Update Volume-Purchased, Single App Mode iOS Apps

December 11, 2018

If you follow this blog regularly, you are already aware that iOS 11.2 enabled seamless updates for Enterprise Apps locked with the App Lock payload, for example, Single App Mode (SAM), without first removing the payload. I was recently testing with both iOS 12.0.1 and iOS 12.1. During my testing, I noticed that this functionality is now working for volume-purchased apps! Many admins with iOS devices running in a kiosk or single-use scenario (such as Meeting Room Control, Point-of-Sale, Digital Signage, and so on) are encouraged to start testing this for their own use.

How Can I Quickly Test This?

You can witness the volume-purchase app updates in all their glory by performing the following flow in a testing organization group and/or environment:

  1. Ensure you have the Volume Purchase Program or Apple Business Manager configured in the Organization Group where you will enroll your testing device.
  2. Ensure you have purchased managed distribution licenses for an app which is regularly updated. In my testing, I used the Facebook app because it is updated on a fairly consistent basis.  
  3. Deploy the app to the device with Device-based licensing and deactivate Auto-Update for the application within the Workspace ONE UEM console.
  4. Send the device a profile containing an app lock (Single App Mode) payload for the application’s identifier and verify the device is locked into that application (for example, you cannot exit the app, the buttons are locked, and so on).   
  5. Within the Workspace ONE UEM console, monitor for the Purchased application to show Update Available. When the update is available, select the Purchased app and click the Update App button to initiate updates.
  6. Observe the device closing the app and performing the update while the device remains locked from user interaction.

Important Reminders

As you go through this process, keep the following top-of-mind:

  1. Be Cognizant of Update Times! — If your Single-App-Mode app is providing digital signage or kiosk functionality, be sure to factor in the amount of time it takes to update the app. You must factor in your business hours, Internet connectivity speeds (and app size), and depending on your deployment size, the Install commands may be processed in batches.
  2. Leverage macOS Caching Services — Where possible (and especially when updating large numbers of devices), leverage macOS Caching Services to ensure the iOS devices download the update from a locally cached copy rather than all devices reaching out to the App Store.

Additional Resources

The following links provide more detail on App Deployments:

•    Content Types That macOS Server Caching and macOS Caching Support [Apple]
•    Manage Content Caching on Mac [Apple]
•    Managed Distribution by Device Serial Number [VMware]

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