Last updated November 15, 2019
The integration of Apple TVs into non-consumer environments has grown considerably in recent years, serving varying roles across many industries. Common use-cases include conference room displays, learning tools in school environments, wall-mounted dashboards for corporate environments, and much more. As a result, the need to manage Apple TVs remotely with an MDM has increased similarly. Recent Apple tvOS updates have included support for significantly more remote management capabilities.
The enrollment process for tvOS, which runs on Apple TV, is slightly different than for iOS. In this article, we will discuss the different ways that Apple TVs can be enrolled in SimpleMDM, including the following methods:
Apple Configurator is a free app available in the Mac App Store so it will require the use of a Mac computer. This method is recommended if you do not have access to an Apple DEP account but still want to enable Supervised mode. The steps that take place within Apple Configurator are similar to the process for preparing and enrolling iOS devices.
The first step is to connect your Apple TV to the internet via an ethernet cable and ensure that it is on the same LAN as your Mac computer.
Next, pair the Apple TV with your Mac via Apple Configurator. If the device has not yet been setup, turn it on and pause on the ‘Pair Your Remote’ screen. If it has already been setup, go to Settings > Remotes and Devices > Remote App and Devices.
Open Apple Configurator on your Mac. At the top of your screen, click the ‘Apple Configurator 2’ menu option and select ‘Paired Devices’ – the Apple TV should appear. Select the Apple TV and click “Pair”. A 6-digit code should appear on the Apple TV screen and you should see a prompt on your Mac – enter the 6-digit code here.
After pairing the devices successfully, the Apple TV should now be shown in Apple Configurator; select the Apple TV and click the “Prepare” button. On first “Prepare” screen in Configurator, we advise checking the boxes labeled “Supervise devices” and “Allow devices to pair with other computers”.
Do not check the “Add to Device Enrollment Program” box unless you want to enroll devices with Apple DEP / Business Manager – the steps for this will be covered later in this article. Click “Next” when you are done.
At this point, login to SimpleMDM and copy an existing group enrollment URL or generate a new enrollment URL and copy it. On the “Define an MDM server” screen in Apple Configurator, select “New Server”, enter a name, and paste the SimpleMDM enrollment URL into the “Host name or URL” field. Alternatively, you can select an existing server if you have already configured one for SimpleMDM.
On the next screen, select “*.simplemdm.com” and click “Next”. Enter your organization information as needed on the “Assign to Organization” page.
The following screen labeled “Configure tvOS Setup Assistant” allows you to select which setup options you want to show / skip during the initial device setup process. Configure these as desired and continue by clicking “Prepare”.
If the initial enrollment process in Apple Configurator was successful, a screen will be shown on the Apple TV asking if you want to apply the configuration. Accept this prompt to complete the enrollment and proceed with the setup.
DEP enrollment provides the most functionality and automation of all the enrollment methods. You can read more about Apple DEP and its benefits here: Explained: The Apple Device Enrollment Program (Apple DEP)
This walkthrough assumes that your devices have already been registered in Apple DEP / Business Manager and that DEP / Business Manager is connected to SimpleMDM.
First, in Apple DEP, assign the device to the server that you have connected to SimpleMDM. Then, in SimpleMDM, go to Settings > DEP and click ‘Sync with Apple’. To confirm the assignment and sync was successful, click the server name on the DEP Accounts page, click the ‘DEP Devices’ tab, and then verify the device’s serial number is appearing.
Once that is confirmed, connect Apple TV to the internet via ethernet and activate it. Within the initial Setup Assistant screens, select ‘Apply’ when prompted to apply the configuration to complete the enrollment. Then proceed through any remaining setup screens.
Apple Configurator also allows you to add devices to Apple DEP while enrolling them in MDM using Apple Configurator. The process is similar to the ‘Enrollment with Apple Configurator’ instructions mentioned earlier in this article, with a few additional steps.
On the “Prepare Devices” screen shown immediately after clicking ‘Prepare’, check the boxes labeled “Add to Device Enrollment Program” and “Activate and complete enrollment”.
After clicking “Next”, you will be prompted to sign in to the Apple Device Enrollment Program – enter your Apple DEP / Business Manager credentials here. Proceed through the remaining screens in Apple Configurator as needed, similar to what was discussed early in this article.
If you are using LDAP authentication for DEP enrollment, the screen shown in Apple Configurator prior to completing the preparation that will allow you to enter your authentication credentials. If you are not using LDAP, you can ignore this and click “Prepare”.
During enrollment with Apple Configurator, you may be shown a warning prompt with a message similar to “this device has already been prepared”. To erase the device and complete the enrollment process, click “Erase”.
In our testing, we found that it was helpful to wait a few moments on the “Pair Your Remote” screen before attempting to pair an Apple TV with a Mac/Apple Configurator. We also noticed that it was best to avoid using the Apple TV remote after activating the Apple TV but prior to pairing the devices.