iPads not working for the Police, and I suspect I know why



At the start of the roll-out the police said an 11-month trial had shown Apple’s iPads and iPhones were the best fit for officers.

But Labour Party police spokesperson Kelvin Davis said the move to start replacing more than 4000 iPads suggests otherwise.

“We’re not privy to what the challenges and the problems were, and it makes you wonder what sort of due diligence went into the acquiring of the iPads and iPhones in the first place,” Mr Davis said.

Mr Davis said a heavily blacked-out police document, which the Labour Party received, suggested there had been multiple problems with their Apple technology.

And he was worried about the cost to taxpayers.

“I’d hate to think that in another 18 months to two years that they’re saying ‘look, there’s another problem’ and that they need to spend another four or five million, so I hope they get it right this time.”

Now, I don’t have access to the heavily blacked-0ut police document, but I have had direct feedback from other organisations that have tried to implement large scale iPad solutions.

The iPads themselves are fine, but where things fall apart is license management and central/remote admin.

Turns out iPads are great for Grandma, swell for the kids, and anyone else who is essentially just running one for personal use.   But to control the licensing for large clients such as the Police, Apple have had nothing but unreliable, buggy and totally unacceptable solutions.

I know of organisations that are now phasing iPads out in favour of Android tablets after several years of beating their heads against a wall with Apple not really being very responsive to the needs of large customers, and the central licensing software continues to throw up problems.

This doesn’t even cover the difficulty of physically managing the roll-out and upgrade of iPads.  They have to be physically returned so they can be hard wired to the licensing server.

Just the turn-over in staff and change of positions within the organisation causes different permissions and software license requirements.  You would not believe the drama of reflecting natural organisational changes with the Apple management tools.

In short, it’s an embarrassing debacle that somehow is being kept under wraps because those who went all out with PR releases on iPad solutions don’t want to share the public embarrassment that Apples failures have caused.

Looks like Kelvin’s got this issue by the short and curlies.  The Police Minister is in for a rough ride on this as high hopes have come to nothing.




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  • Reid

    Who was the Minister who signed off on this?

    • Donald

      Please tell me it was the same Anne Tolley who signed off on Novopay.

      • Nige.

        novopay was set up/brought in under the clark government. same as the bmw government cars.

        • Donald

          Damn – it was too perfect a prospect

    • The problem is that ministers can only go on the advice that they receive and if that advise is dud then a dud decision gets made…the minister gets pilloried and the consultant who made the recommendation is now with a different department charging $800 per hour for his sage advice.

      • williamabong

        Sadly right, and the other sad thing is the senior public servants responsible for the debacles never seem to get covered when the brown stuff hits the rotating thing.

      • Je Suis Charlie – Respect!!

        Yep just like the 100+ LAV3’s the army got. They wanted 50 but doubled their order knowing/expecting it would be cut in half.

        But it didnt get cut because their people did too good a job of selling their requirements to their minister and consequently had a pile of barely used vehicles in mothballs. The ministers got the hard questions back then I believe as well.

  • Have tried em all, iPhone, iPad and Apple Mac. In the end agree totally with Cam. I-anything has great graphics, games and fun stuff but Android beats i hands down in terms of flexibility, ease of use and variety of business functions. I think i is a product of superb marketing, near religious devotion among younger followers coupled with often mediocre service for business applications.

    I now use BlackBerry Z10 for my phone as it’s very secure and has ample business apps , Android tablet and MS computer. They all happily talk with each other and I never have problems.

    • Mayan

      Having tried iPhone and Android, I’ve ended up getting a Blackberry Passport. If you use a phone for work and need something that helps you do that without getting in your way, it seems to be the best choice.

  • jay

    I’m pretty sure police used their allocated budget and weren’t given any extra money for this. It’s conceivable that the police minister didn’t have to sign off on it in the first place.

  • Orange

    Also throw another problem into the mix: video off the latest apple tablets and iphones causes any windows 8.1 pc to have constipations if you just move the mouse over the file icon. The meta data they are now putting into the .mov files kills windows media player and file explorer. Have fun recording evidence with that.

  • Wallace Westland

    The Ipad rocks in a lot of areas of functionality, such as battery life and ease of use in the field, our business has them. ( Against all advice from our client and IT people)
    However they are virtually useless in practical terms for all of the reasons set out above. As our client had already identified.
    We are currently in the process of having new software developed and it will be android based for use in the field.
    However we are still waiting for a tablet that can actually last 8 to 12 hours with its brightness on full while running large programs.
    Something an Ipad can do.

