A recent patent shows that Apple is working on a feature often requested by iPad and iPhone users’ multiple user accounts. There is no proof that this is part of the next version of iOS or iPadOS, but it is a promising sign.
Multiple iPhone and iPad user accounts are not easy
IPads are regularly shared between families and co-workers. And many parents give their iPhone to a child. There would be much less hassle on these device exchanges if each user had their own account.
The challenge with adding this feature is that iOS and iPadOS encrypt your storage with the passcode used to unlock the device. Without the access code, the phone or tablet cannot access the files. But with two or more users with different access codes, the files have to be encrypted with separate access codes.
This is an advantage, because one user will not be able to read another user’s files. But it is also an additional level of complexity.
Apple examines the possibility
Apple recently received a patent for “Provision of secure enclave domains to support multiple users“. In the technical writing and on stilts of those documents, the presentation describes a way for Apple’s Secure Enclave to handle more than one account and access code. It covers “a system, method and apparatus for provisioning domains on a secure enclave processor to support multiple users.” That includes “smartphone or tablet computing devices.”
He Secure Enclave is a coprocessor in iPhones, Macs, and many other Apple devices specifically intended to handle encryption and other security tasks.
The details of the multi-account security method covered by the patent are of interest only to experts. What’s important for the average user is that Apple is putting time and money into exploring ways to bring multiple user accounts to the iPhone and iPad.
But the fact that the company patented such a system does not indicate that it is guaranteed to reach the iPhone and iPad in the near future. Apple regularly patents ideas that are never heard of again. But this is a feature that many users have requested for more than a decade. Maybe we will finally see this feature possible.