Apple has unveiled a new package of support services designed to help small business IT teams manage their employee devices.
Providing businesses use Apple hardware, IT teams will now be able to manage all their employees' technology needs using the new suite of tools aimed at assisting the onboarding of new team members and providing oversight on the workforce's IT.
Dubbed Apple Business Essentials, the package includes is 24/7 phone support for IT managers and end-users, business iCloud storage, device management capabilities, and on-site repairs for businesses of 500 employees or fewer.
IT administrators are also able to bundle certain rules and required apps to different types of employees. For example, if the design team needs a specific suite of apps, they can be bundled into a 'Collection' and sent automatically to the team members' devices.
Specific VPN and Wi-Fi access configurations can also be pre-determined and added to a collection to easily apply those settings to the employees who need them.
Smart user groups also allow IT teams to group employees based on factors like location, department, and job role, which can make applying these collections much easier.
For users being imported from Microsoft Azure Active Directory, they will also receive their apps and settings once added to a smart user group.
Business customers will also eventually receive priority AppleCare support to resolve any issues quickly, although they will need to specifically purchase a plan featuring AppleCare+ for Business Essentials in order to be eligible. Details for these plans will not be unveiled until spring 2022.
Apple is also touting onsite same-day repairs available to businesses in as little as 4 hours to minimise downtime. The caveat is that onsite repairs are only available on certain iPhone models, which haven't been specified, and will be supported only in specific cities. Apple said each plan will only have two repairs available and these refresh annually.
The service is now available in beta before the full launch in spring 2022. Currently only available to US-based SMBs, plans start at $2.99 (£2.23) per month for a single device, $6.99 (£5.22) per month for a multi device plan, and $12.99 (£9.70) per month for a multi device plan with extra storage.
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IT Pro contacted Apple for more information on when the UK can expect to see the service but it declined to offer any further information at this time.
"As your business grows, you may find yourself managing an increasing number of devices for your expanding team," said Susan Prescott, vice president of enterprise and education marketing at Apple. "We understand that the IT needs of your employees, on top of everything else you're already doing, is a lot to take on.
"To help you with that, we're introducing a new service which brings together device management, storage, and support into one simple subscription for small businesses with up to 500 employees."
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Connor Jones has been at the forefront of global cyber security news coverage for the past few years, breaking developments on major stories such as LockBit’s ransomware attack on Royal Mail International, and many others. He has also made sporadic appearances on the ITPro Podcast discussing topics from home desk setups all the way to hacking systems using prosthetic limbs. He has a master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from the University of Sheffield, and has previously written for the likes of Red Bull Esports and UNILAD tech during his career that started in 2015.