iOS Supervised vs Unsupervised: Benefits of Supervising iOS Devices

Supervised vs Unsupervised
Supervised vs Unsupervised

Apple’s devices are preferred by organizations as well as employees because of their easy-to-use and the high-performing operating system as well as the beautiful user experience they offer. But what follows is the crucial task to manage these company-owned Apple devices. It is important to channelize the device use for business-specific operations, to increase productivity and safeguard company data simultaneously to cut down the unnecessary data costs.

To implement a successful MDM strategy for Apple devices, it is extremely important for the IT admins to have total control over the company-owned Apple devices.

Say hello to Supervision!

To gain full control and to allow your MDM tool to function at its optimum best, it is necessary to ‘supervise’ the Apple devices like iPhones and iPads. iOS supervision is available for devices having iOS 5 and above.  

What is iOS supervision? Why is it necessary?

Supervision is that differentiating element for iOS that helps the IT admin to understand whom to provide total control and ownership of the devices. Once the device is in supervised mode, it is ready to be enrolled in any desired iOS MDM solution.

iOS supervision gives companies control over company-owned devices, which is a prerequisite to manage them further. Without supervision, functionalities like Factory Reset, Airdrop Sharing, iBooks, Find my iPhone and iMessage cannot be managed within an Apple device. Other important settings like Bluetooth and GPS for example, can be overridden by the end-user.

In simple words, this means that the admins cannot enforce company policies on unsupervised iPhones. An admin can opt for an intuitive MDM tool and push policies and restrictions on iPhones and iPads, but the end-user will continue to have the option to exit, override or even totally erase the policies.

Imagine this happening to a company-owned Apple device wherein the company data will be under continuous threat because it can be shared or manipulated openly by the device user. A user can perform factory-reset on an unsupervised device, which can further be used for personal purposes.

Hence, it is tremendously vital to opt for iOS supervision on company-owned Apple devices.

There are two methods of supervising iOS devices:

What are the benefits of iOS supervision?

iOS supervision unleashes the core capabilities of a Mobile Device Management solution for an Apple device. Without iOS supervision, the device can be only partially managed, making the device vulnerable to all possible threats including data breach and device theft.

The top benefits of iOS Supervision include:

  • The device can be enrolled into an MDM solution before handing it over to the end-user
  • Factory Reset Protection can be enforced
  • Business-specific applications can be pre-loaded or can be silently pushed on the devices
  • Home screen layout can be configured to align with the company branding
  • iOS updates can be pushed remotely, ensuring smooth functioning of devices and apps
  • Granular-level settings of the devices can be controlled and customized

Essentially, iOS supervision is the best way to start managing Apple devices. Driven for business-use, these devices can then be further configured with an MDM solution.

Supervised vs Unsupervised Devices

It is important to note that ‘Supervision’ and ‘Enrollment’ are two different operations performed on an Apple device. iPhones and iPads can be enrolled in an MDM solution without supervision as well. As stated above, supervision plays together with an MDM solution to manage a device. Unsupervised devices can be managed, but only to a certain extent. For companies that want to apply policies on devices, supervision is the best way to go about it.

Here’s a simple table explaining the comparison between supervised and unsupervised devices:

Supervised DevicesUnsupervised Devices
Devices can be protected against Factory ResetDevices can be Factory Reset anytime
Airdrop can be restrictedAirdrop cannot be restricted
Individual Apple iDs not needed for enrollmentEach device needs an Apple iD for enrollment
Unenrollment from MDM is not possibleUnenrollment from MDM is possible
Silent App installation is possibleApp installation requires user confirmation
Web content can be filteredWeb content cannot be filtered
App notifications can be controlledApp notifications cannot be filtered
The device can be run in Kiosk modeThe device cannot be run in Kiosk mode
TouchID can be restrictedTouchID cannot be restricted
iMessage can be restrictediMessage cannot be restricted
Screentime can be restrictedScreentime cannot be restricted
Homescreen wallpaper and lock screen message can be configured by AdminUser can customize Homescreen wallpaper and lock screen message
Global HTTP Proxy can be configuredGlobal HTTP Proxy cannot be configured
Game Center Access can be controlledGame Center Access cannot be controlled

A supervised iOS device coupled with a strong MDM can safeguard your enterprise mobility. Supervise your company-owned iPhones and iPads and enroll them to Scalefusion MDM – a full-blown MDM solution that helps you manage devices, enforce company policies and protect data while increasing employee productivity.


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Renuka Shahane is a Sr. Content Writer at Scalefusion. An engineering graduate, an Apple junkie and an avid reader, she has a 5+ years of experience in content creation, content strategy and PR for technology and web based startups.


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Thousands of businesses rely upon Scalefusion for managing their mobile device, desktops & laptops and other endpoints