Update: Casper Focus and Version 8.7 of the Casper Suite are now available. Casper Focus can be downloaded from the App Store and you can download v8.7 of the Casper Suite (required for Casper Focus) from JAMFNation.
Let me start by saying that I'm not the expert on deploying and managing iPads en masse. Yet.
I'm slowly beginning to implement iPads into our schools and if the forward momentum is a sign this isn't going to slow down anytime soon. Apple has dominated the education market with a product that's intimate, engaging and focused; all fantastic attributes of a solution education is asking for. One of the big things that's missing from that experience is control. Teachers and administrators need control of the technology in their classroom. Many use tools such as Remote Desktop to do this with OS X but what options are there for the iPad?
Today JAMF Software announced a new product called Casper Focus to address this specific need and to help enable iPads to take another step forward into the classroom. If you aren't familiar with JAMF and your managing more than a handful of Apple products you should get to know them. The Casper Suite is a set of tools designed to centrally manage and maintain all of your OS X and iOS devices (and even capture inventory of your Windows machines). Today's announcement includes a forthcoming update to the Casper Suite that will enable this new iOS app (for iPad only, for now) to do a few very intriguing things.
Casper Focus gives teachers a simplified interface to certain MDM level features of iOS in order to lead and control the iPads within their classrooms. The core features for the initial release allow teachers to view information about the iPads in their classroom, reset passcodes and guide (and even lock) iPads into certain applications. Putting these features into teachers hands and removing the IT support staff from the picture to make things such as this a reality is very exciting.
The best part of the whole announcement today was the price. The application will be free. The goal is obviously to bring more iPads customers into the Casper Suite fold as the Casper Suite is requred. Even so, the fact that JAMF isn't charging anything for these new capabilities is reassuring in our own purchase of the Casper Suite. This will be an application to continue to watch.