Last updated August 12, 2021
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.
The following are examples of what’s possible under supervision:
For Apple’s current list of all supervised restrictions, please visit https://support.apple.com/guide/mdm/supervised-restrictions-mdm54960f92a/web
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.
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.
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.
More information on Apple automated enrollment/DEP is available here: Explained: The Apple Device Enrollment Program
To configure automated enrollment to supervise your new devices, complete the following steps from within SimpleMDM:
Once automated enrollment is configured, SimpleMDM automatically enables supervision on all devices enrolled from your Apple Business Manager account.