Sharing an iPad

You can, but Apple can make it much better.

Paul Alvarez
Mar 22 · 5 min read
Photo by Daniel Cañibano on Unsplash

I recently sold my iPad Mini. It was a solid iPad and didn’t sell it for any negative reason. You would know by now, based on my other writings about tech, I am constantly changing my technology and challenging myself on what I can live without.

Since I have reduced my need to read as many books in 2020 as I did in 2019, I felt that I didn’t need another thing to distract me. The iPad Mini was a fantastic reading device, but it was also a great consumption device.

Streaming services, YouTube, and Twitter, became my only use of the iPad Mini once I stopped reading so many books on it. I also started using the Theme System Journal, so I wasn’t using the iPad Mini as a journal anymore. So I decided to get rid of my beloved iPad Mini and go back to just a MacBook Pro and iPhone setup.

So far, it has been good. Though there are times when I am sitting on the couch or lying in bed while looking at my 5.2-inch phone that I wish I had a larger screen — like a 7.9-inch sized one. But I get over it fairly quickly and just go back to whatever it is I am reading or watching.

One thing I have noticed is that I spend more time on my MacBook Pro now instead of my iPhone to read longer articles or posts, or if I want to research something. Still, the MacBook Pro can be a pain to bring into bed with me or balancing it on my lap when on the couch, so I instead use my iPhone.

That was until I remembered that I gifted my wife my old 10.5-inch iPad Pro when I purchased the iPad Mini last Fall. I asked politely one evening if she would mind sharing the iPad Pro at home since I no longer had my iPad Mini and surprisingly, she was more than willing — it was actually unsurprising since my wife is the best.

Sharing an iPad can be a mixed experience depending on the situation. For my wife, it didn’t matter at all. If anything, it made the experience better since I logged into my Amazon account to access all my Kindle books and my Medium account to get the membership access, which she could now use.

For me, besides having the Kindle App load all my books and be able to access all of the Medium stories that I have saved. Everything else was logged into her accounts. We share all the streaming services, so Amazon Prime and Netflix were fine. But my YouTube Premium account couldn’t be used since she had her own YouTube account, and the iPad was logged into her iCloud account, so all of the Apple services (Messages, Mail, Notes, etc.) were all hers.

Sitting on the couch and using the iPad Pro again instead of using my iPhone is pretty great, regardless of the setup. Even with most of the apps and Apple services logged in with my credentials, I can still do a lot on an iPad by just using the Safari browser alone.

Going to different blogs and websites that I am interested in, which right now is mostly FIRE themed blogs (like this one or this one or even this one), is very easy. Because my wife and I are on a Family iCloud Account, I can download all of the games and apps the I had already purchased on the iPad Mini before or on my phone.

So using an iPad that is shared is pretty straightforward and not that bad of an experience when you get past the fact that you won’t be able to Message or access the stuff that you have on your iPhone. Since I like using a browser a lot to look up random things I am interested, and I could access the books and articles I want to read, I didn’t feel I was compromising too much.

But Apple could do better in being able to share iPads, and there is one particular area that I feel would help Apple achieve greatness in this area if they would just embrace it. Due to the iPad stemming some it’s inspiration from its little brother the iPhone — or you could say the other way around based on the history of both. Apple has always perceived the iPad as a personal device to one person; I think this could change and make it so much better.

That change is for Apple to support User Profiles on iPads.

I know that multiple profiles are available when using iPads for schools, but just like every Mac that Apple sells, iPadOS should support having multiple profiles or logins. Maybe the fear of having multiple profiles means multiple apps, multiple photo collections, and anything else that can take up a lot of storage space.

Like I explained in my post about smartphones having storage problems, I think this issue could be averted if cloud storage was better embraced. Even then, it may require Apple to raise its base iPad storage options to over 64 GB to be able to accommodate the multiple profiles and their storage needs. Especially since Apple seems to have this under control on their MacBooks, which some start at 128 GB of storage.

Moving on from the storage issue, having multiple profiles on an iPad would be huge. Being able to login to any iPad that my wife and I have in the house and have all of my Apps, Apple Services, and settings exactly how I want them would be a fantastic user experience.

Some may fear that this would cause Apple not to sell as many iPads, resulting in no longer needing to improve the iPad or will cause Apple not to take the platform seriously. I feel like this is misguided since the Mac has seen a ton of different improvements of the years, and they have had user profiles for a very long time.

Just like most felt Apple would never have mouse support for the iPad, offer a complex way to multitask, or support external storage — Apple is continuously changing the iPad platform towards a more robust experience. I am sure for monetary reasons, it didn’t make sense only to sell one iPad per family, but now that we are all seeing the benefits of the iPad and what it can do. It would be worth it for Apple to provide a better experience for those that share iPads, whether it is in a home or corporate setting.

Until that time comes though, I will continue navigating this limited experience in sharing an iPad with my wife. Like I said before, it is mostly okay, but oh, it could be so much better.

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Paul Alvarez

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