How do I add an Apple TV to Apple Business Manager?

Apple Business Manager is a great tool for businesses that purchase devices such as Apple TVs, iPads, and iPhones, as this cloud portal streamlines the enrollment process for Apple devices.

Enrolled Apple devices are much easier to fully deploy and manage, right down to controlling those devices’ access to apps, files and data. It is also possible to choose platforms with a wider functional range to work with Apple Business Manager (ABM) for iPhones and Macs.

Using Apple TV with Apple Business Manager

ABM has enough management capabilities to act as a single management platform for Apple TV devices, which offer fewer features than an iPad or iPhone.

ABM is a good starting point for anyone who wants to manage some of their Apple products. This platform enables automatic application deployment using Apple’s Volume Purchase Program (VPP), publishing of custom enterprise applications, zero-touch device configuration, and content deployment based on locations or groups of devices.

One of the key benefits of ABM is the Apple Device Enrollment Program (DEP). This program associates any Apple device purchased by a business, either from Apple or an authorized reseller, with the customer number or Apple reseller number of the purchaser making the purchase. The DEP process facilitates device enrollment when the end user receives and activates it.

When a purchased device is enrolled in DEP, ABM applies any preconfigured profile with specific apps, content, or permissions. The enrollment process also allows IT administrators to manage mobile devices (MDM).

ABM allows credits to be stored on the license to allow their end users to obtain pre-purchased applications. Thus, end users no longer need to enter their personal or corporate credit card, which was previously required to acquire applications from the Apple App Store. ABM also enables organizations that have developed custom mobile apps for iOS to provision and publish them to devices without going through the App Store.

Another feature is ABM’s Managed Apple ID. Administrators can use ABM to provide Apple IDs to employees or accounts associated with Apple TVs. Managing Apple IDs can be invaluable for larger companies that associate work email addresses with devices.

How do I assign new Apple TVs to Apple Business Manager?

This process is to get an Apple TV signed up to an organization’s ABM account. To get started, the IT department must provide the customer number or organization ID to the vendor that sells them the Apple TV devices.

To take advantage of the automatic enrollment of Apple TVs purchased to their Apple Business Manager account, the organization must register and notify the seller and provide them with the Apple devices with their Apple Customer Number or Organization ID.

Once the organization has received, configured and connected the Apple TV to the Internet, IT must ensure that it is enrolled in ABM. If the organization uses MDM for Apple TV management, administrators must assign it to the default MDM server platform connected to the ABM portal (Figure 1).

Figure 1. The Apple Business Manager portal showing an Apple TV enrolled in SimpleMDM.

Now that the device is enrolled, administrators can prepare all the apps Apple TV wants. If the device is linked to an MDM platform, administrators can manage it using the MDM console or ABM itself. With an MDM platform, administrators can control many Apple TV features. Several configuration categories are available in the ABM portal to manage a device or groups of devices (Figure 2).

Screenshot of Apple TV services and apps configuration options in ABM.
Figure 2. Apple TV service and application configuration options in ABM.

From this list, administrators can choose which applications and configurations to deploy. When an administrator clicks the next button, ABM displays all possible configurations for that specific setting (Figure 3). Configuration options include Wi-Fi, VPN and password lock.

Screenshot of advanced configurations in Apple Business Manager.
Advanced configurations in Apple Business Manager.

Despite these built-in ABM capabilities, many organizations still use third-party MDM platforms to manage all Apple and non-Apple devices in a single console. However, ABM supports enrollment of Apple devices in non-native MDM platforms and helps organizations using them manage desktops, mobile devices, Apple devices and everything in between.

ABM can offer basic functionality that meets the basic needs of businesses as they exist today. It usually offers enough support for basic devices like the Apple TV, but often isn’t enough to function as a standalone management tool for a whole fleet of desktops, smartphones and more.

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