Device-based VPP app assignment

This one is big news for education … One of the many announcements out of WWDC centers around VPP. For schools, VPP allows educational institutions to purchase licenses of applications for iOS and OS X based applications in the App Store. This works on one of two premises.

The first method, the VPP code treats applications as consumables and once the code is redeemed the ownership is associated with the Apple ID. For some, this is perfectly fine and schools in essence “gift” the app to the student. Schools using this method may charge fees to recoup the app cost. The downside to this is there is a lot of purchasing required.

A second route, Managed Distribution allows the school to purchase licenses for applications and those get assigned to users based on Apple IDs. What is great about this is the school always retains ownership of the license. If your school has any program where they assign a text book to a student or in reading units rotate a class-set of books around you are already familiar with this approach.

Both of these methods require an Apple ID. Either a personal Apple ID linked via Managed Distribution to your Institutional VPP account, or an Apple ID specific for your organization. Apple even has the Apple ID for Students program to help schools with creating Apple IDs.

From the WWDC session video “What’s new in Managing Apple Devices” a change is coming to the Managed Distribution model so Apple IDs for user accounts will no longer be needed to assign applications via VPP. This is huge for those using iPads in a shared environment or schools. Many schools I talk with have been frustrated by the extra steps required to get mobile devices into the hands of their students and say the Apple ID is a huge headache. Some schools do the time-consuming task of creating Apple IDs for their students. Others use generic Apple IDs and lose the benefit of individualized backups. There are countless other ways people have tacked the program. The preferred method from Apple is to have students over 13 legally create an Apple ID (or use an existing one) or for those under 13, use the Apple ID for Students program to have the school create an ID on behalf of the student with parental consent.


If you use iPads in a shared environment, one where you don’t have a specific owner to an iPad, you will see a huge time saver with this new change. What you may have been doing right now is creating an Apple ID for the shared device(s) in some way without an associated credit card. And choosing security questions. And validating. And signing in. And keeping track of the Apple ID and password. And … the list goes on. Shared devices where you don’t have an individualized experience since multiple students use the device in the day really just need a specific set of applications and an Internet connection. With being able to assign apps to the device without a user Apple ID being on the device will be a welcome change. The time required to get a device out of a box and into the hands of a student will be sped up.

If you have a 1:1 you can achieve the same gains and I think the greatest benefit for this comes during the initial deployment of devices. Just think – you can have devices ready to go with apps without requiring a user to be using the device. However, I would still strongly encourage an Apple ID associated with an actual person to be on the device. This is going to allow for cloud-based services to work much better, give users control to Find my iPhone and allow for device backups.

I know some are going to jump on this idea and never think about Apple IDs for users again and there are going to be use-cases where this is a great fit. But before you go and say your organization no longer needs Apple IDs on a device, sign out of your Apple ID on your device for a week and see how it goes.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

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