Apple ‘currently investigating’ iOS multi-user support

“Apple has signaled that it is aware of a desire to support multiple users on one iPad, and that the issue is ‘currently being investigated’ by the company’s engineering team,” Neil Hughes reports for AppleInsider.

“The developer reached out to AppleInsider after they received a reply from Apple after submitting a bug report,” Hughes reports. “Apple’s Bug Reporter includes an option to specify that a submission isn’t a bug report, but rather a suggestion.”

Hughes reports, “In the suggestion submitted to Apple, the developer simply requested that the company add support for multiple users to the iPad. ‘After further investigation it has been determined that this is a known issue, which is currently being investigated by engineering,’ the official response from Apple Developer Connection’s Worldwide Developer Relations team reads.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Standard form response. Apple could be doing anything from dispatching a high-level team to work on it overnight to filing it in the circular file and you’d get back the same response.

That said, it would be relatively trivial to bring at least Fast User Switching over to iOS from OS X. That Apple hasn’t done so long ago suggests to us that they’d rather sell an iPad to every family member than a single iPad per family.

If we’re right about why iOS still doesn’t have multi-user support, then Apple’s wrong.

Not only are they failing to “delight customers,” but they are failing to realize that it won’t impinge iPad sales, but enhance them. Enabling multi-user support, makes the iPad even more attractive to families and, once families get their first iPad, they quickly realize that they need more than one. One iPad, even between only two people, just isn’t enough.

Enabling multi-user support will actually end up selling more iPads. So, get on the ball, Apple. Enable multi-user support in iOS already!

(If it’s a storage space issue, make the feature available as “dual-user” on 32 GB iPads and “up to four users” on 64GB models. That’d give more incentive to buy more spacious and higher priced models and, since Apple already sells a 16GB model, they tacitly endorse 16GB as the base requirement for an iPad user.)

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

33 Comments

    1. Agreed. I have learning apps and games on my kids’ iPods, but when it’s “learning time” I don’t want them playing games! I’ve been hoping for this functionality for a LONG time.

  1. I’d be delighted if they gave us printer support, without having to buy some HP device or use some kludge requiring your Mac to be running. Even providing it through their own TimeCapsule or AirPort print-server capabilities would be great. Even better, BlueTooth printing, just like my MacBook.

      1. Canon is starting to add printers for use with their app, but they all require WiFi enabled printers. Mine, which is solid as a rock, is BlueTooth. I’m thinking until Apple allows BT printing, I am out of luck. I could hardwire it to a WiFi print-server, like an AirPort, but I’m not seeing that, so far.

  2. I think MDN is wrong. Apple is relying on the additional incentive of, “THAT STUPID BROTHER OF MINE JUST DELETED ALL OF MY ANGRY BIRDS HIGH SCORES! I’M GONNA KILL HIM!!”, to sell more iPads. With multi-user logins that won’t happen. Things will be limited to the much more manageable current, “MY BROTHER WON’T LET ME USE THE IPAD!”, incentive.

    1. Or it will devolve into “my stupid brother loaded the iPad full of music, photos and music and now there is not enough room for mine”

      It is not meant to be a multiuser device. Don’t be in such a hurry to see MacBooks disappear. They need higher capacity storage, and they need a better file manager concept before multi-user.

  3. All of these things especially print support take up space on the small amount of storage. Printer drivers and user profiles along with fonts and more complex setup requirements.

    Not against it just can understand why it doesn’t take priority over the storage requirements for the retina display.

  4. Multi user support makes iOS more complicated to use for the common user, so the question arises: Is it worth it? Maybe Apple made a conscious decision not to have it, just like iOS doesn’t feature overlapping windows. One device, one identity, one app at a time.

    1. Multi-user support for the iPhone would be great for my business. We have ‘crew’ phones which are held by whoever ends up as a leading hand on a given day.
      It would be great if I could simply set up restricted user accounts for each staff member on each phone with an ‘Admin’ account for device management.

  5. Let’s hope it’s not the same team that has been “investigating” the iTunes [Mis]Match that has been ongoing since it launched in November.

    Apple has been slowly going down the tubes since Jobs died….very sad. 🙁

    1. I don’t think Apple is going down the tubes.

      I do agree about Match, though. Lala never worked well for me. I have a ton of free music from mp3.com, before they shut-down, and Lala matched most of it up with stuff I’d never heard-of.

  6. A good compromise… each use has a login password. The user space wouldn’t necessarily change, but you could assign “account” specific restrictions or default email settings. This would require very little extra space.

  7. Yeah, I’m with you on that one. I use Printopia and Eurosmartz’s fine products. But the process is still a bitt silly and I’d love to see the process streamlined. Bottom line, though, the printer has to be connected to a network somehow – whether wirelessly, hard wired, or via a computer connected to the network.

