Some of the products are very personal. Your iPhone, for instance, is a device that you take with you along with you most wherever you go. Your Apple Watch, for those who have one, is much more personal, since you put it on much of the day. However for lots of people, an iPad is a shared device. Many families have an iPad they leave in the living room, and have one for the children, and this can lead to problems ensuring that its data is secure. Or perhaps a parent might have an iPad that they give loan to a child for some time, but there’s a danger that the child may access or delete some of their private data.

Unlike the Mac, iOS doesn’t permit you to set up multiple user accounts on a device. Here’s why it requires this feature.

User data on iOS

When you set up an iOS device, you are prompted to enter your Apple ID. This in turn activates features such as email, iMessages, calendars, notes, and much more. You are able to turn these services off, if you would like, in Settings > [your name] > iCloud.

You also need to use an Apple ID for that iTunes Store and App Store, and this is another setting .

If you’re setting up a device to become shared with your family, it’s smart to check these settings to make sure that none of your personal user information is accessible. But you will need a minumum of one Apple ID set up for apps along with other content.

Sharing an iPad

The above scenario is okay for those who have a device you can commit to be shared, but what about when an adult wants to share their device temporarily having a child?

My partner has a three-year old granddaughter, and she or he sometimes allows the child to make use of her iPad. But that iPad is to establish with my partner’s Apple ID, allowing use of email, messages, and all the other private data around the device. Kids are digital savvy, and know that they are able to tap in several places to make things happen. They could tap around the Mail icon, for example, and maybe open an email and send it with a random contact. They could delete calendar events and notes. Or they might send or delete messages. In addition, they can easily go to Netflix or Amazon Prime Video and examine content that you don’t want them to see.

How Apple could allow multiple users

If Apple allowed multiple users on iOS, then my partner could set up the iPad having a second account when the child really wants to make use of the device, and not have to worry. There are many ways Apple could do this.

The first is to allow nominative user accounts. The benefit for this is that you could set restrictions that are appropriate towards the child’s age for each account. And if you could do this this for multiple children, you would then be comfy that each child while using device would not be able to use it in ways that you simply don’t approve or intend.

The other option would be to create a general guest account, such as around the Mac, which has a set of default settings that you could adjust. This account wouldn't be nominative, though Apple would have to permit you to set an Apple ID for that iTunes Store and App Store. The issue with this particular is signing into apps that provide content, such as Netflix; there would need to be a means for those apps to make use of the credentials signed into the main user account.

Finally, there might be a Children account by default in iOS that you could create, or activate, which retains all of your login details for apps, yet limits the activity that users can perform. Again, Netflix is a good example of this. It allows you to setup profiles for various users, because both versions retains their very own settings, watch list, etc., and each profile can have a maturity level. Additionally, there’s a default Children profile that you can use anytime, so kids only see appropriate content.

It’s important to note that Apple already allows this for educational users. Teachers can setup makes up about all their students, and each one logs into any one of a number of shared iPads for their specific profile. Therefore the technology for multiple iOS user accounts already exists-just not for families. This solution does need a server, but Apple could develop a multiple user management system into HomeKit, for instance, which lets you make use of an iPad, Apple TV, or HomePod like a home hub.

Multiple user accounts on iOS would make it quicker to share devices, especially in families. Apple should implement this selection to help users better control what their kids see and do on iOS devices.

How can I learn more?

We’ll come with an in-depth discussion of iPad topics about this week’s episode from the Intego Mac Podcast, so make sure to sign up for be sure you don’t miss the latest episode. You’ll should also subscribe to our e-mail newsletter and keep a watch here on The Mac Security Blog for updates.

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