages
  • Handoff, which allowed users to start a message on Apple Watch and continue on iPhone
  • The ability to use Apple Pay
  • The Activity app to motivate users to be more active throughout the day

That was the start. It only got better from there.

The following generations

With each succeeding installment into the Apple Watch series, Apple refined Apple Watch’s design, usability and performance to encourage its wearers to live a healthier, more connected lifestyle. Each year saw improvements not only to the hardware but to watchOS as well.

Let’s take a look at some of those highlights from various Apple Watch installments:

The next generation of Apple Watch — Apple Watch Series 2 — added features to enhance users’ workouts and improve overall usability, including a built-in GPS and dual-core processors for 50% faster performance and twice the graphic performance.

Apple Watch Series 4 included a redesign with 30% larger display, 50% louder speaker and a relocated microphone for echo reduction compared to its preceding version. It added haptic feedback for a more responsive feel when using the Digital Crown and larger icons and fonts that are easier to read.

Apple Watch Series 5 improved on its display by introducing the Always On Retina display, a built-in compass and international emergency calling. The Noise app showed users the ambient sound levels in noisy environments.

This version of Apple Watch provided a wider array of materials — including titanium.

Coming into the 2020s, Apple continued making leaps and bounds with the Apple Watch in Apple Watch Series 6 with continued improvements for faster app launches, getting a full charge in under 1.5 hours, 2.5x brighter display from its preceding version and language translation in Siri.

Apple Watch Series 9 was the first carbon-neutral Apple Watch, marking a major milestone for Apple in its mission to only create carbon-neutral products by 2030. It also introduced the double tap gesture, which allowed users to control their Apple Watch Series 9 without touching the display. Double tap controls the primary button in an app — meaning users can pause music or start or end a phone call.

The next generation

Announced at WWDC ’24, the next generation of Apple Watch continues to build from its history to help users live a healthy lifestyle, stay connected with friends and family and customize it to their specific needs. The upcoming watchOS 11 will allow users to:

  • Adjust Activity ring goals (including pausing rings)
  • Understand how workouts may impact the body over time
  • Add widgets that show up based on time, location and more
  • Download a message directly to Apple Watch for translations
  • Use double-tap on supported third-party apps

And so much more.

Apple Watch in the enterprise

Apple Watch has truly become more than a watch. It’s a way for its users to stay active, healthy and connected. It is part of its users’ daily lives, extending the Apple platform that so many users love.

At WWDC ’23, Apple announced something major for organizations — device management for Apple Watch; Apple Watch was officially announced as a tool for business with its ability to enroll into MDM. With this announcement, organizations could enroll and manage watchOS into MDM. During their announcement, Apple said, We want to enable organizations to create solutions that improve productivity, support wellness, and provide additional safety, deployed by Apple Watch to their employees.

Apple Watch coming to MDM — and by extension, work — has the same goal as it does for personal use: improve its users’ lives.

Apple Watch use cases

In daily life, Apple Watch is used for a number of different reasons. It’s used to track workouts, listen to music or to check a notification before deciding to respond on an iPhone. A major benefit is having hands free to perform other activities. The deskless workforce — whose job functions are mobile by necessity — often use mobile devices, like iPhone or iPad, to complete work. These employees are often on the move, working in retail stores or manufacturing warehouses, in flight cabins or in hospital wings. They need devices that can move where they do, but also need devices that can simplify their workflows and improve the experience. Today, many of these use cases are accomplished through with iPhone and iPad. But Apple Watch can now be another layer to enhance productivity, improve connectivity and increase safety for these workers.

While Apple Watch is still fairly new to MDM and business, there are a variety of use cases for how Apple Watch can be incorporated into work:

  • Badging into restricted or locked areas of a manufacturing floor, retail store or office
  • Airline baggage handlers wearing Apple Watch to keep both hands free
  • Nurses or other clinicians receiving notifications and alerts about upcoming appointments or patient emergencies
  • Utility crews or service technicians using Apple Watch to safely receive notifications
  • Manufacturing plant employees can more safely receive notifications while working with heavy machinery

These are only a few use cases for how Apple Watch can be introduced into business — specifically for deskless environments. But it is often the businesses themselves that help drive innovation into how new devices can be used at work. There is so much unrealized potential for how Apple Watch can power new experiences in the future of work. By enrolling Apple Watch into MDM, organizations are able to cross a major milestone toward that future.

How Jamf supports watchOS today

Today, enrolling an Apple Watch begins and ends on a user’s iPhone using Apple's declarative device management protocol. In order to enroll an Apple Watch, organizations must have devices with watchOS 10 or later that are paired with a supervised iPhone with iOS 17 or later.

When an Apple Watch is paired with a supervised iPhone and enrolled into MDM, the Apple Watch also becomes supervised. With this status, you can then apply some of the same capabilities to the Apple Watch as the paired iPhone. For example, you can share Wi-Fi configurations on Apple Watch when it is paired with a supervised iPhone.

Jamf supported management for Apple Watch starting with Jamf Pro 11.6. With this initial release, organizations can enroll, manage and secure their Apple Watch when using Jamf Cloud-hosted environments. But how does an organization actually enroll a device?

As mentioned earlier, it begins on a user’s iPhone and uses Apple Declarative Device Management (DDM). A user will open the Apple Watch app on their iPhone and tap Start Pairing.

iPhone Watch app option to pair Apple Watch and iPhone.

Initiating Apple Watch and iPhone pairing

During this pairing, the user is prompted on the Apple Watch to allow remote management. The paired iPhone then initiates enrollment with Jamf Pro.

Prompt on iPhone to Allow Remote Management on paired Apple Watch. Options to

Enrolling Apple Watch into MDM from the Apple Watch app on iPhone

After the user taps Allow Remote Management, the MDM profile is installed on the Apple Watch. At this point, IT admins can view inventory information about the Apple Watch alongside the host iPhone.

Apple Watch entry in Jamf Pro listing its general information, such as its name, asset tag, OS version and more

Apple Watch entry in Jamf Pro listing its general information, such as its name, asset tag, OS version and more

Once an Apple Watch is enrolled, there are a number of actions IT admins can perform. Let’s take a look at the following MDM commands, configuration profiles and inventory workflows admins can take advantage of:

MDM commands to help admins unmanage or remote wipe devices from Jamf Pro for security:

  • Unmanage device
  • Wipe device (single and mass)
  • Lock device
  • Clear passcode
  • Renew MDM profile
  • Update inventory
  • Send blank push

Configuration profiles to help admins secure Apple Watch with a passcode and manage passcode restrictions from Jamf Pro:

  • Passcode policy and restriction sync from iPhone
  • Wi-Fi profile with 802.1x certificate

Inventory workflows to help admins easily look up which iPhone has a paired and managed Apple Watch, view what is synced to the Apple Watch, list performance management tasks, scope devices and build reporting:

  • Inventory display
  • Advanced search
  • Smart Group criteria and reporting
  • Pairing information to understand which Apple Watch is paired with which iPhone


Since its inception 10 years ago, Apple Watch has continued to be integral for users as the most personal device Apple has brought to market. It helps users stay active, keep track of heart rate and movement, measure exercises, track sleep and so much more. With the introduction of Apple Watch into MDM, Apple Watch has an entirely new way to help its users. As organizations test how Apple Watch can fit into their current workflows or uncover entirely new workflows that were not possible before, wearable devices at work have been unlocked for organizations of all types.

At Jamf, we are excited to help organizations utilize Apple Watch so their workforce can work in a more productive, healthy and safe manner.

Interested in transforming work with Apple Watch?