What is Supervision?
Supervision, introduced by Apple in iOS 5, is a special mode that gives an administrator more control of a device. It is intended for institutionally-owned devices. iOS supervised mode now extends to iPadOS and tvOS, but for simplicity in this article, we use iOS broadly.
While SimpleMDM historically controlled devices owned by employees in a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) fashion, companies now frequently own the devices themselves. This introduces new opportunities for controlling the device with SimpleMDM that previously would have been overbearing for an employee-owned device.
What does Supervision allow for?
The following are examples of what’s possible under supervision:
Restrict access to apps
Filter web content
Configure home screen layouts
App lock (Single App Mode)
Activation lock bypass
Silent app installations
Enable Lost Mode
Push remote OS updates
Enable additional restrictions
For Apple’s current list of all supervised restrictions, please visit https://support.apple.com/guide/mdm/supervised-restrictions-mdm54960f92a/web
How to activate Supervised Mode for iOS
The device enters supervision in two ways. The best method depends upon your deployment.
Note: Placing a device in supervision resets the device. All data and settings delete. If you restore data after switching to supervised mode, the device will reset to the mode (supervised or unsupervised) used during backup. Presumably, Apple does this to prevent companies from supervising employee-owned devices.
Supervise a Device with Apple Configurator
Apple Configurator is a macOS application. To supervise a device with Apple Configurator, you must have a macOS computer and USB cable available. Each device needs to connect to the computer. For a few devices, this is a good method.
Download the latest version of Apple Configurator. We used Apple Configurator 2.2 in this guide. https://apps.apple.com/us/app/apple-configurator-2/id1037126344
Attach your iOS device to the computer using the USB cable
Start Apple Configurator
In the “All devices” view, click the iOS device
Select “Manual” from the “Configuration” dropdown
On the “Enroll in MDM Server” screen, optionally define an MDM server using your SimpleMDM enrollment URL
On the “Supervise Devices” screen, ensure “Supervise devices” is checked
Add the details of your company on the following screen if desired
Generate a supervision identity when prompted (if you haven’t already)
Click the “Prepare” button once you reach the end of the dialog boxes
The device will prepare and reset
Supervise Devices using Automated Enrollment with Apple Business Manager (formerly Apple Device Enrollment Program)
Automated enrollment with Apple Business Manager is used to bootstrap new devices with a working configuration. For instance, automated enrollment can be used to automatically enroll devices in SimpleMDM when they are first unboxed and turned on. It can also place devices in Supervision mode automatically. This process is the way to go if your organization has a non-trivial number of devices that need to be placed under supervision.
To configure automated enrollment to supervise your new devices, complete the following steps from within SimpleMDM:
Click “Enrollments” under the Devices heading
Under the “Create Enrollment” dropdown, select “Automated Enrollment (DEP)”
If you haven’t already, follow the instructions to pair SimpleMDM with your Apple Business Manager account
Once paired, make sure “Place device in Supervised mode” is checked and click “Save”
Associate your devices with the connected server in Apple Business Manager
Activate your devices and connect them to the internet to complete enrollment
Once automated enrollment is configured, SimpleMDM automatically enables supervision on all devices enrolled from your Apple Business Manager account.
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.