    1. Agreed!
      All I use are Apple equipment in my company.
      I want to use an iPads in service vehicles. Take payments and print receipts. I currently use Canon printers with an Apple laptop. It is an office AIO so I power it with a small inverter. This arrangement has worked great for over 8 years.
      I was going to put Printopia on a G4 Powerbook and leave that always on and to host the printer. Trouble here is the laptop will go to sleep when the lid closes. The whole point is to not have laptop always open on the seat. Keep it awake display off, closed, under the seat always powered with the adapter printer plugged in to USB.
      Then I decided to just get an Epson Airprint compatible printer. As I under stand it does not need a computer as a host. Bonlour will take care of the connection. I am guessing WiFi is built in. So that would have been great! Problem solved!
      Then another issue with an Apple product in this potential new arrangement. I use Filemaker Pro 10 and Filemaker Go for iPad. It is now Filemaker that is going to grind this whole arrangement to a halt.
      Now I think the iPad is going to go. The problem is that FM GO on the iPad can/will not host a DB for my Mac.
      I actually tried to upgrade to FM Pro12 today. The FM site crapped out on the purchase, support put me on ignore, but I am convinced I would have had “Peggy” as the support rep. So I hung up. Good thing! That is how I found out about the hosting issue. More $$ lost.

      So now it looks like the iPad will be history and It will be an 11′ MBA which should support the printer I think.

      I guess the point is why is Apple making this situation regarding this basic function such a pain in the ass?

      They will lose some IOS device sales as well as Filemaker sales. No need to upgrade now.
      Maybe alot… maybe not. I do know it will be a few thousand dollars in equipment and SW lost from my company.

      It just seems pretty weak for the “It Just Works” company.

  8. Maybe not a full multi-user mode, but a “guest” mode might be a good compromise, where you can define which apps a guest can use. Guest mode would also hide personal info in apps like Safari (bookmarks, history, autofill), and prevent guests from sending/posting stuff from Messages, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

    1. I Strongly support the guest account. Just like on the OSX. It would erase all the information of the guest.
      That would clear my mind of any thought of personal information, text, and documents.
      Add “Guest” and life will be grand. Well, at least it would be a great start.

  9. I take issue with the MDN take here. There is no evidence to support the motive assumed here and, in the absence of such evidence, and in light of Apple’s track record of providing the solutions its customers want, it would be more sensible to avoid making dark allegations about the company. Apple essentially created this market, so there was little evidence, before release, to indicate how people would use the iPad. IOS for IPad 1, being a first-release product, was kept fairly simple. Additional features have been added in every subsequent release, as was the case for iPhone. Every new functionality suggested by users or the development team will be assigned a priority and weighed against issues such as complexity and performance, as well as storage requirements. Multiple users means separate storage for individual requirements; a larger and more complex OS with, perhaps, some performance implications. Currently Apple is still supporting iPad 1 with new versions of IOS, so all functionality added to IOS has to be considered in the context of the slower processor in that device. I am sure multi-user will come, but we do not know what other functionality Apple has planned, so how can we assume a motive to Apple for the non-delivery of this specific functionality to date? I would think that most iPads are personal devices given the surveys which suggest that most iPads are purchased by young adults. MDN can afford to be generous here, and should be.

    1. Dear Sunbeamraper,

      First, Use paragraphs. Otherwise no one will read your rants.

      Second, What? Do you live alone with your cats? Anyone in a family of more than one person has thought since their Day 2 with an iPad that multi-user support would be huge.

      Third, Are you insane? Of course they don’t have multi-user because they want the iPad to be an individual device like the iPhone. They want to sell one iPad per person. I didn’t even figure this out myself. The monkey my neighbors keep explained it to me.

      Fourth, Good day sir.

    2. “in light of Apple’s track record of providing the solutions its customers want…”
      I’d argue that Apple has never done this. If this was true, we would have had two-button mouse for Macs fairly quickly (just one example). It’s always been Apple way or the highway…

  10. Multi-user accounts on the hardware might be nice, but might be hard for some.
    What I really want is to be able to share apps and music (iTunes purchases) with the family. And yet– not be inundated with dumb kid games and crappy music beamed from iCloud. Isn’t there a middle ground in sharing between total stranger (pirate) and just me?

  11. Our children use all of our Macs using a different user account from us. II don’t want them messing with my business emails, confidential client databases and financial accounts.

    I have not bought an iPad precisely because of the lack of multi user support. There’s no point in buying one if I don’t use it for business, but no way I would let the children use it if those confidential files were available to them.

    1. What kind of children are you raising?

      I have a “business” iPad and I allow my kids to use it all the time.

      I set ground rules:

      1. You can use Safari and the Apps in your folders (each have a folder/s with their name containing the apps they wanted.

      2. You can use the apps in entertainment folder (netflix, cable company app/etc)

      3. You are NOT allowed to mess with anything else. I do allow them to use the app store to find apps, but I review the app with them and decide if it is downloaded.

      4. NO NOTIFICATIONS from YOUR apps allowed.

      This all works fine and I have had ZERO issues. There are more than 100 games, but they are tidy and in folders.

      I guess I just have good kids?? I don’t get all the worry. If you cannot trust someone to follow your wishes with your gear, don’t let em touch it. EVER.

  12. It is not trivial. Will Apps have their files in their own Documents directory. Now you need to have a user directory within the app documents directory. What about deleting apps? Installing apps? Spotlight. AddressBook API per user, etc etc. iCloud backups? Multiple AppleIds on one device? So no shared apps? Part of iCloud is paid by the hardware, how many backup sets will be allowed? 5GB per device, per AppleID?

    You could argue that the Mac already has it, so it should be simple. All the issues I mention are fixable, but it isn’t as simple as just user switching. It shouldn’t complicate the device, because then it won’t delight users.

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