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Future iPhone models could support multiple user accounts

Published Dec 23rd, 2020 6:18PM EST
iOS Features
Image: Apple

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  • A new patent suggests that future iPhone models could support multiple user accounts.
  • Such a feature would make it easier to share devices with kids without having to worry about them accessing inappropriate or sensitive content.

A new Apple patent unearthed by AppleInsider suggests that future iPhone models could feature support for multiple user accounts. While multiple user support isn’t necessarily at the top of most people’s feature wish-lists, it’s undoubtedly something that would improve the user experience for a small contingent of users.

The patent describes a device capable of handling several user accounts with varying credentials. Notably, the patent centers on security regarding the Secure Enclave to safely accommodate multiple users.

“A computing device can employ several passcodes and associated encryption keys,” the patent reads in part, “where multiple passcodes or encryptions keys may be associated with each different user account on the system. Before a user can obtain access to data stored on the computing device, the user may be required to successfully authenticate via the login screen.”

Apple, it’s worth noting, typically files patents for every new idea the company’s engineers come up with, no matter how small or practical. That being the case, Apple routinely files patents for features that ultimately never make their way into a shipping product. Still, some iPhone and iPad owners have been asking Apple to introduce support for multiple user accounts for some time now. And seeing as how some Android devices have supported multiple user accounts for some time, it would be nice for Apple to finally achieve feature-parity in this regard.

Last year, Kirk McElhearn outlined a few benefits that come along with a device capable of supporting multiple users, especially when we’re talking about a shared device like an iPad:

My partner has a three-year old granddaughter, and she sometimes allows the child to use her iPad. But that iPad is set up with my partner’s Apple ID, allowing access to email, messages, and all the other personal data on the device. Little kids are digital savvy, and know that they can tap in lots of places to make things happen. They could tap on the Mail icon, for example, and perhaps open an email and send it to some random contact. They could delete calendar events and notes. Or they could send or delete messages. In addition, they can easily go to Netflix or Amazon Prime Video and view content that you don’t want them to see.

Looking ahead, it’s still far too early in the iOS and iPhone development cycle to know if we might see this feature roll out with iOS 15 and the iPhone 13. iOS 14 was released just about two months ago and iOS 15 rumors have been few and far in between thus far. As is typically the case, though, we can expect some iOS and next-gen iPhone rumors to start bubbling to the surface once 2021 kicks into high gear.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.