iPad Configuration Utility And Configuration Profiles

If you have an iPad or more than one iPad and you need to use them in your place of business then you will probably want to consider using the iPad configuration utility.  This is a series of XML files that contain common configuration information that each iPad gets and uses to work within your business.

The iPad Configuration Utility

As stated above the iPad configuration utility is very handy to know how to use if you are going to be using several iPads for business and want to have all their settings be the same.  That is exactly what this utility does.  It makes it possible to have a very consistent and easy to manage set of parameters that all your iPads will have.  Liken this to having to remember all of the settings and then configure each new iPad with those settings.  That’s a huge waste of time and unnecessary.

Basically, the configuration utility manages what are called configuration profiles and these are XML files that contain configuration information and settings that permit iPads to work with all your business systems.

If you go looking for this utility, however, you won’t find it by the name “iPad” configuration utility.  Instead, it’s called the iPhone Configuration Utility 2.2 (current version) and it lets you easily create, encrypt, and install configuration profiles.  Additionally the iPhone Configuration Utility (we will call it the iPad configuration utility) lets you do the following:

  • Track and install provisioning profiles and authorized applications
  • Capture device information, including console logs

This great little utility is available for both Mac and Windows.

Download the Mac iPhone Configuration Utility here

Download the Windows iPhone Configuration Utility here

Configuration Profile Components

Here are the components you can configure using the iPad Configuration Utility.  This, when all set, will then apply to all iPads.

  • Passcode Policies. Protect your business by configuring device passcode policies and requiring their use
  • Restrictions. These can be used to restrict certain device features
  • Wi-Fi Settings. Set all your WiFi settings whether its connecting to private networks or for RADIUS authentication
  • VPN Settings. Configure VPN setting including accounts, proxies, and authentication settings
  • Email Settings. Configure IMAP or POP mail settings
  • Exchange Settings. Include server, domain, and account information and it will be easier for users to use Exchange ActiveSync to connect
  • LDAP. Configure access to LDAP directories for contact lookup in Mail and Address Book
  • CalDAV. Provide these settings to sync calendar data with a CalDAV server wirelessly
  • Web Clips. Place icons right on the iPad home screen to provide quick access to internal or external websites
  • Credentials. Ensure the identity of your users and control access to key enterprise services such as ActiveSync, VPN, and WPA2 Enterprise Wi-Fi networks on the iPad
  • Advanced. Edit these settings to modify the access point name (APN) on the iPad.  APN proxy settings can be specified as well

Managing iPad Configuration Profiles

You can secure your configuration profiles in a number of ways.  The reason for this is so that it does not get lost or stolen.  The file that is created when you export it from the iPhone Configuration Utility has a .mobileconfig extension.  And this file can be created with three different levels of security. You can use unsigned, signed, or signed and encrypted.  The signed and encrypted is the most secure but also the most restrictive.

Additionally you can control the removal of profiles.  If you do not want users removing the configuration profiles then you can lock the profiles to that once it has been installed, its removal requires an administrative password or a full reset of the iPad.

Deploying The iPad Configuration Profiles

There are four ways to that the iPad configuration profiles can be deployed.

Desktop Installation via USB

Configuration profiles can be installed through a USB connection with the iPhone Configuration Utility. When you install directly onto a device using USB, the configuration profile is automatically signed and encrypted.

  1. Connect the device to your computer using a USB cable.
  2. Select the iPad from the Devices list, and then click the Configuration Profiles tab.
  3. Select a configuration profile from the list, and then click Install.
  4. On the device, tap Install to install the profile.

Using Email

You can distribute configuration profiles using email. Users install the profile by receiving the message on their devices, then tapping the attachment to install it.

  1. Export the profile from the iPhone Configuration Utility.
  2. Attach the configuration profile (uncompressed) to an email and send to user(s).
  3. Users install the profile by tapping the file directly from the message body in Mail on iPad.

Using A Website

You can distribute configuration profiles using a website. Users install the profile by downloading it using Safari on their devices.

  1. Export the profile from the iPhone Configuration Utility.
  2. Host the configuration profile (uncompressed) on a secure site that’s accessible to user(s).
  3. Users navigate to the website using Safari on iPad and tap the file to initiate installation.

Over The Air

You can distribute encrypted configuration profiles over the air using a secure enrollment and configuration process enabled by the Simple Certificate Enrollment Protocol (SCEP).

We will be covering this method in another article as it’s far more advanced and requires a deeper technical discussion.

That is the iPad Configuration Utility (iPhone Configuration Utility), where to download it, what it controls and the methods you can use to deploy your configuration profiles.  Remember that the main reason to do this is to provide yourself with a huge amount of time saving while also providing a very consistent set of parameters on several iPads.

Comments

  1. ha14 says:

    huge amount of time saving, thanks for the detailed review

  2. ITM says:

    I have followed the instructions, but not able to work for my iPad. Is there any pre-requistie?

    Using USB, when I click ‘Install’, nothing happen

    When using email, double-click on the configuration file, nothing happen.

    Thanks

  3. GirlGeekinFL says:

    Thank you so much! A most helpful tool for maintaining the 20 iPads we use for trade show order entry. Now I am able to stop our Sales Reps from playing with the camera and such and actually doing their jobs :)

  4. nzd31155 says:

    Is there a way to specify which apps are loaded onto the ipads through the configuration profile? If not, can this be done another way?

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