Multi-user iPads are coming

A developer friend of mine let me use his iPad Pro with iOS 10.3 beta installed. When I went into the Settings one thing immediately jumped out at me. At the top of the settings menu my friend’s user credentials were listed based on his iCloud account. I immediately thought to myself “Multi-user capability is eventually coming to the iPad”. I will go through a few of the problems as I see it and why I think this might be Apple’s solution down the road.

People have been begging for multi-user capability on an iPad for quite some time now. I work in IT and I’ve been using computers since modems made funny screeching noises. There are problems with multi-user as it pertains to mobile devices in my opinion. Mobile devices have a set amount of RAM, processing power and storage space. Multi-user capability can cause problems like sluggish performance because multiple users have multiple things open. It uses up all the RAM and processing power. This was a problem with computers way back in the days before CPUs became so fast and RAM became so cheap. The next problem is storage space. There are people for whom storage on mobile devices are not enough. Now imagine if they had to start sharing that storage space with other users. These are the reasons why I’ve never wanted multi-user support on iOS devices.

Things have changed since then and Apple’s approach to data now seems to be iCloud. Right away iCloud can eliminate the issue of sharing device storage among multiple users. If all the users who login to an iPad are accessing their documents, pictures, emails in iCloud then it has little impact on the device’s local storage. The problem with strained resources could also be mitigated initially by having multi-user support but only allowing one user to login at a time. As time goes on this will inevitably change as the OS is optimized, apps remain in a frozen state, etc. The devices will also increase in processing power and RAM until the resource hit becomes negligible. It’s an exciting thought that multiple TouchIDs could be registered on a device. Allowing users to unlock it and get their own settings via iCloud. The idea of having your Mac desktop and files in iCloud also starts to make a little more sense. Imagine you pickup your iPad Pro and on login all the documents that are on your Mac are now on your iPad.

It also brings up a few more exciting questions. A setup like that would really make handoff an even bigger implementation than it is right now. You wouldn’t have to switch from one device to another. Instead you could do the work on any device you choose. The computing device would become irrelevant. I’m sure this is all a long time off but I can’t help how my mind races to that future when I see features like these. “Can’t innovate my ass!”