updated 11:35 am EDT, Tue May 20, 2008
Apple user account patent
Apple has been working towards increasing the portability of user data, a newly-published application at the US Patent and Trademark Office reveals. While Mac OS X already supports multiple user accounts, guests on a machine must either create their own account, or rely on someone else's. The proposed Apple scheme would let users carry their user settings from one computer to another on a portable device, much as some USB flash drives attempt to do on Windows PCs. In the same manner, portable accounts could be password-protected.
A difference is that like a backup drive, the Apple device would also carry with it the contents of a user directory, so that key files or just chosen ones are always accessible. The company further proposes that settings and data could be carried on a media player rather than a dedicated drive, likely meaning that the technology is intended for iPods and iPhones. While users can already sync some personal data with Apple handhelds, the company has never had a simple solution for transporting the bulk of it.