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Syncing iPads?

So now I have a new iPad Air and a new iPad mini. All in the name of research of course!

Both machines are wonderful, but each has a specific role for me:

The iPad Air tends to be my main iPad when at my desk, or when I need to use the keyboard for extended periods of time. 

The iPad mini is my travel iPad and the one I turn to when away from my desk. 

I could use one quite easily for both roles, but hey, I need to keep up with the latest and greatest. 

So my first world problem is how to keep them in sync. 

Yes, I know I can sync new apps quite easily. That's built into iOS. I just switch on automatic downloads for Music, Apps, Books and Updates and everything new will be pushed to both iPads. However, if I delete an app off one of the iPads, it will remain on the second iPad.

I'd also like to sync my home screen layouts - re-arrange on 1 iPad and the changes in icon positioning and layout are reflected on the other. 

A current Twitter stream suggests that Apple Configurator could be the answer, but I'm not sure it would acheive what I really want - it may be a half way house though. 

iCloud backup/restore is also a potential half way house solution - Configure one of the iPadsd as I want it, do an iCloud backup and restore to the second device. Again, it will establish a common starting position, but over time, things will drift. There is also the issue of user data. It can take quite a while to restore data and there's always the issue of re-entering some passwords and re-authorising apps in the restored version. 

I just want changes on one to be reflected on the other in real time and automatically. 

Not a major problem, but as iPads start to become more popular, I'm sure others will have the same (nice to have) problem!

iOS8 perhaps?




Reader Comments (1)

I can see this being a need in an education environment. When I was a site tech, I would do something similar with the Macintoshes on the network. I'd basically create one image then clone it and re-image the other machines. I had different "flavors" of images depending on the end user. Areas where students would not be interacting with the machines, like staff machines for example, had different images. I then used WorkGroup Manager to tweak the additional settings like how docks behaved and what apps showed up on them. Whenever applications needed updates or apps needed to be deleted, I used Apple Remote Desktop to push out the changes.

That being said, it seems like part of this puzzle is similar in the way I worked with multiple Macs. I wonder if perhaps you need something like Apple Remote Desktop to manage your iPads. Do the imaging and "cloning" part like you have going - setting one up the way you like it then clone it to the other iPad by way of the restore from backup method. Then it's just the changes you need to "push out" sort of like a manual sync. There has to be some type of tool that leverages the controls like those found in ARD but with the ability to run automation IFTTT scripts. "If iPad 1 deletes and app, then delete the same app on iPad 2." The data within apps will need to be independently synced within their own clouds, however. Day One app comes to mind. Being a journal entry on one device then finish it on the other. The data itself is synced via iCloud. For syncing home screens and the app positions you'll need something for iOS like WorkGroup Manager is for the Mac. I haven't been a sys admin in this capacity since 2008 though so I'm not sure what's evolved over time in the iOS world of networking devices like this, but the topic still fascinates me!!

I'm thinking now that I remember a while ago asking about something similar and Adam Christianson answered my tweet with a screenshot of an app that was similar to ARD but for iOS machines. I'll see if I can dig it up or he might know off the top of his head what it was called. It might have been Apple Configurator but something tells me it was another tool.

November 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTheMacMommy

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