In March of 2017, Apple released (with little fanfare) an article on tethering your iOS mobile device to your Mac computer. This now enables the ability to bring Ethernet speed to the iOS device and cache previous downloads to your Mac without having to buy external adapters to run Ethernet on an iPad.
(See Apple Discussion article https://discussions.apple.com/thread/7794507?start=0&tstart=0)
The steps are straight forward to get to get tethered caching to run and you can reference the tech article here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT207523
We found that USB 3.0 hubs are wicked fast. Very comparable to running ethernet directly to iPad using the camera kit and USB ethernet adapters. We found on amazon.com, an Anker 7 port USB 3.0 hub for $30.99 and used this as our trial. Much cheaper than buying one camera kit ($39.00) and one USB ethernet adapter ($29.00).
We took 8 iPads and benched them with an iOS 10.3.3 update and 8.41 Gb of Apps. The initial process took 11 minutes to restore/update the iPads to 10.3.3 using the USB hub, tethered caching and Apple Configurator 2. This is pretty standard as Configurator 2 does most of the caching already and is reliant on the speed of the hub to transmit the data.
- Pro Tip – We wipe our devices straight out of the box and restore/update to latest iOS. All iPads come preloaded with iWork/iLife suite apps but require a user to enter an AppleID to use the apps. Wiping them, using MDM to re-install iWork/iLife apps via “device assigned management” then allows users to use the apps without having to utilize an AppleID.
We then deployed our 8.41 Gb Core Apps package to the 8 iPads. We utilize Airwatch for our 1:1 environment and part of the bench test was to measure time to pre-stage our enrollments and load the app package. There is a plus/minus variant for human error entering credentials to pre-stage users. The total process took us 8 minutes to pre-stage and load apps. This is much more efficient and cost effective against the ethernet model brought to the table last year.
- There are many variations of USB has out there. The ones we purchased did not provide charging while syncing. Apple ships iPads out with 60%-70% battery life (or at least it seems that way by the time we get our hands on them). Getting the devices ready for students means we need to be able to charge them up a bit more before we send them out.
- After a few runs, you start to see performance drag on the tethering. We opened up network preferences and noticed several previous iPad network connections. Deleting the old connections restored the performance considerably.
* Pro Tip – Apple recommends this step to decrease the bog down on your machine after about 60 devices:
delete these files and reboot.
Final Tip: To view the content cached on your device to see how it’s running
CD to /Library/Caches
Use command: sudo du -hs *
This will list the content being cached on your device.
Now to buy a bigger hub that supports more iPads and charging while it syncs.