Content distribution methods for Apple devices
There are several ways you can distribute apps and books to Apple devices and users. After you decide on what types of apps you want to distribute, you can then decide which apps you want and where you’ll distribute them.
Distribute apps to devices
For devices to get assigned apps from your organization, the devices must be enrolled in your mobile device management (MDM) solution. After an app is assigned to a device, it’s pushed to that device through MDM, with no Managed Apple ID or Apple ID required. Anyone using that device has access to that app. You can reassign an app to a different device when necessary. For supervised devices, apps are installed silently without user interaction.
If you previously assigned apps to users, MDM solutions can perform a silent migration from per-user assignments to per-device assignments. The device must be enrolled in an MDM solution. For more information, refer to your MDM vendor’s documentation.
The following apply to apps that are assigned to a device:
Apps can be automatically removed when a user unenrolls the device from MDM.
Apps aren’t automatically reinstalled after a restore from backup.
App updates are entirely managed by MDM.
Apple Configurator also allows device-based app assignment. For more information, see Install apps with Apple Configurator.
Note: Devices that leverage User Enrollment, which is ideal for organizations where users bring their own devices (BYOD), use user-assigned apps.
Distribute books from the store in Apple Books
When books are assigned to users, those books follow the same country and region download restrictions as apps. The correct Apple Books country or region is determined by the address submitted when your organization enrolled in Apple School Manager or Apple Business Manager. For example, if your organization enrolled with an address in the United States, the Apple Books locale is set to the United States.
Books purchased through Apple School Manager or Apple Business Manager can be distributed through managed book distribution only to users, not devices, and they can’t be revoked and reassigned.
Note: Some Apple Books content is not available in certain countries or regions. To learn whether certain Apple Books content is available in your country or region, see the Apple Support article Availability of Apple programs and payment methods for education and business.
Required app for unsupervised devices
In iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, or later, MDM administrators can install an app on unsupervised devices at the time of enrollment. The user must consent to this installation when they enroll in the MDM solution. To enable this feature, administrators set the
iTunesStoreID of the App Store app in the
RequiredAppIDForMDM property of the MDM profile. They must then make sure the app has a device or user license and send the
InstallApplication command after MDM enrollment. MDM administrators can also add a Managed App attribute to make sure the user can’t remove the app. If the user already has the app installed, they receive an alert requesting MDM management of the app. For more information on the latest changes to the MDM payload, see the MDM enrollment page at the Apple Developer website.
Distribute apps and books to users that have a Managed Apple ID
Users with Managed Apple IDs can automatically receive Managed Apps purchased by their organization through Apple School Manager, Apple Business Manager, or Apple Business Essentials.
Distribute apps and books to users that have a personal Apple ID
Users with personal Apple IDs must be invited and accept the invitation to participate in distribution of Apps and Books content. Apps and books distributed to a user through your MDM solution aren’t shared with family members if the user has a Family Sharing account with iCloud.
Follow these steps to distribute apps to users with personal Apple IDs:
Invite the user or group: The user is invited to your organization’s Apps and Books managed distribution. This is done with your MDM solution and may be done through email or push notification. They’re then prompted to accept Terms and Conditions of the program.
The user accepts the invitation: The user’s personal Apple ID is linked to your organization (without revealing the Apple ID to you). This means you don’t need to create an Apple ID for these users. Apps assigned to a user appear in that user’s App Store purchase history.
MDM sends app installation commands: Unsupervised devices prompt the user to accept the installation of an app. For supervised devices, apps are installed silently, without prompting. You can also assign more apps and books at any time.
Reassign apps: When a user no longer needs an app, you can reassign it to a different user.