How and when to set up Apple TV with a work account

Apple generally designs its devices, including the Apple TV, with ease of installation in mind. However, it remains to be ensured that administrators have the right configurations according to the desired use case.

This requires careful consideration of the type of account to use during the device enrollment process and how to deploy and administer Apple TV.

The setup process

The process used to set up an Apple TV varies depending on the age of the device. For current generation devices, the process begins with plugging in the power cable and connecting to the display device via an HDMI cable. Once the Apple TV box is powered on, the administrator enters the device setup process.

The first step is to pair the TV remote with the device. The admin should simultaneously press and hold the volume up and back buttons on the remote. Older versions of Apple TV use the menu and volume up buttons for this process.

Once the remote is paired, the system prompts you to choose language and geographic region and to accept a data usage and privacy policy.

At this point, the Apple TV will jump to a screen that asks if you want to set up the device automatically using an iPhone or do it manually. The Set up with iPhone option will prompt to pair the Apple TV with the selected iPhone. As soon as the two devices are paired, Apple TV will automatically adapt to the settings and configurations of the iPhone.

As convenient as this automatic setup might be, it’s usually not the best way to set up an Apple TV device in a business environment. In effect, the TV will inherit the settings used on the iPhone, which may include many personal settings that IT will need to manually find and change.

Most companies are better off doing a manual setup, which involves connecting the device to a Wi-Fi network and specifying the Apple ID for the Apple TV to use.

Here are the three main options for providing an Apple ID:

  • Configure the device to use one or more personal Apple IDs.
  • Connect Apple TV to a managed work account.
  • Choose not to use an account at all. This option depends on the age of the device.

Using a personal account

Although the administrator can configure an Apple TV to use their personal Apple ID, this is generally a bad choice if the Apple TV device is intended for multiple users. Anyone using the device can potentially see the Apple ID owner’s personal data, browsing history, apps, and more.

Apple TV, however, supports the use of multiple user profiles. Therefore, if only a small number of users need to use Apple TV, the administrator can set up a separate user profile for each user. This means that each user must sign in using their Apple ID rather than a shared personal ID. This requires switching between profiles regularly, but it’s a viable approach if good end-user practices are followed.

Using a Professional Account

The second option is to use an Apple TV business account. Just as an administrator on a Windows network can create user accounts in the organization’s Active Directory domain, Apple allows organizations to create managed accounts for business purposes. These accounts are basically Apple IDs associated with the company domain.

The main advantage of this approach is that it allows administrators to manage Apple TV and other Apple devices centrally. Organizations can use Apple Configurator 2 or Apple Business Manager to configure devices based on organizational policies. For example, if the organization has multiple Apple TVs, the administrator can ensure that they all use the same configuration.

But Apple disables some services when users sign in to a device using a Managed Apple ID. This is true for iPads, iOS devices, and macOS devices as well. The listing Apple’s public service disabled with a Managed Apple ID does not include any restrictions on Apple TV, but there may be lesser-known feature restrictions. Companies will therefore need to ensure that the use of a managed identifier does not prevent them from accessing services important to their business objectives.

Setup without Apple ID

It is also possible to manually set up an Apple TV without an Apple ID. The company can then use the device in Conference Room mode, which allows users to connect their devices to the TV using Apple AirPlay. Newer Apple TV devices support AirPlay through the conference room display options in Settings.

Share an Apple TV between multiple users

Apple makes it possible to centrally provision and administer Apple TVs in a business environment. Best practices suggest that this kind of centralized management should align with any other enterprise-wide device administration policy.

However, small workgroups that share an Apple TV device may find it preferable for each user to have their own profile rather than sharing a single profile tied to a single Managed Apple ID.

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