Monthly Archives: November 2015

Apple VPP and Device ID

So as most people who deal with Apple iOS devices will now be aware, as of iOS 9 Apple provided the ability to deploy apps via Device ID as well as via Apple ID. This process is called managed distribution. For the many schools that are dealing with iOS devices in a shared environment, this will improve the process of getting apps on devices and keeping them up to date.

The are some small caveats

◉ Apps must be deployed via a supported MDM solution

◉ Alternatively they can be deployed via the new Apple Configurator 2

◉ The App developer must enable this feature on their App

Apple has had a way to convert apps from VPP codes to managed distribution for a long time. This process has now been been made even easier. You can request apps be converted to managed distribution via specific orders, which means you can stage your conversion based on when devoplers enable this function. The instructions for this are available here: https://support.apple.com/en-au/HT202863

But how do you know if a app is available via managed distribution to Device ID?

The iTunes Store has an API that you can either manually visit a URL to view, or do something programmatically to check this. The general URL is:

http://itunes.apple.com/lookup?id=<appstore_ID_Number>

How do you get the App Store ID number? If you search for the app in question in iTunes, it’s fairly easy. Next to the “Buy” or “Get” button (depending if it’s free or paid) click the chevron (the little downwards arrow) and click “Get Link”. Paste that link somewhere and you’ll see something like

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/self-service-mobile/id718509958?mt=8

Our ID in this case is 718509958. The app I’ve looked up is JAMF Self Service. Now pop that into the API URL format:

http://itunes.apple.com/lookup?id=718509958

If you drop that URL into a browser, you’ll get a JSON response. To find out if the app supports device-based VPP licensing, the key you’re looking for is

isVppDeviceBasedLicensingEnabled

An app that supports VPP device-based licensing will return a value of true.

This way you can check your already purchased apps to ensure that they will work with this new feature, before getting the codes converted, or before you choose to purchase a app.

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