With all the WWDC news, it might be easy forget that there will be one or two minor updates for macOS 14 and iOS 17 before the new major upgrades are released. Apple did release the betas for macOS 14.6, iOS 17.6, et al this week.

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In the last two weeks, I got to participate and present five presentations at two MacAdmins meetings and two JamfNation Live events in Haarlem, Amsterdam and Berlin. Many thanks to everyone who helped prepare and organize these events, those who presented with me, and all of you who came up to talk to me afterwards. It is wonderful to experience the great community that we all get to be a part of.

This has kept me from digging deep into the details from the WWDC news, but I did want to share some first impressions and also review how my wish list from two weeks ago fared.

The User Perspective

Before I dive into the system administrator perspective of Apple's 2024 platform upgrades, here are a few of my impressions as a user of these platforms.

First, after years of flattening and monochrome-ing the user interface, we are getting some depth and color back. Apple's preview pages have some examples, like Control Center, the new Password app interface and the Message Tapback icons. It's a subtle change, but personally I am glad that this particular pendulum is turning back again.

On iPadOS, Math Notes and other handwriting improvements are really interesting. But I am disappointed that there are no major improvements to iPadOS to enable this platform to use the potential of its hardware. Maybe next year…

Apple is using the term Apple Intelligence to cover a set of new different features powered by machine learning across all platforms. I appreciate that Apple is pushing the boundaries what happens on-device, even though the hardware requirements are steep, especially on the iPhone, where they require the A17 Pro which only the iPhone 15 Pro has. On iPad and Mac the baseline is the M1 chip, which seems more reasonable. Remarkably, no mention of Apple Intelligence on visionOS.

The writing tools look quite useful, and the new Siri functionality feels long overdue. The work Apple has put into Private Cloud Compute is very impressive. I am curious how this might affect Apple's energy usage and their desire to become carbon neutral.

Aside from the Apple Intelligence features, most of which will not be rolled out with the upgrades in the Fall, but over time, the 2024 releases are not huge feature laden releases. This is a good.

The Mac Admin Perspective

This also shows in the news related for IT. This year, there was only a single session dedicated to managing Apple Devices. Nevertheless, Apple introduced some solid improvements.

Because I have heard the questions already, there do seem to be restrictions that admins can use to turn off the new features, especially the Math Notes and writing tools, as well as the ChatGPT integrations. We will have to test if they are sufficient and file feedback quickly in case they aren't.

As I had wished for, there seems to be not only a way to deploy and manage LaunchDaemons, but admins will be able to do so in way that prohibits tampering from users, even when they have admin privileges. This will require support from the MDM solution, but I can't wait to test this and experiment.

Platform SSO should now also work at the Filevault unlock window (check that off the wish list!), but no iPad support yet. The DDM based Software Update management gains some new features, which remove the reliance on older pre-DDM commands and profiles to manage updates, once your fleet is entirely upgraded to macOS 15 and iOS 18.

Managed Apple IDs (MAIDs) are now called Manage Apple Accounts (MAA) and we all have to rewrite our documentation. Apple Business Manager and Apple School Manager will receive a welcome new feature that allows orgs to clear an activation lock, but no news on when Apple Business Essentials and the related services, like more iCloud storage and managed AppleCare will be available outside the US or to other management systems.

Once again, I am missing improvements for managed deployments of app subscriptions or in-App purchases. I guess that will go into my Enterprise Report Card survey for the fifth year.

Overall, these look like solid upgrades, but Apple seems to have gotten the balance right, it does not look like there are going to be too many disruptions. We now have three months with a lot of testing and filing feedback ahead of us!

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