Managing iOS Updates: Workspace ONE Operational Tutorial

Overview

VMware Workspace ONE® UEM includes functionality to manage operating system updates on managed, supervised iOS devices. The OS update management feature provides administrators a view of all available updates and allows for granular assignment of those updates across an organization’s devices. With OS update management, admins gain the ability to maintain security updates through regular patching while minimizing the impact on customer-facing devices.

The OS update management feature provides functionality that allows administrators to:

  • Block updates – Configure devices to not detect specific updates from Apple for up to 90 days.
  • List available updates – List all available updates from Apple and report which devices are eligible for those updates.
  • Publish iOS updates to devices – Define the action to be taken on devices for updates. Available actions include: download only, install only, or download and install immediately.
  • Monitor updates – Displays the status of OS updates on assigned devices.

Devices must meet the following minimum requirements prior to any update being initiated by iOS update management:

  • Supervised iOS 11.3 or later
  • Battery must be charged at least to 50 percent
  • Enough storage space available to download the update
  • Network access to Apple’s update servers

When managing iOS updates with Workspace ONE UEM, administrators can use the following chart as an approximation for expected behavior during an upgrade.

iOS 9 – 10.2.1

iOS 10.3 – 11.2.6

iOS 11.3 – iOS 12.x

iOS 13+

Requires Supervision

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Requires Automated Enrollment (DEP)

Yes

No

No

No

Device Password

Device cannot have a passcode.

User is prompted for device passcode upon receiving update command.

User is not prompted for device passcode if locked. iOS downloads update in background if locked.

User is prompted for device passcode prior to upgrade being performed.

Applicable Updates

Can only update device to the latest supported update.

Con only update device to the latest supported update.

Can update to any supported update that has not expired.

Can update to any supported update that has not expired.

Purpose of This Tutorial

This tutorial details how to effectively use the iOS update framework in Workspace ONE UEM to keep iOS devices up-to-date. The tutorial covers the following topics:

  • Provides an overview of the UI for managing iOS updates.
  • Addresses how Workspace ONE UEM handles conflicting updates for iOS.
  • Details the steps for assigning updates for iOS devices.
  • Explains additional management options for changing assignments and monitoring the status of an update on iOS devices.

Audience

This operational tutorial is intended for IT professionals and Workspace ONE UEM administrators of existing production environments.

Knowledge of additional technologies such as network, VPN configuration, VMware Workspace ONE® Intelligence and VMware Workspace ONE® UEM is also helpful.

OS updates are managed through the Device Updates user interface in Workspace ONE UEM. This section of the tutorial will provide a detailed explanation of the components of the interface and their function. You can use this whenever necessary as a reference.

Device Updates List View

The Available Device Updates List View can be found in the Workspace ONE UEM console by clicking Resources, then Device Updates, and selecting iOS. This section describes each column displayed.

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  1. Version - Indicates an iOS Update as discovered by the Workspace ONE UEM sync process with Apple’s product version lookup service.
  2. Release and Expiration Date - For each iOS update version, Workspace ONE displays the dates Apple made the update available to the public (for example, the Release Date). Workspace ONE also display's Apple's defined Expiration Date. 

    Note: The Expiration Date displays the date that the update's signature expires and devices will no longer trust the update to apply it. Apple can expire the update earlier than this date for security or other reasons.
  3. Update Status - The Update Status field denotes which iOS updates are Available or Not Available to deploy to devices.

    Note: If an update is marked as Not Available, it will not deploy to devices and Workspace ONE deactivates the ability to manage assignments for the update.
  4. Assignments - For each iOS update version, Workspace ONE displays how many assignments have been defined for that update. Assignments consist of one or more Smart Groups configured to begin receiving an update-related command after a specific date and time.

    Note: The Assignments number does not necessarily equate to the number of smart groups assigned to the update.
  5. Assignments Status – For each iOS update version, Workspace ONE displays whether that update has been Assigned to devices or Not Assigned. Additionally, if an administrator has paused an update, the update displays as Paused.

    Note: If an assignment is Paused, Workspace ONE discontinues bulk command operations against any current or pending assignments. Workspace ONE cannot cancel any commands which have already been delivered to assigned devices prior to pausing the update process.

Update Details View

The Update Details View provides Workspace ONE administrators with additional details about the specific iOS update and its deployment status across the device fleet. To access the Update Details View, select an individual iOS update in the Available Device Updates View.

