Is Apple trying to discourage BYOD?

Is Apple trying to discourage BYOD?

Summary: Apple moved the VPN settings in iOS 5 from the main screen to General settings in iOS 6 and even farther down the list of General settings in iOS 7. Why would Apple make this strange move unless it actually wants to discourage BYOD for its product users?

TOPICS: Apple, iOS, Software

After my upgrade to iOS 7, I looked around for changes to the system that might surprise me—in a good way. Never did I ever suspect that Apple would bury the VPN* settings in this new iOS version, but it did. Instead of moving VPN to the main Settings screen like I think it should have, it's still under General, but all the way down at the bottom, just above Reset. Is this a conscious move to discourage you from BYOD? I think it is. 

iOS5.x VPN Settings
Figure 1: iOS 5.x VPN Settings (Screenshot: ZDNet)

I feel that Apple has sent a clear but subtle message to those of you who want to participate in your company's BYOD program. The message is clear because it buried the VPN settings. The message is subtle because there was no announcement or communications about the move. Moving the VPN settings might not seem like a big deal to you (or Apple) unless you take your device to work or use a VPN for remote connectivity into your office.

Figure 1 shows you that the VPN settings were on the main Settings screen. When I updated to iOS 6, the VPN icon disappeared, only to be found under General.

The VPN settings were inconvenient to access on iOS 6.x when it was moved from the main screen to General, but now it's so inconvenient that it's just silly. Prior to iOS 7, the VPN settings were placed fifth from the top of the list under General, as shown in Figure 2.

In iOS 7, the VPN settings link is so far down the list that you might not find it unless you want to reset your device.

To find VPN settings in iOS 7, open the Settings app, open General, scroll all the way to the bottom of the screen. There it is right where you didn't expect it.

VPN settings iOS 6.x
Figure 2: VPN settings in iOS 6.x. (Screenshot: ZDNet)

So you see that it's not my imagination that Apple is slowly, with each new iteration of its device operating system, moving VPN connectivity out of the picture completely. My guess is that iOS 8 won't even have VPN capability. I hope some clever app developer creates one in a hurry for those who use it.

Accessing a VPN is too important to bury it away from easy access. And it's far too important to leave out completely.

Apple, are you listening?

Hiding the VPN settings is equivalent to making it really hard to change your password. 

VPN is an important security protocol for corporate users and burying it further distances Apple products from business and enterprise use. Of course, that's my humble opinion but it seems pretty obvious to me that Apple's new placement of the VPN settings means that business use of its devices is low priority.

I'm hopeful that in the next minor update Apple brings back VPN to the main Settings screen. I won't hold my breath.

What do you think? Do you think this obvious VPN burying is a good idea, a bad idea, or does it matter at all? Talk back and let me know.

*Yes, I'm aware of iOS 7's new features of VPN per app and on-demand VPN but that changes nothing, as far as I'm concerned. The reason is that to use those features, your company has to have the right setup** on the network side of things. In other words, you can't do it from your device. So, for most people who use a corporate network, a handy VPN switch would be really handy. You know, like it was two iOS' ago—before all of the improvements.

**iOS 7 VPN per app and VPN on-demand server-side features in the MDM or use an Apple VPN server.

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Topics: Apple, iOS, Software


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • Doesn't matter to me

    Personal devices are not allowed to connect to our VPN, period. Users can only have one device authorized for VPN access, and about 100% choose something useful, like their PC, while 0% of those who even have corporate tablets choose that device.
    • More and more companies...

      are moving away from company owned devices. BYOD is becoming more prevalent. Your company may still be in the past, but most future-minded businesses are moving towards BYOD. This article is addressing that issue, not with companies that choose to lock-down their environment.
      Thomas Kolakowski
      • "Still be in the past" and "future-minded businesses"?

        OK, so a company that doesn't want the issue associated with BYOD isn't a "future minded company", even though those issues will happen in the future?

        Wouldn't you say a company that evaluates the problems with BYOD that says they don't want to deal with them is being proactive, which is what a future minded business dose?

