Last updated May 9, 2019
Supervision was introduced by Apple in iOS 5 as a special mode that gives a SimpleMDM administrator more control of a device than is typically permitted. Supervised mode is intended to be used on devices that are institutionally-owned. Whereas many companies use SimpleMDM to control devices owned by employees in a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) fashion, some companies own the devices themselves and necessitate control of the device which would otherwise be considered overbearing.
As of iOS 9.3, the following features are made available when a device is placed under supervision:
Additionally, you can block/disallow:
There are two ways that a device can be placed in supervision. The best method to use depends upon your deployment.
Note: Placing a device in supervision will result in the device being completely reset. All data and settings will be deleted. If you restore the data after switching to supervised mode, the device will reset to the mode (supervised or unsupervised) that the device was in during the backup. Apple does this presumably 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 that is to be supervised will need to be connected to the computer. This is a good method if you have just a few devices to supervise, or, you can’t use the other method for some reason.
Apple has a program called the Device Enrollment Program (DEP) which is used to bootstrap brand new devices with a working configuration. For instance, DEP can be used to automatically enroll devices in SimpleMDM when they are first unboxed and turned on. It can also be used to 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 DEP is available here: Explained: The Apple Device Enrollment Program
To configure DEP to supervise your new devices, complete the following steps from within SimpleMDM:
SimpleMDM will automatically update your DEP account so that all future devices are set to be supervised. Simply turn on any devices registered in your DEP account. During boot, they will communicate with Apple DEP and switch to supervised automatically.