Apple Admits iPad Multi-user Support Is In The Works
May 9, 2012

Apple Admits iPad Multi-user Support Is In The Works

Michael Harper for

As is, the iPad has already made great strides to not only compete in the Apple-declared “Post-PC” era, but also to dominate it.

The introduction of iOS 5 allowed users the ability to use their iPads as standalone machines, rather than having to immediately tether them to another device just to get the thing turned on. Features like AirPlay and AirPrint give users the ability to send their documents, music and video through the air to output devices, while apps such as iPhoto and GarageBand beg the question: “Why pick up your Mac when you could just sit here and do the same work on a touchscreen?”

There is one glaring hole, however, in iPad´s suit of armor: A noted lack of multi-user support.

It´s a feature which has been clamored for ever since early reports from the Wall Street Journal declared families could share an iPad, logging in with facial-recognition technology.

So, it comes as little surprise to hear an app developer using Apple´s Bug Reporter has sent in a request for the feature.

What is surprising, however, is Apple´s response to said developer.

Notoriously tight-lipped – some might even say to a fault – Apple will often take its time when it comes to admitting to a new feature, service, or “known issue.”

But, as AppleInsider puts it, the developer received this response to his multi-user request from Apple´s Developer Connection´s Worldwide Developer Relations team:

“After further investigation it has been determined that this is a known issue, which is currently being investigated by engineering.”

According to AppleInsider, the developer – who remains nameless – said he has often sent in suggestions via Apple´s Bug Reporter, as there is an option within the reporter to request a feature as opposed to reporting a bug in their software. This was, however, the first time Apple has responded to one of the developers suggestions, and it´s a pretty big admission on Apple´s part.

As mentioned in the 2010 Wall Street Journal piece, one idea Apple had toyed with was the ability for family members to share “virtual sticky notes” on the device for one another. Though Apple´s first iPad lacked such a camera, it seems the original plan was to utilize a front-facing camera to automatically log in each user with facial recognition technology. Once a user logs in with their face, their unique applications, settings and wallpaper would be loaded on the device, a pretty cool and futuristic feature, should it ever become a reality.

That the Wall Street Journal got this wrong in 2010 almost lends more credence to the notion that we will see this feature implemented soon.

The Wall Street Journal has often been suspected of working hand-in-hand with Apple to leak controlled information at specific and strategic times. Bloggers like MG Siegler have often wondered aloud how the Wall Street Journal is both able to have such accurate rumors and drive market expectations of new Apple devices.

After all, Steve Jobs liked Walt Mossberg so much he would invite him to all of Apple´s product announcements, and Mossberg even went to visit Jobs´ bedside in his final days.

Apple´s WWDC will take place this June in Cupertino, and the new version of iPad´s operating system, iOS 6 is expected to be announced. Perhaps we could see this feature in iPads as soon as this year?