One short sentence in the help documents for the new Apple Configurator tool shows that the company is aware that many workers are bringing their personal devices into the office. More noteworthy is the fact that it shows that Apple is thinking about some of the potential privacy issues that can arise in situations like BYOD programs where a personal iPhone or iPad is managed by a company’s IT department.
The sentence in question is in the section on supervised or managed devices. It reads as follows:
Important: When a device is initially supervised during the Prepare process, it’s wiped of all content and settings. This prevents a person’s personal device from being supervised without their knowledge.
This is the only time in Configurator’s help documents where there’s a reference to a user’s personal device.
Given Configurator’s requirement that iOS devices be physically connected to the Mac it’s running on by USB, I think it would be unlikely that a user would be unaware that their device had become managed by an IT staffer – they’d have to hand it over to someone for the device to be enrolled. I also don’t feel that Configurator is a good tool for a BYOD model because it seems to be oriented around managing a pool of iOS devices that are business-owned and shared.
That said, I do like the fact that Apple recognized that user privacy on personally-owned hardware should be protected. Privacy is a big issue that IT departments and users should be aware of when moving to BYOD models and Apple clearly agrees with that. Considering how much personal data we store on our iOS devices, having a line between personal and work use is important (and it’s the basis of products like Good and Bitzer, which focus on carving out a secure business niche on personal iOS devices rather than on whole-device restrictions).
Of course, Apple’s solution of wiping the device as part of the initial Configurator setup process seems like it might overkill in addressing the privacy point, but at least Apple is thinking about real-world needs in the ways that its customers are using its products.