Disable Single App Mode on devices without internet

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SimpleMDM|December 1, 2016
General IT Article 2 Background
General IT Article 2 Background

Is your device stuck in single app mode? Read this article to learn how to get out of and disable single app mode.

Single app mode (SAM), also known as "single app lock," forces an iOS device only to display a single app and prevents a user from exiting it. Single app mode is popular when an iPad or iPhone is displayed and acts as a digital kiosk. It is also commonly used when a device is intended for one use only, like a cash register.

Note: A different but similar mode called "Guided access" is often confused with single app mode. Guided Access is a feature that is configured on the device itself. Single app mode is configured instead through SimpleMDM.

Using SimpleMDM, devices can be configured for single app lock wirelessly. This allows an administrator to place multiple devices in single app mode from the SimpleMDM web admin interface. The administrator can also disable single app mode from the web interface.

Problems arise when devices lose internet. A device will stay in single app lock without internet; however, the administrator cannot disable single app mode from within SimpleMDM. Without internet, the device cannot receive the command to disable single app lock.

There are two other options if it is impossible to regain the device's internet connection. Follow either of these processes to disable single app mode.

Regain internet and disable SAM via MDM

macOS can optionally share its internet connection using a USB connection. For a device that has lost internet due to a WIFI change, providing internet via USB will allow it to regain contact with the MDM for further configuration.

Take the following steps to enable internet sharing on the iOS device.

  1. Connect the iOS device to your macOS device via USB.

  2. On a macOS device, go to System Preferences and select "Sharing".

  3. Select the "Internet Sharing" service and configure your device to share its internet connection via USB.

  4. Enable the Internet Sharing service.

  5. Once the device has internet, you may disable SAM from the MDM or add additional WIFI configurations so that the device has wireless internet access again.

Alternatively, dongle devices support connecting ethernet directly to an iOS device.

Unenroll and remove SAM using Apple Configurator

This option removes the MDM enrollment from the device and, in doing so, removes the single app lock configuration. This is more of a "nuke" option than anything and is less preferable than the method mentioned above, as the device will need to be re-enrolled with MDM, possibly using DEP, which requires wiping the device.

  1. Install Apple Configurator to a macOS system.

  2. Connect the iOS device to the computer using a lighting USB connector.

  3. Open the Apple Configurator application on macOS.

  4. A window will appear, and your device should be shown. Control-Click on the device, select “Remove," and then "Profiles."

  5. Select the profile named "SimpleMDM" and delete it.

This will remove the SimpleMDM enrollment from the device and exit single app mode.

Disable Single App Mode on your iPhone Without Internet configurator dashboard

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SimpleMDM is a mobile device management solution that helps IT teams securely update, monitor, and license Apple devices in a matter of minutes — all while staying on top of Apple updates automatically.

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