Why the iPad Will Not Support Multiple Users

Apple’s engineering team is currently investigating support for multiple users on the iPad, saying that it is a ‘known issue.’

The reports of Apple investigating multi-user support stem from a developer who submitted the feature request to Apple. He later received the following response:

Multi-user support is something that I have wished for since I got my first iPad. My wife and I shared the tablet, and we both wanted to use the same apps – Facebook, Twitter, Flipboard, etc. But we didn’t want to have each others’ stuff on there. She doesn’t like TechCrunch, and I don’t like Celebrity news. So this is definitely a desire that Apple could fulfill.

But it won’t happen.

Why? Because instead of fussing with logging in and out of apps, we bought another iPad.

iOS devices were designed to be a more intimate computing experience. Every person I know with an iPhone or an iPad has it set up just the way they like it. The home screen icons are just-so, with special apps in certain folders, and personal mail accounts set up with custom notifications, etc. While this makes an excellent case for implementing multi-user support for the users, it has also generated millions of extra sales for Apple. At $500, the iPad is a more affordable device than a laptop or desktop computer, and as a result, families with multiple iPad users are much more likely to pick up multiple iPads.

Desktop and laptop computers have supported multiple logins for decades. Yet, the only place where I see multiple accounts work consistently is in the workplace. I’ve set up dozens of computers for various families, and despite best efforts to create separate logins, I find that most families revert to the single login within a week.

So I’m bearish on this rumor, I have huge doubts that Apple will give up the extra sales for a feature that few will actually use for a device that people already expect to be a more intimate, individual computing experience.

Update: Instapaper developer Marco Arment has responded to the AppleInsider post by pointing out that the above letter is a form letter.

That’s the standard “duplicate bug” response email. It’s a form letter. It means nothing, except that he was not the first person to make that suggestion.

Caleb Hicks

Caleb is a teacher, entrepreneur, and tech enthusiast. He teaches kids (and his Mom) how to use computers for fun and profit. He loves to talk tech, gadgets, and Apple on Twitter (@calebhicks). Check out more posts by Caleb on his Author Page.

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