updated 05:44 pm EDT, Mon May 7, 2012
Hints at potential solution in development
In response to a "bug report" filed by a developer, Apple has for the first time acknowledged that the lack of multi-user support in iOS for the iPad is a "known issue" which is "currently being investigated by engineering," AppleInsider reports. While developers have often used bug reports to ask for or promote system features, the developer who submitted it says normally Apple doesn't reply to such requests.
The fact that he got a reply this time may suggest that the company is returning to work on the idea of multi-user support for the iPad. Family members being able to share the iPad through the use of multiple accounts was said to be a major focus for Apple early in the iPad's development, including the idea of having a front-facing camera used for facial recognition as a means of user login. Users would also have been able to leave "sticky notes" for each other on the device.
The login features were all said to have been included in an early prototype of the device, but for one reason or another were never completed and brought to market. One factor in that decision may have been that multi-user ability was never incorporated into the iPhone (where such a feature makes less sense) and a desire to keep the iOS experience as consistent as possible among devices. The original iPad also ultimately shipped without a front-facing camera, which may have hindered any multi-user plans.
Apple has in particular continued to receive patents on a facial-recognition system that would identify a user and bring up any custom settings associated with them. Such customizations could even be synced with desktop or notebook settings via iCloud. [via AppleInsider]