A sneaky peak at the new Jamf Self Service

Jamf snuck a preview of a newly-designed Self Service into last week's JNUC Keynote with some noticeable Microsoft vibes.

Last week's virtual JNUC certainly made me missing the real-life JNUCs of the past. It would have been odd enough to have been somewhere other than Minneapolis, but this year it was held nowhere and everywhere. A Virtual Conference. It was certainly an… experience.

Don't take this the wrong way. I am so happy that JNUC happened this year, and I was impressed by what they were able to pull off in just a few months. However, during the keynote Jamf traded fighting venue wifi with fighting a clunky web interface, and traded in a keynote that highlighted new product features and upcoming releases with one that focused on case studies and a sales pitch from Microsoft (🤢). I get it; ventures like this take a lot of work and support from partners. But merely tucked into an overview of what Jamf Connect can do alongside Microsoft Endpoint Manager (formerly Intune) was a quick peak at a redesigned Self Service application. In the past that would have been enough to get a product talk from a developer at Jamf. But hey, at least we got to see something new.

A mockup of a MacBook Air with the Self Service application open on the landing screen. (Source: Jamf)

At first glance the main change is moving all of the navigation to the left sidebar, removing the somewhat clunky Home/Activity/Notification buttons and relocating them under left-hand navigation. 

Browsing all of the available apps in the Self Service application. (Source: Jamf)

Clicking on Browse expands the Self Service categories that you can currently see in the left-hand navigation of the Self Service app. If you're using the Jamf Connect/Passwordless workflow it looks like authorization is passed into the Self Service app. I'd imagine for those not using that functionality the username displayed in the lower left corner would be replaced with 'Log in'.

During the keynote it's mentioned that this new version of Self Service will come "in a future release of Jamf Pro." If you want to be one of the first people to get your hands on new versions of Jamf Pro to evaluate new features like an updated Self Service make sure to sign up for their ongoing beta program.

Installing the Outlook app from the Self Service app. (Source: Jamf)

My gut reaction is, wow, this looks a whole lot like Software Center for Windows. In SCCM, for those unfamiliar, all navigation is in the left sidebar with options such as "Applications," "Updates," and "Installation Status." Throw the Device Compliance stuff in there for Microsoft's Endpoint Manager (Intune) and you might think the two apps were designed by the same team. 

Screenshot of SCCM Software Center. (Source: University of Vermont)

As Jamf digs deeper and deeper into Microsoft integrations through their partnership with Microsoft I can't say I find these choices surprising. But it does feel a bit less Apple than previous releases which is a little off-putting (e.g., not using the native OS font and sizing). If they were going for more of the browsing/navigation style of Big Sur I'd imagine the corners would be more rounded and the navigation sidebar would be translucent. We'll have to wait and see what it ends up looking like on Big Sur once both are released to the public. I have to say, though, that moving navigation to the left sidebar seems like an improvement for accessibility and those that use screen readers and other accessibility tools to navigate application and OS interfaces when using their Mac.

It'll be interesting to see what comes of the new app design. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on it.

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