Google and Apple combine for optimized education workflows

With Apple School Manager introducing federated authentication with Google Workspace, it is now easier than ever for educators to work with the Apple and Google ecosystems side by side, getting the most out of each. Read on for observations about the power of Google apps on iPad.

August 25 2022 by

Tim Herr

Two hands holding an iPad Mini with the browser navigated to the Google home page

When determining which devices and software to provide to students in K-12 schools, administrators might view the decision as a simple binary: Chromebook with its supporting apps from Google, or iPad with its accompanying Apple apps. But it’s actually easy for schools with 1:1 or Shared iPad programs to enjoy the best of both worlds, with Google security, storage and productivity apps running seamlessly on Apple hardware. Using features like federated authentication and Split View for iPad, you can get the most out of the Google and Apple ecosystems side by side – and adding Jamf solutions to the mix makes things even better.

Apple School Manager integrates with Google Workspace for federated authentication

In March 2022, Apple announced the exciting news that Apple School Manager and Apple Business Manager would both introduce integrations with Google Workspace this year. At the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June 2022, the company confirmed that the functionality was now available. This development allowed IT teams using Google Workspace as an identity provider (IdP) to use directory sync and federated authentication on Apple’s platforms.

The end result of this integration is that with directory sync, records and Managed Apple IDs will generate automatically. Users can use their Google Workspace credentials to sign in to their Managed Apple IDs, quickly accessing the apps and content that they need. This type of functionality was already available for Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory, and its introduction for Google Workspace demonstrates that Apple and Google are easier to use together than ever before. Admins who rely on Google products for identity management and security will be able to use their preferred solutions in an Apple environment.

Apple has already released documentation for using federated authentication to link to Google Workspace within Apple School Manager. In order to take advantage of this new capability, Apple devices must meet the following operating system requirements:

  • iOS 15.5 or later
  • iPadOS 15.5 or later
  • macOS 12.4 or later

Google Classroom powers learning on iPad

Google Classroom is a highly useful app for education, allowing teachers to create, distribute and grade assignments while students can locate instructions and turn in finished projects. Structured by class or by custom divisions, it’s a great tool for navigating daily workflows, and as such many users find it helpful to refer frequently to its dashboard. Not only does Google Classroom run on Apple devices, but it integrates with many of Apple’s creativity apps that students and teachers alike use to create projects. You can put together a presentation in Keynote or a coding challenge in Swift Playgrounds, then use the Share feature to export the content to Google Classroom.

You can also run Google Classroom simultaneously with Apple apps by employing the Split View feature on iPad found under Multitasking. Users can consult the dashboard with classes on one side of the screen while doing creative work in the others, taking advantage of Apple’s unique apps like iMovie, Clips, GarageBand and Swift Playgrounds. It’s even possible to run the classroom offerings by Google and Apple at the same time, for instance using Google Classroom to assign work and receive assignments while employing Apple Classroom to monitor student devices.

Using other Google apps for learning on iPad

Google offers numerous other apps that are useful for K-12 education and also work on iPad. All of these apps can run simultaneously with Apple products using the Split View functionality outlined above. These include such popular offerings as:

  • Gmail
  • Google Drive
  • Google Docs
  • Google Sheets
  • Google Slides
  • Google Meet

One success story of using Google apps on Apple devices comes from the Holy Trinity Church of England Primary School in the Hackney district of east London. Here educators used Google Sites to create a staff portal, Google Drive to provide cloud storage and Google Forms to solicit student feedback and requests for assistance. The staff preferred to use iPad for learning but found many benefits from Google’s products. The choice of Google + Apple translated into lower total operating cost (TCO), in part because the school saved money for on-site servers because of Google Drive and reduced printing costs with Google Classroom.

“We found that the combination of Google and Apple meant that the functionality of Google was supported by the creativeness of Apple. The accessibility features in iPad are incomparable, and the ease at which children can have texts read to them are second to none. Children with English as an additional language can have lessons translated for them, and the microphone is used to support our development of oracy across the school.” – Catherine Thomas, Head Teacher and Apple Distinguished Educator, Holy Trinity CofE Primary School, Hackney, UK

Jamf MDM and security solutions complete the picture

The combination of Google + Apple can provide winning results, and educational institutions can enhance these results further by introducing Jamf solutions into the mix. Mobile device management (MDM) solutions like Jamf Pro and Jamf School make it simple to perform zero-touch deployments and provide students with devices that are already configured with the right profiles and permissions and provisioned with the apps they need. Admins can create web clips to direct staff and students to online portals, handbooks or frequently used websites – these can live on the iPad’s Home screen just like apps to provide immediate access.

Jamf MDM solutions are key for powering distance learning and preventing distractions, as admins can lock certain apps during school hours to maintain student productivity. The accompanying Jamf Teacher and Jamf Parent apps further empower these end users to tailor students’ engagement with their devices to keep them focused on the right activities when they are supposed to be learning.

Finally, Jamf Safe Internet is a new category-based content filtering solution that protects students from harmful, inappropriate or distracting content without infringing on their privacy. It’s easy to set up and schedule so that students can safely browse the internet for school projects and use their devices for personal entertainment during free time, all without encountering material that would adversely impact them. With a huge database of websites and a machine learning engine that improves its performance over time, Jamf Safe Internet enables students to learn fearlessly with the knowledge that they are being protected but not monitored.

Your favorite Google apps on the optimal learning platform

It’s no secret that Apple hardware like iPad is renowned for its ease of use, native security layer and groundbreaking accessibility features. It also retains its value and provide an overall lower TCO than alternatives. So the good news is that educators can reap the benefits of Apple’s engineering excellence without giving up the great Google products that they’ve come to rely on. Whether it’s identity management, security, classroom management, cloud storage, office tools or something else that you can’t imagine giving up, you won’t have to – it all runs like a dream with Apple. And with Jamf solutions, seamlessly merging and enhancing the capabilities of these two ecosystems couldn’t be easier or more effective.

Interested in enhancing your Google + Apple combo for K-12 education with one of our Jamf solutions?

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