Multi-User iOS and the Fingerprint Scanner

I came across this article about Apple acquiring AuthenTec for their fingerprint scanning technology and had a lightbulb go off. What if, in addition to being used to enhance security, it was also used for a multi-user iOS experience?

Multi-User iOS

An iPad isn’t necessary personal like an iPhone, there are many situations where families are sharing an iPad. iOS has lagged behind this use case, offering no good multi-user experience.

This means that all browser favorites, browsing, history, mail in the default Mail app, and all data in other apps for that matter, such as game progress, documents, notes, and so on, when shared with a family, will be a mess. In an app-centric world, without multi-user capability at the OS level, it is very difficult to share a device between multiple users.

Android recently added multi-user support in 4.2 so Apple is decidedly behind the curve here.

Fingerprint Scanner

With the recent buzz about the fingerprint scanner, most people probably assume the rationale is to support better security on iOS devices. And I’m sure that’s the case.

But it could also be used to make this multi-user experience very nice.

My speculation - Fingerprint Scanner for User Differentiation

Imagine, on a family shared iPad, picking up the locked device and just sliding to unlock.

Since that device can recognize your fingerprint, it knows who you are and drops you into your personalized homescreen.

It has your wallpaper, your apps, when you open the mail program, it has your mail, open your game it has your recent settings, and so on. A true multi-user experience, and you didn’t have to do a thing to tell the system who you were, all you did was slide to unlock.

Your sister enters the room and wants to use the iPad. You simply lock the screen, hand it to her. She can just slide to unlock and since it recognized her fingerprint, it logs in as her. Again, her personalized wallpaper, apps, etc.

Wouldn’t this be neat?

Published 7 Aug 2013

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