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  1. Manage Assignments - This button launches the Manage Assignments view which allows administrators to create and prioritize assignments.
  2. Supported Devices - The update metadata returned from Apple contains a list of supported devices for each update. Workspace ONE converts the model identifiers (such as iPad8,8) into human-readable model information.
  3. Device Readiness - The device readiness graph shows the at-a-glance device eligibility (in that organization group and all child organization groups) to take that specific iOS update. Note the four available statuses:
    1. Eligible: On an earlier iOS version and can install the update.
    2. Not Eligible: On an earlier iOS version but cannot install the update (due to hardware incompatibility, non-supervised, and so on).
    3. On This Version: iOS devices currently running this particular version of iOS.
    4. On Higher Version: iOS devices that have upgraded to a newer version of iOS.
  4. Device Status - The device status graph displays the status of assigned, eligible devices that are installing updates. Admins use this chart for at-a-glance tracking progress of the iOS update across the assignments.
  5. Devices - The devices list displays update statuses for all eligible devices based on assignment. Administrators can also select individual devices to initiate a query or download/install commands directly to that device, overriding any settings from an assignment.

    Note: Sending an Override command does not affect any current assignments. If you override a device to send the Download command, but the Download/Install command is assigned for later that day, Workspace ONE still sends the Download/Install command at the assigned time.

Manage Assignments View

The Manage Assignments View provides administrators the ability to create and prioritize update assignments within their environment.

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  1. New Assignment – Administrators use this button to assign download and install commands for this specific iOS update to one or more smart groups.
  2. Save Priority - Administrators use this button to save modifications to the priority they have set for assignments. Workspace ONE uses assignment priority to resolve schedule conflicts for devices in multiple assignments due to their Smart Group membership.
  3. Priority Drag Zone – This User Interface element provides a click-and-hold space for dragging and rearranging priority.
  4. Deployment Start Date – Each Assignment's start date is displayed for quick reference.

    Note: The deployment start date is the day and time when Workspace ONE begins queueing commands to devices. It does not necessarily mean all devices in the assignment will get the command at that exact point in time. Factors that affect command delivery include batching (for large device counts), devices offline or powered off, network connectivity, and so on.
  5. Deployment Mode - This column shows at-a-glance which command is being delivered to the devices in that assignment. Possible values include:
    1. Download: Instruct the device to download the update locally but not install it.
    2. Install: Instruct the device to install a downloaded update. If the update is not downloaded, the device starts downloading the update.
    3. Download and Install: Instruct the device to both download the update and then install it upon download completion. If the device already has the update downloaded, it begins installing the update.

Device Details Updates View

The Device Details Updates View is available by clicking Devices in the Workspace ONE UEM console, then selecting List View, and clicking a specific device. Click the tab called Updates. This tab displays any updates that the device is eligible to install. Administrators can use this tab to publish the download and install commands directly to the device.

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  1. Publish – This button publishes the selected iOS update to the device.
  2. Version - This column shows all available update versions for the device.
  3. Progress Reporting - Workspace ONE displays update progress as it is given from the device, including download percentage and install status.

Understanding Assignment Conflict Resolution

In Workspace ONE UEM, devices can have membership in many different assignment (or smart) groups. Arranging devices in multiple groups is key to flexibility when managing a fleet of devices with potentially overlapping use cases and needs. Additionally, Workspace ONE UEM's organization group structure allows configurations to be defined broadly across devices or more granularly (and potentially by delegated administrators). Because devices can exist in more than one smart group (and those smart groups existing at different levels in an organization group hierarchy), there is a possibility to assign a single device to more than one assignment for iOS Updates. This section explains how Workspace ONE resolves conflicts with respect to iOS Update assignments.

Resolving Assignment Conflicts

There might come an instance when a device has multiple iOS update assignments that potentially conflict with each other. iOS Update conflicts are resolved in the following order:

  1. Most Recent Version Wins: The most recent iOS Update assigned to a device takes precedence.
  2. Closest Organization Group Wins: If the same iOS Update is assigned at different levels in the Organization Group (OG) hierarchy, the assignment closest to the OG to which the device is enrolled takes precedence.
  3. Highest Priority Wins: If the same iOS device exists in multiple assignments for a single iOS Update in a single OG, the assignment with the highest priority takes precedence.

Each scenario is described in more detail below.

Most Recent Version Wins

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In this scenario, the device is enrolled in the Grandchild OG. A single iOS Update for 16.0 (A) has been assigned to the device at the Grandchild OG. An iOS Update for 16.1 (B) has been assigned at the Parent OG, as well as an iOS Update for 16.0 (C). In this case, Workspace ONE selects the update for 16.1 (B) because it contains the most recent iOS version assigned to the device (e.g. iOS 16.1 is prioritized over iOS 16.0).

