Apple Configurator Released for Managing iOS Devices

Apple released Apple Configurator this week, a new tool designed to allow corporate and enterprise IT departments to manage fleets of Apple devices. Enterprise IT staff have bemoaned the lack of better tools to manage fleets of iOS devices, and some recent government migrations to the iPhone and iPad have made it clear that a better solution was needed for managing these devices en masse—Apple Configurator is intended to meet that need.

Apple Configurator
Preparing iOS Devices with Apple Configurator

The new app makes it easy for the mass configuration and deployment of iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches in schools, businesses, and institutions. Apple Configurator updates 30 devices at a time to the latest version of iOS, configures settings to maintain a standard configuration, and installs apps and data onto the devices.

In addition, Apple Configurator can be used to enroll each device with a Mobile Device Management solution, enabling remote management by IT administrators and support personnel.

Apple Configurator
Configuring Settings and Apps in Apple Configurator

Apple Configurator allows the user to create and administer multiple “sets” of iOS devices, allowing custom configurations for each set. Preparing and maintaining iOS devices requires they be plugged into a dock connector to USB adapter, but Apple notes that connecting many devices via a high-speed USB hub will work just fine. Apple did point out that while there is no practical limit to the number of devices that can be configured with Configurator, there is a limit of thirty (30) devices that can be connected and managed via USB at any one time.

The app integrates with Open Directory and Active Directory to assign iOS devices to specific users, and allows the administrator to set standard configuration settings, approved policies, parental controls, and device personalization (including setting a user’s picture on their Lock screen.)

Apple Configurator
Assigning iOS Devices to Users is Easy in Apple Configurator

Apple Configurator is available for OS X 10.7.2 or later as a free download from the Mac App Store. The app is meant to replace the earlier iPhone Configuration Utility, which was difficult to use and not as feature-rich as Apple Configurator.

[Update March 19, 2012: This article was updated with clarification on the number of iOS devices that can be managed with this utility, as noted in body. - Editor]