The reason Apple doesn't offer multiple user accounts on iOS

The reason Apple doesn't offer multiple user accounts on iOS

Summary: I've been asking for multiple user accounts on iOS for a while and sadly, it doesn't look like the feature is coming to iOS 7. There's a strong incentive for Apple not to add the feature in order to protect its bottom line.

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TOPICS: Apple, Android, Apps, Google, iOS, iPad
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Why Apple doesn't offer multiple user accounts in iOS - Jason O'Grady

In October 2012 Android added the ability to support multiple user accounts in version 4.2 (Jelly Bean) so that multiple users can customize their tablet experience, from lockscreen to wallpaper, apps and folders. It's just common sense that two people sharing a tablet would want to see their own accounts when they look at email and calendars.

Android 4.3 (announced July 24) takes it up a notch with "Restricted profiles for tablets" which can be used to limit access for children (like iOS' Parental Controls feature), but it can also be used for POS terminals and kiosks in retail stores.

Profiles include:

  • Parental controls. Selectively restrict family members from accessing mature content.
  • Kiosk. Set up the tablet to demonstrate selected apps and features to customers.
  • Retail. Let customers explore tablet features, but prevent them from browsing or playing games.
  • Point of sale. Limit employees to the use of selected sales and register apps.

Sadly, multiple user support doesn't appear to be coming in iOS 7, so it could easily be another year (or more) before we see the feature on the iPad. What a shame.

I hate to be a conspiracy theorist but there's only one reason why Apple would deprioritize such a needed feature: it doesn't want family members sharing an iPad because Apple wants you to buy separate iPads for everyone in your household.

Is this Apple's idea of "multiple accounts?"

Update: According to TechCrunch the multiple user accounts feature is only on Android tablets because Nokia patented it for phones.

Topics: Apple, Android, Apps, Google, iOS, iPad

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86 comments
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  • This is so far down the list of things that need to be fixed in ios

    My ipad was useless but that had nothing to do with its lack of support for multiple user accounts or profiles.
    toddbottom3
    • Maybe in your pathetic narrow-minded view of the IT world it is...

      ...but not for many others who would actually find this feature useful.
      IT_Fella
      • I didn't say it wasn't a useful feature

        All I said is that there are far more important things that apple needs to fix first.
        toddbottom3
        • defending an indefensible position

          Your view of what is "far more important" for apple to fix is fine...for you, but since you already pronounced your ipad useless, it seems irrelevant.
          bunkport
          • Oh Toddy!

            Toddy - time for a new ZD handle for this persona - seems everyone thinks you're irrelevant!
            Gr8Music
          • Could Toddy be JO'G?

            He always lands first...
            mattmuir
      • wow

        angry much.
        schultzycom
        • Make no mistake...

          Make no mistake, it's not revenge he's after. It's a butt-hurt whinefest.
          i8thecat4
          • First, your language is offensive.

            Second, the fact that you don't need something != stupid.
            cornpie
          • Re: First, your language is offensive....

            The never ending toddbottom3 CIRCUS continues LOL
            5735guy
    • Just Share?

      not happening in iOS because it's retarded
      warboat
    • unemployed todd

      Is this what unemployed losers do? Troll ZDNet 24 hours a day?
      chadpengar
  • Beautiful

    " According to TechCrunch the multiple user accounts feature is only on Android tablets because Nokia patented it for phones."

    Beautiful... another example of a perfectly obvious technology, with tons and tons and of prior art, that a company managed to patent by adding the words: "on a mobile phone" to.

    Used to be, whenever you wanted to patent something obvious that people have been doing since the dawn of computer time you'd just add the phrase "on a network" to it. Now, I guess it's "on a phone."
    dsf3g
    • same going forward

      Nice comment. I think it'll continue with "in wearable tech" or "in everyday objects", as it may apply to watches, Glass, clothing, or the much wider Internet of Things:
      "on a toaster"
      "on a refrigerator"
      "on a toilet"
      "on a postal mailbox"
      "on a road"
      "on a utility pole"
      "on a brick"
      "on a tattoo"
      "on a bionic implant"
      "on the inside of your eyelid"
      You're right, it's still the same original action or functionality. The device itself will be less important as we reach ubiquity of connected devices.
      Solenoid
    • like Ford/Microsoft have patented evrything computer "in a car". disgusting

      that severly broken system of software patents needs to be scrapped.
      Stop the Madness.

      .
      wessonjoe
    • Can't imagine that this patent would hold up in court

      User accounts have existed since the 1960s. The only difference between a phone and a mainframe is size. If this patent were challenged there is very little chance that it would hold up. I expect that the reason it hasn't been challenged yet is that there is very little reason to support multiple users on a phone. A phone is much more intimate than a tablet. A simple analogy is that a phone is like your underwear, a tablet is like a sweater. Nobody would share there underwear, everybody shares sweaters. More to the point a phone is on your pocket or purse every waking hour of the day, whereas a tablet sits on a table somewhere until you pick it up to perform some specific task. As such a phone is pretty much unshareable whereas a tablet is a naturally shared device.
      bjrosen@...
      • Agreed , bad patent law

        What kind of patent can be so general that it's applied this way? What happens if an OS becomes device agnostic, one super OS that runs on desktop, laptop, tablet, TV, phone, fridge, etc? Would the patent force a disabling of features because a company has a lock on the device type?
        joetaxpayer
        • And of corse that's what Linux is

          Android is a Linux distribution and it gets it's user management and security from Linux, only the user interface to manage the user accounts is Android specific, the actual implementation of user accounts is in the Linux kernel and it's been there from the very begining 20 years ago, and of course Linux got it from Unix which implemented it in 1969, and Unix got it from Multics which invented it in 1964 which is nearly 50 years ago!!.

          Linux is that super OS that runs on absolutely everything from smart watches to almost all of the top 500 supercomputers.
          bjrosen@...
    • Multiple accounts on Android.

      Does this actually exist for devices not made by Nokia?
      lazarx
  • I wonder how much this has to do with your AppleID

    Would multiple users have to have their own AppleIDs to log in?

    If so, what would that do to all the apps, music, videos, etc. that each account has that the other does not. Would those get stored as well?


    If you would have multiple users on the same AppleID, how would that work?
    yoshipod