In the past few weeks, 9to5Mac has broken several stories related to iOS 14 and iPadOS 14. The one that intrigued me the most was the OS Recovery feature. As an iOS IT administrator, this feature will solve many problems in K–12. Here’s why I am excited about the upcoming OS recovery in K-12.
About Making The Grade: Every Saturday, Bradley Chambers publishes a new article about Apple in education. He has been managing Apple devices in an education environment since 2009. Through his experience deploying and managing 100s of Macs and 100s of iPads, Bradley will highlight ways in which Apple’s products work at scale, stories from the trenches of IT management, and ways Apple could improve its products for students.
When Apple unveiled iOS setup without a Mac in iOS 5, it began the first step towards a future where you could live without a Mac. While I expect the Mac to remain a crucial part of my computing life for the foreseeable future, I know as an iOS administrator, a world where you didn’t use a Mac to restore an iPhone or an iPad will save a lot of time. To get up to speed on what we expect from this feature, watch this video.
So what does OS recovery for K–12 mean for IT administrators? A key stat I’ve always looked at with classroom devices is device recovery time. Right now, for iPad, device recovery requires an iPad to be brought by a student or teacher to the IT team, plugged up to a Mac, restore iOS, confirm mobile device management enrollment, and restore from iCloud. This process can take a few hours if the IT department is busy working with other students or employees.
With an OS recovery tool built into iOS, students and teachers could manage this entire process on their own. Let’s say an iOS update goes wrong, and they are left without a working copy of iOS. With OS Recovery, they would be able to restore their device on their own, MDM installation would be automatic through Apple School Manager, and then they would go through an iCloud restore.
Once iCloud was restored, all of the MDM profiles would reappear, and the apps from Apple School Manager would also reinstall automatically. All of this would be done without the help of a single person in IT. For organizations looking to build iOS deployments at scale, an IT-free OS recovery would simplify everyone’s life.
Wrap-up on OS recovery in K–12
Will Apple ship OS recovery for iPadOS 14 and iOS 14? It certainly appears that it’s being worked on, but as with any feature in development, it could be delayed for a future release. Even if it doesn’t ship this fall, it appears that it’s coming soon. As someone who manages a few hundred devices, OS Recovery in K-12 is going to be a much-needed feature.