VPP Redemption Codes & Apple School Manager

Another interesting discussion today on the MacAdmin’s slack revealed a workflow gap created for some schools when Apple deprecated Volume Purchasing (VPP) Redemption Codes.

Essentially, a really horrible process could be used to buy a bunch of licenses for an app, in the form of codes, and give them to end users to redeem.

It was superseded some time ago by Managed Distribution, championed by MDMs, to initially assign licenses to devices, “activated” against their Apple ID. This was later improved again by assigning directing to a device (no Apple ID required).

This evolution saw the decline of ye old redemption codes to the point that Apple chose to sunset it (for EDU only??) and focus on managed distribution. This has left a gap in workflow for some schools.

Some schools were using codes as a lightweight touch to tackle the ever popular adoption of bring your own device (BYOD), gifting apps to students to use on their personal devices (assume wrapping up in school fees). No need to enrol a BYO device into MDM.

With that option now gone, solidified by Apple forcing migration for the legacy volume purchasing portal to Apple School Manager in December 2019, schools are trying to figure out how to replace this workflow. Mass purchase of iTunes cards is being floated.

One option, which does involve MDM, is the new user enrolment MDM channel. I won’t go into detail here, but effectively iOS 13 and macOS 10.15 devices can enrol into your MDM using a managed Apple ID (from ASM) and get a quarantined slice of your device storage to install organisation content (if your MDM supports it). The MDM can’t even see your device serial number… making its new set of limitations a much more comfortable pill to swallow than “letting you install an app gives you access to erase my entire personal device” level of control.

The other option (which will be the most attractive to the redemption code loving crowd) is Apple Configurator 2.

This article points out a nice solution for “If you want to use managed distribution, but don’t have an MDM solution”:

Given you only need initial access to the device and then can revoke later as needed, this might be a nice solution.

To Add:

To Revoke:

Let’s see if this approach gets any traction with the BYOD wrangling EDU community.