Multiple user management on iOS probably ain't happening

Written on November 20, 2018

I’ve been a fan of the iPad. I believe one of the pros with the iPad is iOS. Let’s be honest, most folks probably use the iPad mostly for browsing the Internet and binging on YouTube videos and Netflix. But I truly believe the iPad can be utilized to do some productive work.

In the past, I’ve used an iPad to write long form for this site, I’ve even done some light dev work. And it has been a delight because one of iOS’ main features is focused application use. Well, I guess, if you don’t use split view or slide over.

One thought I’ve had about the iPad and I suppose more specifically about iOS, is if it would ever get the ability to manage multiple users. The scenario would go like this, like a family iMac, you could get an iPad Pro to share with your entire family. Depending on when the device sees downtime, different members can pick it up and use it. In doing so, you’d have the ability to have different apps set up each tied to different iTunes accounts.

If iOS could handle multiple users each tied to their own iTunes account, I wouldn’t have run into the sad reality that iOS’ Family Sharing doesn’t support In-App purchases.

I think this could be pretty powerful, but I don’t think Apple is going to create such a feature. With the iPhone and iPad being such a personal device, I’m guessing that they imagine every member of the family having their own (i)device instead of sharing one. But for once, it’d be sweet to be able to hand off my iPhone to my toddlers and not worry about a 300+ burst shot of them running around the house taking up my camera roll. Or guessing which app my kid deleted or rearranged when I get my device back from them.

Think about the possibilities if you could quickly swap users and then hand off a device to your kid and their account is almost sandboxed, tailored to their usage. Or being able to share a single iPad Pro with your spouse, with different apps for each of your own needs. While I still hope one day that Apple will build such a feature, I wouldn’t hold my breath. They’re probably betting on each member of a family just purchasing their own devices.

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