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As a mobile computer, the iPad is very personal, but it also begs to be shared. And that's a problem. I don't want my friends to be able to check my emails or delete my high score when they play with it.

Being based on OS X, iOS could theoretically support multiple user accounts. But adding new users (even if done correctly) wouldn't play nice with iTunes.

So, what about partitioning the hard drive and installing several instances of iOS? Add a screen early in the boot process that allows you to choose the partition, and thus the user.

Itunes would thus be able to sync many users separately on the same device, depending on the chosen partition.

To be clearer: I'm not just asking the question, I want to actually do it. Can anybody suggest means to achieve this?

Continued my research: apparently, it is possible to modify the Boot Rom (cf. Limera1n).

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4 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

One place to look might be at dual booting an iPhone with Android.

Update: iUsers for iPad now makes this possible. Check out the video.

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Very interesting indeed! –  tool Oct 12 '10 at 13:06
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iOS caters to both the iPhone and the iPad. Multi-user support on the iPhone would be superfluous. Multi-user support on the iPad but not on the iPhone would imply considerable fragmentation of the iOS platform.

If Apple really wanted to include multi-user support in iOS, partitioning the flash storage and installing several instances of iOS would not be the proper way to go about it. Multi-user support should be accomplished with one instance of iOS and different folders constituting different users' home directories, as is the case with major desktop operating systems. Then user permissions are to be implemented so that one user cannot view another user's files or folders, and thus cannot not read that user's email, etc.

Though multi-user support can be properly implemented on the iPad, it is uncalled for as "portable devices" are often "personal devices".

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I know. But I'm wondering how we can actually achieve it, not if/when/why Apple might do it. –  tool Oct 12 '10 at 9:15
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No non-jailbroken iOS device (publicly) supports multiple accounts, even if one could partition the storage. I have no experience with jailbroken devices so I can't speak to that scenario.

I've seen multiple blog entries lamenting the lack of a feature to lock certain types of content (and they even offered up a couple interesting solutions, too).

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Yes, jailbreak seems necessary to achieve this. –  tool Oct 12 '10 at 9:17
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iOS itself supports multiple user accounts, but SpringBoard doesn't support them, as it's tied heavily to the mobile user. Some people have put together mods that allow you to add more accounts for the UI/SpringBoard if you're jailbroken, but support for the ones I can find have dissipated.

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Super old post, I know, but I felt like I should comment about this (I don't have the time right now to make a full answer, so if someone is still interested in this topic, maybe they could nudge me into writing one). –  Andrew Larsson Mar 19 at 7:31
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