Closest Organization Group Wins

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In this scenario, the device is again enrolled in the Grandchild OG. A single iOS Update for 16.1 (A) has been assigned to the device at the Child OG. An iOS Update for 16.0 (B) has been assigned at the Grandchild OG, and an iOS Update for 16.1 (C) is assigned from the Parent OG. Workspace ONE will prioritize the update for 16.1 from the Child OG (A) because it is the most recent iOS version assigned to the device, and because the assignment is made at the Organization Group closest in the hierarchy (Child vs. Parent) to where the device is enrolled (Grandchild).

Highest Priority Wins

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In this scenario, there are two iOS Update assignments (A & C) with the most recent iOS version, and both are in the same OG. One assignment is configured to only download the update (A), whereas the second assignment is configured to download and install the update (C). Workspace ONE will choose the assignment with the highest priority (A) and will only send the command to download the update.

Assigning iOS Updates to Devices

In this exercise, you will create and configure a new assignment from the iOS Updates List View.

Assign Updates from the iOS Update List View

To get the desired result, perform the following steps:

  1. On your desktop, double-click the Google Chrome icon.
  2. Navigate to the VMware Workspace ONE UEM Console.
    For example, navigate to https://<WorkspaceONEUEMHostname> where WorkspaceONEUEMHostname is the host name of the Workspace ONE UEM console.
  3. Enter your Username, for example, administrator.
  4. Click Next. After you click Next, the Password text box is displayed.
  5. Enter your Password, for example, VMware1!. Click Login.

    Note: If you see a Captcha, be aware that it is case sensitive.
  6. In the Workspace ONE UEM console, select Resources. Then select Device Updates.
  7. On the Device Updates List View, select iOS from the options at the top.

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  1. Select the row for the iOS update you want to deploy. Click Manage Assignments.
  2. Click New Assignment. Enter a name for the assignment. For example, All iOS Devices.
  3. For Select Smart Group, click in the search box. From the list of Assignment Groups that appear, select the appropriate group. For example, select All iOS Devices (your@email.shown.here).
  4. Click Next.
  5. For Deployment Begins, enter a date (or use the calendar picker) for the deployment to begin and enter a time and choose AM/PM.
  6. Select the Deployment Method you want to use for the assigned devices:
    1. Download and Install (for example, do both actions to automate the process)
    2. Download Only (for example, stage the update locally on the device)
    3. Install Only (attempts to trigger the install)
  7. Click Next.
  8. Click to activate the Notification for Download Success.
  9. Enter a message for Push Notification. For example, enter A new iOS Update has been downloaded.
  10. Click to activate the Notification for Install Success.
  11. Enter a message for Push Notification. For example, enter A new iOS Update has been installed.
  12. Click Save.

Add Additional Assignments and Prioritize

There will be instances where you need to have multiple assignments for an iOS Update, as well as adjust the priority for specific assignments. This section will detail how to add additional assignments and change the priority of existing assignments.

  1. To add an additional assignment, In the Workspace ONE UEM console, select Resources. Then select Device Updates.
  2. On the Device Updates List View, select iOS from the options at the top.
  3. Select the row for the iOS update to which you want to add an additional assignment. Click Manage Assignments.
  4. Click New Assignment. Enter a name for the assignment. For example, All iOS Devices.
  5. For Select Smart Group, click in the search box. From the list of Assignment Groups that appear, select the appropriate group. For example, select All iOS Devices (your@email.shown.here).
  6. Click Next.
  7. For Deployment Begins, enter a date (or use the calendar picker) for the deployment to begin and enter a time and choose AM/PM.
  8. Select the Deployment Method you want to use for the assigned devices:
    1. Download and Install (for example, do both actions to automate the process)
    2. Download Only (for example, stage the update locally on the device)
    3. Install Only (attempts to trigger the install)
  9. Click Next.
  10. Click to activate the Notification for Download Success.
  11. Enter a message for Push Notification. For example, enter A new iOS Update has been downloaded.
  12. Click to activate the Notification for Install Success.
  13. Enter a message for Push Notification. For example, enter A new iOS Update has been installed.
  14. Click Save.
  15. To change the priority of the assignments, click and hold the grab area next to the assignment you want to change, and drag the assignments to rearrange their order.
  16. After you have finished rearranging the assignments, click Save Priority to set the updated priority.

