Passtouch Browser Brings Multi-user Privacy To Shared iPads

Passtouch Browser Brings Multi-user Privacy To Shared iPads

Unlike most computers, the iPad isn’t designed to be a multi-user device. iOS doesn’t support multiple user accounts or profiles – that essentially means one set of device and application settings along with a personal collection of information like notes, email, browser bookmarks, and stored passwords for different online services. Sharing a device with that much personal data makes it easy for someone to snoop while using another person’s iPhone or iPad or on an iPad that is commonly shared between multiple users.

Passtouch is a web browser for the iPad that’s designed to offer at least some multi-user capabilities as well as to secure web-based information like bookmarks, cookies, and stored passwords. It doesn’t offer whole-device accounts or profiles but it does offer some extra security for devices that are regularly shared.

There are a handful of situations where iPads are commonly shared. A family having one or more iPads that everyone uses throughout the course of the day is one prime example. Another is when you’re meeting or social event and hand your iPad to a friend or colleague to show off something or let them perform some type of internet-oriented task like checking email, bank balances, or something else through a web-based service.

Then there are situations where iPads are intended to be shared. A great example of this is in the classroom, particularly in elementary or middle schools where there isn’t 1-to-1 program providing a iPad exclusively to each student. Others examples include shared devices at a conference or training center, patient iPads at doctor’s office or hospital, or even a collection of corporate owned devices shared by an entire department.

Passtouch offers the ability for each user to have their own web browser environment that is protected by a gesture drawn onscreen. The browser is designed for multiple users and guest users. It isn’t the perfect multi-user iOS solution, but it is a good one for certain situations. The novelty of its startup/lock screen (shown above) is designed not just to look good but also to help users remember complex gesture passcodes.

Passtouch probably isn’t for everyone and it doesn’t offer Safari’s level of integration with iOS and iCloud, but it is a good solution for iPads that get shared on a regular basis either at home or in certain office and education situations.

  • Loren Peterson

    It looks like I’m being silenced by the big brother
    “International” team here at COM. I suspected that a bunch of blithering
    morons were running this blog. I guess freedom of speech is only an
    “American” privilege. 

  • Bob_Zimmerman

    I have been asking for multi-user in iOS for a while now, and I really don’t see the issue with making it happen.  All apps that are downloaded would ask “Install for All Users?” and you click yes or no.  I, like many people, share my iPad with my little daughter and my wife, and while having several pre-school apps on the iPad doesn’t bother me, her moving certain apps into folders and removing them from the dock, does.  Setting up email accounts for each user would be nice as well.

  • ddevito

    When is the iPad going to get multi-user logins? I have my apps, my wife has hers, and my daughter has hers too. I don’t need their apps on my screens. And it would be nice to have the mail and calendar apps configured for our accounts and kept separate.

  • CharliK

    It is 99.9% certain that it won’t ever get log ins. We are moving out of the era of a device or each use and into the era of a device for each user. Apple and the last 5 phones and 2 iPads (plus the iPod touch) show that they have already begun the move. They don’t design these to be multiuser and almost certainly won’t. 

    I would hazard to say that Apple is looking at the home computer in 95% of cases to really be a hub alongside iCloud etc to power these user devices rather than the main tool for use for pretty much everything. With the Apple TV being the tool for those community moments like watching a movie.

  • Eddy Cormon

    Where’s the security?
    iPad: insecure
    Browsers: insecure
    Software on iPad: insecure
    maybe I’m missing something

About the author

Ryan FaasRyan Faas is a technology journalist and consultant living in upstate New York who has written extensively about Apple, business and enterprise IT, and the mobile industry. In addition to writing for Cult of Mac, he is a contributor to Computerworld, InformIT, and Peachpit Press. In a previous existence he was a healthcare IT director as well as a systems and network administrator. Follow Ryan on Twitter and Google +

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