I know you can update apps by 1. downloading the app updates in itunes and then 2. Re-importing them into the Configurator (it will ask you if you want to replace the older app version with the new one.) I was able to update apps this way. I don't know if there is a wireless way to do this with iPads set up using the Configurator though.
Since originally posting this, I've learned the answer to my own question.
The devices must either be synced over the wire with the PC that pushed the app out from the Apple Configurator or the user must know the password for the Apple ID that you deployed the apps with so that they may manually update it.
Neither is a great solution for me as i suspect it's probably not for you either.
Did you use Configurator just to Prepare or to Supervise? If Supervise you will need to physically attach update apps. If just used to prepare the users can update apps but they will need the AppleID and password that initially purchased the app. Many time app updates come along that are nonessential, the app works fine without them so there is no need to apply the updates everytime one comes along. You may want to have them shipped back over vacations etc, no need for constant updating.
I am not Supervising, just using it to Prepare. Not knowing what to expect, I downloaded the apps using my Apple ID, and I am not willing to give my password out.
I will just send an email to the users to let them know that any app that was added by me will need to be deleted and purchased by them.
We are looking at a 1:1 using iPads, and this is just one more reason that I am having second thoughts about using an IOS device.
I know this post/thread is a few months old but wanted to hear any updates or others' input. I work for an academic institution and I too recently deployed 50+ iPads to some of our faculty as a non-supervised device. I want them to be able to treat it as their own, but we had a number of Apps we wanted to give them using VPP codes.
Anyway, all went as expected and I used Apple Configurator to preload a bunch of additional apps (both free and the paid/purchased with VPP) onto the iPads. As this thread describes, a few days later, when one of the pre-loaded apps came out with an update, my users found that they couldn't update those apps (free or purchased). Anything I installed with Apple Configurator is locked to the institutional Apple ID I installed it with. To make it worse, the end-users are all prompted to enter the password for our institutional Apple ID EVERY TIME they click on update all apps, even if they have installed apps with their personal Apple IDs. As you can imagine, this has caused some confusion and lots of people attempting to change passwords etc.
Basically, I'm trying to figure out what to do? Apple Configurator works fine to "image" the iPad, except anything it installs is locked down. I cannot give out the password to the institutional account, and regardless that is a poor workaround. I have updated a number of people's iPads using the previously discussed method of updating the apps on the Apple Configurator computer, then plugging the iPads back into it. Again, this requires me to be in charge of updating every iPad (and physically touch each one again), an inconvenience with 50, but we're looking to possibly expand this to 400+. I also understand that many times the smaller App updates are non-essential, however, it still prompts the user every time to update it and it will show up in the App Store as needing an update.
What about email distribution (email the VPP redemption codes)? This gives people the Apps we want to buy for them, but requires a lot of end-user work to prepare their devices (redeeming each code), I just don't find it as slick as getting an iPad with everything on it. Not to mention we then lose control of the codes if they ever accidentally wipe it (vs just plugging it back into Apple Configurator).
Sorry for the length, but I'd love to hear any comments on this as we love the iPads, but this issue is rather frustrating to both the administrative side, and the end users. Thanks!
Apple Configurator is really designed for lab/classroom deployments where everything goes back to a cart at the end of the period or day. It does ok for initial device prep when used in a deployment scenario such as yours. You really need to a look at an enterprise MDM solution, especially if you are going to go up to 400 plus devices. With a good MDM you can load the VPP codes and the user can install over the air based on a prompt. A good interim step might be to look at Profile Manager in Mountain Lion server, or at one of the free MDMs at http://www.simplemdm.com/ and www.meraki.com. With Meraki you can deploy VPP codes. See also http://www.enterpriseios.com/. In summary, IOS devices are a pain to manage and these tools just mitigate some of the suffering.
While it is unfortunate, it does appear that Apple Configurator likely isn't the correct tool for us, especially in the future...
We run a pretty extensive managed Mac setup here using an AD/OD golden triangle with Workgroup Manager. I actually just (finally) migrated our OS X Server to Lion a couple weeks ago, and after making sure everything was fine in OD and WGM, started looking at the new Profile Manager since it appears Mountain Lion Server will do away with WGM all together (that's for another year...). I will admit, I hadn't thought of that angle for iOS yet. Can/how does Profile Manager deal with Apps? Unfortunately, while I was playing with Profile Manager last week I ran into major certificate issues when I try and enroll devices into it, and after many frustrating hours, I "back-burnered" it for a few days. Looks like I may need to try and get that more operational now (that'll be another discussion I'm sure...) and look at MDM with it.
Meraki looks very interesting, I will certainly be looking at that, but if I should be doing it all internally with Profile Manager(?), I don't mind that route (once I get the thing working properly). Do these free services do anything "better" than say Profile Manager would? I really don't want to go with one solution only to have to migrate everything (into say Profile Manager) in a year or two. I have a feeling that will be the future of all of us who have large WGM setups right now....
I would not bet too heavily on a free service but using it to get started as a bridge solution
and to see what an MDM can do is a good approach. I have found Meraki to be very user friendly and it does not take long to get started. I just got Mountain Lion Server last week and have not had time to see what it can do for me. Meraki does a better job of deploying VPP ota and app inventory etc.. but that was with the previous Profile Manager. If you are having certificate problems it is often easier to buy a commercial ssl certificate, they can be found for less than $20 per year. If you are an Apple shop you should look at JAMF Caspar suite.