Making the Grade Remote access likely to become a standard iOS feature following support in Apple Classroom for iPad

One of Apple’s spring education announcements was iOS remote support for teachers in Apple Classroom. Remote support on iOS is something I never thought I’d see, but a global pandemic changed many plans for everyone. With many schools still virtual across the US, remote support is something that all schools need. On macOS, remote support is a solved problem with multiple solutions. On iOS, though, it was previously another story. In situations where I needed to give someone on iOS remote support, I had even resorted to using FaceTime on one device to view the screen of another. After thinking about this feature’s implications, I am convinced this is step one on a path to iOS offering remote support to education, businesses, and eventually end-users.

For the first time, the Classroom app will support learning beyond the walls of a school. Classroom has always connected students in the same physical space with their teachers, and soon teachers will be able to invite remote students to join a Classroom session. While connected, the same Classroom features that teachers are familiar with will enable them to guide students to specific apps, view their screen, and see a summary of their engagement.

From a technical perspective, Apple has implemented remote support through Apple Classroom in an ideal way. With remote support, user privacy is paramount, and Apple has integrated it tightly into managed Apple IDs. In the future, I expect Apple offers it for device-based iOS devices in the future. I see iPads installed more and more in kiosk-based systems. Mobile device management protocols give IT admins many tools to remotely update, change settings, and even lock iPads to a particular app. Still, there’s something handy about being able to see the screen remotely. If an app needs to be configured manually, having a remote support option would be ideal. I’ve used Apple Classroom multiple times with students, but always in the same building. By taking it outside of the school walls, Apple is listening to what their customers need. It would have been nice to have this at the beginning of the school year, but adding remote support is a fundamental shift in how iOS works.

Now that Apple has implemented remote support in education, I expect Apple to add an option for IT administrators to connect to managed Apple IDs in Apple Business Manager remotely. I think it’ll be implemented over FaceTime, where an employee receives a FaceTime audio/video call. Once the call is connected, the employee would receive a remote support request that would confirm what the other person can see. In the future, I’d love to see Apple block remote access to the Photos app and iMessage, so all that information remains private.

After Apple implements remote iOS support on the business side, I expect them to roll it out to personal users in much the same manner. While on a FaceTime audio/video call, a user could initiate remote support with the person on the other end. A prompt would appear confirming what the person can and cannot see.

As iOS devices become more and more used in our daily lives, having an option for IT administrations and customer service technicians to offer iOS remote support will become more and more crucial. I never expected Apple to allow it, but they’ve done it in an ideal way for students, so I believe they will take to the next step and provide it to more people.