Last updated June 29, 2020
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 to only display a single app and prevents a user from exiting it. Single app mode is popular in situations where an iPad or iPhone is on display and is acting as a digital kiosk. It is also commonly used in situations where 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 is also able to disable single app mode from the web interface, if needed.
Problems arise when devices lose internet. A device will stay in single app lock without internet, however the administrator will not be able to disable single app mode from within SimpleMDM. Without internet, the device cannot receive the command to disable single app lock.
If it is not possible to regain an internet connection the device, there are luckily two other options. Follow either of these processes to disable single app mode.
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 to the iOS device.
Alternatively, dongle devices exist that support connecting ethernet directly to an iOS device.
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.
This will remove the SimpleMDM enrollment from the device and exit single app mode as a result.