  • willtin

    Why do individual officers need instant, independent, computers to carry around?
    I say bring back the note-book – or can’t the new generation write?

    • Johnny Bravo

      Because a notebook can’t tell you if a person is wanted or show you a photo of the person you are talking to/checking

  • JMC7

    Sorry, but is this actually correct? Apple don’t write all that many apps themselves, so I’m assuming the apps mentioned in the article are ones created specifically by third parties for this purpose. Apple’s function is to curate the ones that get submitted to ensure they don’t breach any of the guidelines. It’s hardly their fault if the apps aren’t fit for the purpose the Police are choosing is it?
    Second, Apple have a volume purchasing program with a dedicated VPP store specifically for enterprise-size customers. It works well. The licensing has nothing to do with whether the apps themselves are buggy or unreliable; the Police should be talking to the developers.
    Third, there is no reason at all why the iPads need to be hard wired to servers for anything. There are any number of mobile device management solutions available from 3rd parties that can be installed on servers and used to wirelessly, remotely roll out and upgrade iPads and iPhones from central servers using the push notification service. All that’s needed is an SSL certificate. The Police can get an SSL certificate from Apple very easily.
    Organisations around the world substantially bigger than the NZPS do this every day. Why is this problem Apple’s exactly?

    • johcar

      “app developers are helping police with their enquiries”…

  • caochladh

    In 2013, the Pentagon approved iPad and iPhone for Military use, so why are our police having an issue, or as usual have they been “modified for NZ conditions”.

    • mike

      In 2014 they moved to Android to both replace Blackberry’s and for use with their Net Warrior program.

      Android has advantages as it’s open source and you can create your own programs… and the hardware is also cheaper.


    • oldmanNZ

      old artical, US military just order 7000 samsung note:2 in Feb.2014.

      to replace the old BB.

      • caochladh

        Perhaps they are using a variety of devices, because as of today “The United States Army Center for Initial Military Training (USACIMT) has listed some suggested Military Apps for iPad/iPhones and Android devices that will assist USACIMT Soldiers.”

  • GMAK

    Be Careful, this may be seen as blasphamy against those who hold belief in apple. Apple believers are well known for being fantical extremists and my incite a jihad against WO
    i am typing this on an ipad……..but I am a moderate, not a true believer in the cause of Apple word domination.

    • Goldfish

      So Apple is a religion of peace?

    • Tom

      So you don’t have a checkered shirt and roman sandals ?

  • muzza2

    i think i read somewhere that apple and ibm are working to make suitable programs
    to move into the business world……

  • Andy111A

    Cam your a long way off on your analysis of the situation.

    – License management
    The Police use VPP (Volume Purchase Program) Basically they can purchase an App and assign it to all the thousands of devices they own. When the devices next connect to the internet the App is automatically pushed down to the device.

    – Physical Return
    The first time the Police iPad was setup it was physically connected and enrolled into MDM. At no stage after this does it ever need to be plugged back in. All settings can be remotely sent to the device including Apps. (With new devices they have access to DEP Device Enrolment Program, the devices are enrolled with Apple and when you turn them on for the first time they join the MDM without needing to be plugged in)

    Basically if your setup is run properly from the start none of the issues you mention above apply.

    Have a read directly from Apple for more info:

    The issue is around the cops having to carry an iPad and iPhone. With the iPhone 6+ they have the ability to carry a phone with a large enough screen. The iPads will slowly be phased out as they only need the one device.

  • HSV325

    iPads are great for email, viewing PDFS,s and surfing the net. We trialled iPad and windows tablet and hands down the boys prefered the windows tablet as easy access to files etc.


    Je suis Apple

  • IanGreg

    I doubt very much whether you’d have many on the front line in South Auckland agree with your sentiment (and feel free to take that as, I’ve got a half dozen mates who’re cops and being a nerd the subject of tech comes up fairly frequently…. I can’t recall any negative comments, but have heard the technology described as a game changer on many an occasion).

  • Bryan

    simple they have had them 2 years and tech has moved on to smarter easier quicker action remember folks 1 week in IT is a long time what is the best today can be blown out of the water by a new chip coming out that does 1000 times faster than last weeks and i saw that happen so many times over my 25 years selling computers that is the facts of that industry, and now the police have been using them for two years they are seeing and wanting a more compact yet faster unit, just like we do in all our company officers as they seeing the difference being able to check data on the hoof, and deal with the issue once.and probally also the potential for a lot more police uses that they originally though about it and thats good, thats progress.

  • WallyAnchor

    “And he was worried about the cost to taxpayers.” – Riiiight. Since when have Labour worried about spending taxpayer money?