Loan me your phone. I am off to China.

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The question?

What would your response be if a colleague told you, they were going to China for a week on business, and then asked for a loan of your phone.

For me it would fall into 2 camps:

  • Camp 1: If it was my phone I might suggest, (strenuously), that they seek a phone elsewhere
  • Camp2: If it was a work phone I would suck my teeth for a bit, take out the “strenuously” and still suggest that they look elsewhere for a phone.

Why the unkind response?

The simple reason for this rather unkind response is that most of us eat sleep and breath our phones. They have become integral to most of our daily activities and they also store a lot of personal data on them. I would probably loan you my car rather than hand over my phone.

This is relevant to tablets as they also fall into 2 camps:

  • Tablet Camp 1: Computers used for everyday activities such as email, notes, reading documents, website surfing etc… We will call these “Personal Tablets
  • Tablet Camp 2: Computers used for a single purpose such as providing an electronic brochure or kiosk at a trade show. These will have no personal data on them and will probably be wiped after every use. We will call the “Throwaway Tablets

Personal Tablets are effectively large phones without the phone functionality for most of us.

Personal Tablets

Personal Tablets become personalised incredibly fast. Without ever using them for non work or dubious purposes they still accrue information about us.

  • Confidential or sensitive emails
  • Applications that login automatically and give complete access to all your work related data
  • Stored or even cached Documents
  • Identity (if I am logged into your Ipad I can probably pretend to be you in a broad range of Digital ways)
  • Push Notifications
  • And many other subtle ways

So… If I gave you an Ipad to use as your personal computer for a month would you happily hand it and the password to a colleague.  Probably not. I have wiped mine twice for other teams to use at events. I help them set it up and then I rebuild/restore it afterward.

I have not done anything dodgy but my wife emailed me funny Halloween pictures of the family and I also have test results from piloting online tablet forms at an event. Once you have the password then you have access to my iCloud email.

Yes security can tighten almost everything up but it is the thing that you forgot to secure that will always trip you up.

Throwaway Tablets

These are much simpler. They are used for a single purpose and then have their data wiped afterwards. They probably do not even need the apps and login details wiped as they don’t have anything personal on them.

These would be the sort of tablets that an Events or Trade Mission team might take to an event and have on the stand. They would display brochures and presentations and might have some useful interactive app on them. What they will never do is pop up a reminder to buy milk on the way home or the latest crude joke that is going round the office. No customer is going to find an email with sensitive commercial info on it or post on Twitter as you, just for a laugh….


How we view tablet computers is maturing. How we manage them is also developing.

In broad terms they are no longer toys/gadgets and are now useful tools to help us do our jobs. Because of that we have to view personal laptops in the same way as our phones or laptops.

Tablets used in Customer facing roles are not Personal Tablets. They are clean machines that fulfil a defined role and have nothing else on them.



2 Replies to “Loan me your phone. I am off to China.”

  1. You can use Apple Configurator to manage ‘throwaway’ iPads fairly painlessly.

    Prepare devices
    • Configure multiple devices simultaneously
    • Update devices to the latest version of iOS
    • Create and restore a backup of settings and app data from one device to other devices
    • Import apps into Apple Configurator and sync them to new devices*
    • Use the built-in editor to create and install iOS configuration profiles
    • Enroll devices with your Mobile Device Management solution for remote management

    Supervise devices
    • Organize supervised devices into custom groups
    • Automatically apply common configurations to supervised devices
    • Quickly reapply a configuration to a supervised device and remove the previous user’s data
    • Import apps into Apple Configurator and sync them to supervised devices*
    • Define and apply common or sequential names to all devices
    • Restrict supervised devices from syncing with other computers

    Assign devices
    •Add users and groups manually or autopopulate via Open Directory or Active Directory
    • Check out a device to a user and restore the user’s settings and data on that device
    •Check in a device from a user and and back up the data for later use, possibly on a different device
    • Apply custom text, wallpaper, or the user’s picture to a device’s Lock screen
    • Import and export documents between your Mac and Apple Configurator
    • Sync documents between assigned devices and Apple Configurator

    Not sure if there’s any equivalent for Android.

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