        And wouldn't the smart, working policies that have warded off these issues in the past be something that you want to bring into the future if there's no downside? So really not "past, but also current and future.

        Looking both ways before crossing the street has worked in the past. You just don't stop doing something because "it's from the past".
      • Our customers will stand for nothing less

        We are subject to many customer audits per year in terms of data security. They are constantly looking for ways to lock down more.

        Thanks to such draconian measures, you're rather unlikely to see us on the news, trying to spin control a major data breach.
  • Stupid Article

    You set it up once and you are done.

    Once you set it up, going into Settings and in the first group of settings, the last one there is the toggle for VPN.

    Not hidden, not out of sight or anyother nonsense of this article.
    • Agreed.


      Did you try a VPN config or multiple to see how it actually functions?

      I have to agree that for the majority who use a VPN, it's probably normally configured by IT and for the few of us who manually configure it, one we configure it, we find it conveniently located at the first level once in settings.

      The one thing that I think would be nice is being able to toggle the VPN right from the control panel, if one were configured - we'll see if apple adds that capability - in all honesty, it doesn't seem to be any more buried than it was previously.
  • @itguy10

    What if you have more than one VPN that you connect to? Like an Office one and a personal one?

    It is out of sight.
    • If you are using a personal VPN....

      then you really shouldn't care where the settings are as you are more technically inclined than the masses!
      Thomas Kolakowski
      • Two or more VPNs is hardly a common use case for any iOS device

        Is Apple supposed to design iOS for the vast majority of users or for the tiny fraction of 1%....or maybe design it specially for Ken?
        • Re: Two or more VPNs is hardly a common use

          I have five on my iPhone.

          Still, the setting is on the very first page of Settings. In fact, if you have configured only one, it's a convenient ON/OFF switch. If you have configured more than one, it is (obviously) a menu item, where you can select which one you want activated.

          Apple has designed this well.
    • More than 1 VPN

      If you have more than 1 VPN configured then there is still a VPN item at the top of the main Settings screen. Tapping that takes you directly to the full VPN settings where you can pick which VPN you want to activate.
  • People still use Iphones ?

    And here I was thinking we were getting close to 2014... ;)
    • What?

      And what would a businessman rather used?
      Think about how people would look at you pulling out your samsung phone in a business meeting.
      • I really hope..

        That post was sarcastic...
        • Nope

          The novelty of the SGSIV and it's ridiculous size has passed, they had a good run there for a year but people are regaining their sense as shown by the huge iPhone sales. Combine that with the fear of open sourced malware, not to mention the stuplexity of Android in general, and there's only one conclusion - 2014 will be known as the year of the iPhone, again.
      • True businessmen use BlackBerry 10

        Like a Z30:
    • DJK2

      Hate much?
  • Maybe....

    ... they are doing it so that only the company IT folks will go in and setup the VPN for their employees? The easier it is to get to, the easier it is for "non-technical" people to accidentally screw up the settings. You tend to make things you don't want changed less accessible.
    Thomas Kolakowski
  • Thinking about it wrong...

    I think you are thinking about it in the wrong way. Of course, this will depend on the company, but in our large enterprise, no one is allowed to use a mobile device unless it's configured by the mobile device group in IT. The techs who need to set this can always find it. It does make it harder for users to access and change which is good for the IT department. They wont get as many calls from users who thought they were smart enough to muck about with it. Others here have expressed similar thoughts here. I think what you consider inconvenient as a tech is actually good business sense for ordinary users.
  • Good Grief Man!!!!

    Slow news day, Huh Ken? Goodness help us if this is all you can see to write about. Your conclusion is asinine and silly in the extreme. I just looked, and VPN is rather conveniently located one lousy click away. To read your nonsense, one would think you had to call apple support to find it. Good Grief man, Apple is in business to make gobs of $$$$$$ and business/enterprise is close to the top of their list if not at the your article is just silliness and lots of other adjectives which I won't use. Perhaps you need to find something relevant to blog about.

    Cheers! (and better luck next time!)
    Paul Benoit