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  1. Click Close.

Pause and Resume Assignments

Within the iOS update framework in Workspace ONE UEM, administrators can pause and resume updates without having to modify the assignments. This allows administrators to maintain visibility as to the deployments to date while having the ability to halt further deployments for troubleshooting purposes.

In this exercise, you learn how to pause and resume an update assignment.

  1. To add an additional assignment, in the Workspace ONE UEM console, select Resources. Then select Device Updates.
  2. On the Device Updates List View, select iOS from the options at the top.
  3. Select the row for the iOS update that you want to pause. Click Pause.

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  1. When prompted, confirm the action by clicking Pause. The Update Status will change to Paused.
  2. To resume the iOS Update, select the row for the paused iOS update that you want to resume. Click Resume.

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  1. When prompted, confirm the action by clicking Resume.
  2. The Update Status will change to Assigned.

Managing Updates

This section covers how to manage updates for individual devices, as well as how to override existing assignments.

Publish Updates for Individual Devices

  1. On your desktop, double-click the Google Chrome icon.
  2. Navigate to the VMware Workspace ONE UEM Console.
    For example, navigate to https://<WorkspaceONEUEMHostname> where WorkspaceONEUEMHostname is the host name of the Workspace ONE UEM console.
  3. Enter your Username, for example, administrator.
  4. Click Next. After you click Next, the Password text box is displayed.
  5. Enter your Password, for example, VMware1!. Click Login.

    Note: If you see a Captcha, be aware that it is case sensitive.
  6. In the Workspace ONE UEM console, select Devices. Then select List View.
  7. Select the device for which you want to manage updates.
  8. Click the Updates tab.
  9. Select an OS Update from the list displayed and click Publish.

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  1. The Update page will appear. Click the preferred Device Installation Method.
    1. Download: Instruct the device to download the update locally but not install it.
    2. Install: Instruct the device to install a downloaded update. If the update is not downloaded, the device starts downloading the update.
    3. Download and Install: Instruct the device to both download the update and then install it upon download completion. If the device already has the update downloaded, it begins installing the update.

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  1. Click Send to publish the OS Update to the device.
  2. To monitor the status of the OS Update, you can click the Query Update Progress button. Review the Download % and Progress Status in the Updates tab.

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Override Assignments

In this exercise, you will override the settings for an existing assignment for individual devices.

  1. To override an existing assignment, in the Workspace ONE UEM console, select Resources. Then select Device Updates.
  2. On the Device Updates List View, select iOS from the options at the top.
  3. Click the iOS link on the row containing the update where you want to manage devices.
  4. Scroll down the screen until you see the list of devices assigned to this OS Update. Select a device from the list, and click the Override dropdown.
  5. Select the command you want to send to the device.

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  1. A warning message will be displayed. Review the Override choice you selected to ensure it is correct. Click Yes to perform the override.

Summary and Additional Resources

With Workspace ONE UEM, administrators can manage operating system updates to iOS devices. Administrators can automate the download and install actions, or granularly control those two steps independently. With these features, Workspace ONE UEM allows for automated update cycles convenient to an organization's needs.

This operational tutorial provided steps to help you understand the UI screens, assign iOS updates to devices, and how to manage those updates. It also discussed how Workspace ONE UEM resolves assignment conflicts.

Additional Resources

For more information, explore the following Activity Path on Digital Workspace Tech Zone. Activity paths provide step-by-step guidance to help you level-up your product knowledge. You will find everything from beginner to advanced curated assets in the form of articles, videos, and labs.

See the following for additional resources related to iOS update management with Workspace ONE UEM:

Additionally, you can check out the VMware Workspace ONE and VMware Horizon Reference Architecture which provides a framework and guidance for architecting an integrated digital workspace using VMware Workspace ONE and VMware Horizon.

Changelog

The following updates were made to this guide:

Date

Description of Changes

2022/11/8

  • Updated procedures to match recent changes in the Workspace ONE UEM interface.
  • Updated screenshots.

2019/12/13

  • Guide was published.

About the Author and Contributors

The latest version of this document was written by:

  • Michael Bradley, Senior Technical Marketing Architect, End-User-Computing Technical Marketing, VMware.

This tutorial was originally written by: 

  • Robert Terakedis, VMware alumni.

Feedback

Your feedback is valuable.

To comment on this paper, contact VMware End-User-Computing Technical Marketing at euc_tech_content_feedback@vmware.com.


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