If your school uses iPads you know the nightmare of managing Apple IDs. Students with their own iPads need a personal Apple ID, and if they’re under 13 years they also need parental consent. And if you’re using shared iPads you’re probably so familiar with the Apple ID sign up page that you could recite the EULA from memory.
Unlike Google Apps, there’s no way to create Apple IDs in bulk meaning each one has to be created and managed individually. The leads to massive admin overhead for technicians, and gives no way to centrally manage your student’s accounts.
But there is hope!
In a leaked email, purportedly sent to Apple’s education partners, outlines the company’s plans for the coming 12 months. In it Apple states that from later this year schools will be able to distribute iPad apps and books without an Apple ID. If Apple makes good on this promise it will hugely streamline the way schools using shared iPads push out content to their devices.
There is also talk of a shake up of the way apps in general are distributed in schools and suggests that Apple may be beginning to loosen its stranglehold on school iPads.
You can view the complete letter on 9to5mac.com, but the important part is below:
To simplify large deployments, including one-to-one and shared use, we want to make app distribution even easier. Today, Apple IDs are required in order to deliver apps and books to students. We are working to change this in the fall by allowing schools to assign and distribute apps to a device without an Apple ID. As currently planned, this will greatly reduce the number of steps needed to setup a device. This change should eliminate the need to create generic Apple IDs solely for the purposes of getting content onto iPad. Schools will also have the option to prevent students from making personal purchases without approval.
Not only that, but from 2016 schools won’t have to jump through as many hoops to set up Apple IDs for students under 13. The email claims that the hassle in getting parental consent will be made removed, although few details given. It’s surely no coincidence that Chromebooks outsold iPads in education for the first time last year, a big reason for which is the simple but powerful management options provided in Google Apps.
While these changes are a welcome step forward, Apple could still do with significantly beefing up its iPad management processes in general. If you’re looking into Apple devices for your school it’s worth researching whether you can fully support iPads within your current set up.