Apple Once Again Doesn’t Bring Accounts to the iPad

Not every family has multiple iPads and sharing one can be a one-way ticket to awkwardville.

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Apple had a commercial once that showed a child using an iPad Pro in fun places like at a shop and up a tree then exclaiming, “what’s a computer?” Yeah, it was a weird flex for a company that makes and sells quite a lot of computers. The general theme was that the iPad Pro is capable of doing most of the things a computer can do and in some cases, do it better because of the touchscreen. Then kids will use and forget all about those pesky computers the olds have been using for decades.

But even with its weird ad campaign, the iPad operating system (iPadOS) still lacks support for multiple accounts which is sort of important for a computer. Even for a computer that helps you do homework while laying on the ground in the backyard. It’s a huge oversight that not only presumes that all families can afford multiple iPads (many can’t) and that only one person will use an iPad at a school or business.

I’m not here to debate the merits of the iPad as a computer. Many people use it as their main computing device. But if the tablet is truly the computer that Apple says it is, it should include a feature that would help families, schools, and yes even businesses. But really, mostly families.

If we learned anything during the pandemic it’s that computers and broadband are essential, in fact, mandatory in order to receive an education. Students without the resources afforded to more affluent families had to contend with internet access that continually dropped Zoom sessions and older hardware that wasn’t equipped to handle the added computing power needed to install the new software needed to handle distance learning.

For students, iPads and other tablets make sense as computing devices because they’re portable and typically more rugged than the average laptop. But issues are likely to arise when multiple family members need to use the same iPad. Apps, services, and notifications that might be important to a parent might not be relevant or even appropriate for the third-grader in the house.

I mean it’s cool that your tennis club is planning a trip to Vegas in the fall to go H.A.M., but do you want your kid to know that the lady they know as aunt Julie is not referencing a pork product?

Also, you’re a parent and it’s no longer 2011, stop using H.A.M.

While an iPhone is an extension of you, the iPad in some cases is a member of a larger section of shared devices. Like the TV, microwave, or whatever weird privacy-invading thing Facebook has put on the market. In some instances, it’s passed from person to person in a household, school, or work and still, Apple treats it as a single user device.

Single-user devices become an extension of ourselves. Everything is set up the way you want it. Have you ever used someone else’s iPhone? It’s madness! All the apps are in the wrong place and the notification settings are out of control.

The point is, if you had individual accounts for your iPad, your kid, partner, or coworker would have access to the tablet without having access to your digital life and the information that makes Julie sound like a great person to hang out with in Vegas.

Never change person-I-made-up-for-this-article named Julie. You’re the real hero.

Apple wants the world to know how much privacy means to it but won’t add the feature to the iPad that would actually keep a user's private information private from other people. One family can log into their individual accounts knowing they can work or browse or launch widgets in a setting that’s familiar and separate from when someone else in the family needs to accomplish a task. So when the little girl in the ad asks, “what’s a computer?” the answer is, a computer is a device that lets people create separate profiles and accounts so that they can be more efficient and feel safe in the knowledge that others aren’t peeking at their private data. Until iPadOS has that, it’s still just a tablet.

Automotive and tech reporter. Lead singer of @nascum. Host of Roll on YouTube.

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