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What we learned at WWDC 2019

This was a year for the books. Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, or WWDC for short, had a banner year as thousands of developers gathered in San Jose to hear directly from Apple technical staff about what the roadmap holds for the rest of the year.

WWDC is always a thrilling experience and this year was no exception. There were many announcements — almost too many to cover in a single blog — but the short version is this: there has never been a better time to empower your users with the Apple devices they prefer to use for work.

There are so many ways to slice and dice all of the announcements from last week. From hardware to software, usability improvements to security changes, we could tackle this in a number of ways. Below, I’ll break it down by category and do my best to tie it all back to some of the strategic themes we’re seeing in the market.

Apple operating system upgrades

As expected, some of the biggest news to come out of WWDC was the reveal of new versions of macOS, iOS, tvOS and watchOS. It is an annual tradition at this point to see previews of the new features and functionality that will be included in the forthcoming fall release window.

What was unexpected — in the best way — was the announcement of iPadOS, a brand new operating system built on the foundation of iOS explicitly for iPad. For years, there have been reports of a supposed imminent merger between macOS and iOS, which Apple has denied time and again. Apple has consistently highlighted the unique use cases that the platforms serve, and therefore the unique value they continue to deliver to the market.

Furthermore, any idea iPad would become a Mac replacement was also put to bed with the announcement of iPadOS. It is clear that Apple has a strong vision for supporting and growing all their platforms, including iPadOS. The unique need for and experience of using an iPad as a daily driver isn’t going away and neither is the unique value of iPad.

As far as existing operating systems go, macOS Catalina shows that once again Apple’s industry-leading desktop OS is further embracing a vision that balances security and user-centric workflows. Project Catalyst opens new paths for application developers to save time and serve more people by easily building Mac apps based on existing iPad apps. Activation Lock is also coming to the Mac, a huge step that will undoubtedly be valuable in enterprise environments as admins seek to better and more securely manage their fleets. Activation Lock for Mac is supported on all Mac computers running a T2 chip.

Specifically on the macOS side, Supervision is coming to Mac. Some restrictions will require Supervision. Look for this within Apple Business Manager and Apple School Manager soon.

iOS 13 is going to be a fan favorite as it rolls out Dark Mode, a popular and useful feature that makes it easier to browse content away from bright lights, while tvOS 13 is bringing multi-user support to Apple TV, a device that continues to see strong adoption in healthcare and hospitality to power specific use cases. Jamf has been at the forefront of using Apple TV as a gateway to world-class client experience.

Apple device enrollment

Speeding up the time to provision a new-in-box Apple device is one of the biggest reasons organizations choose to adopt Jamf. Moving from a manual provisioning process to an automated zero-touch workflow is one of the most significant quality-of-life improvements most organizations can make.

With that in mind, it is important that we understand how Apple is evolving their provisioning story with new terminology and workflows coming this fall. These changes impact three key workflows: the Device Enrollment Program, user-initiated enrollment and bring your own device (BYOD).

  • The Device Enrollment Program (DEP), now part of Apple Business Manager and Apple School Manager, is formally ending in December. As we near that sunset date, we’re expecting to see a transition away from DEP to the new Automated Device Enrollment language in its place. If you are currently using DEP, you’ll want to make sure your organization migrates to Apple Business Manager or Apple School Manager before then.
  • What is currently called user-initiated enrollment (UIE) is undergoing a similar transition and is now called Device Enrollment. Supervision is now required on organizationally-owned devices.
  • Finally, BYOD is revamped and now called User Enrollment. This is a new term that signals some very significant architectural changes that directly benefit anyone using personal devices to access work information. The biggest change is how Apple is formally limiting what an organization can see and do on a device that is enrolled via User Enrollment. Mobile device management (MDM) administrators are now prevented from wiping those devices and seeing detailed personal data. Jamf is ahead of the market on this one and proactively limited our own platform’s ability to see that information and execute those commands on BYOD devices a while back.

Security and identity

From the perspective of businesses and education institutions, the User Enrollment story was significant and stood out among last week’s announcements. To power that story, Managed Apple IDs allow to have two Apple IDs operating on one device. Within the context of the User Enrollment story, this is critical because it is another step Apple takes to build wide moats between personal and work data.

While a device is using a Managed Apple ID and enrolled via User Enrollment, work apps and information (like contacts) are kept completely distinct from personal apps and data. This protects the user’s privacy while using their personal device at work and makes it easy to remove work apps and data in the event that the device is unenrolled. Furthermore, Apple made it clear that managed account data is encrypted while present and destroyed — along with the crypto keys — upon unenrollment. This should put at ease any user considering bringing a personal device into the workplace.

More Apple and Jamf news to come!

I have covered a few high-level topics here but this is just the beginning. As our product and engineering teams continue to crunch through the WWDC news, we’ll have much more technical information regarding new MDM functionality for macOS, iOS, iPadOS and tvOS in the near future.

This is far from a comprehensive list and there are definitely other bits of news that are worth reviewing, like education organizations gaining access to the Custom App Store! In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team with any questions about managing the latest hardware and software from Apple today and this fall. Enjoy!