Tablets are finally starting to take hold in the marketplace, mostly due to the fact that we’re finally using an upscaled mobile operating system, as opposed to trying to cram a desktop operating system on them, in my opinion. Either way, one of the biggest issues is that of multiple users.
While most of my friends each have their own laptop, there are still plenty of households in the U.S. and abroad that have a shared machine with at least two different users. The tablet seems like it would be shared even more, due to the more portable experience (you can literally pass it around, as opposed to a laptop, which is a bit more involved to hand-off). Unfortunately, these mobile platforms that today’s tablets are being built on do not usually understand the concept of multiple users.
With Android, dang near everything on the device is tied to a unique username and password. Apps are downloaded, email, contacts, calendar synced, the list goes on. Apple’s iPad is the same way – purchases from the App Store are tied to a specific account, as is Facetime and other Apple services/apps.
Fortunately, that’s starting to change on both platforms, though it’s interesting to note the origins of the change.
As expected, on the iPad, multiple-user support is now available, provided you’ve gone down the back alley and jailbroken your iPad. The implementation is quite nice, as you can see in this video:
With Android, however, Google has been adding support for multiple accounts in various apps (Gmail, etc) one by one. The latest addition is in the newly-revamped Android Market. Users will find that they can easily swap between accounts with a handy popup menu, allowing you to have apps from more than one account installed at the same time.
Of course, the Android solution isn’t full-on user switching, but it would be quite easy to have an option to confirm the user from the lockscreen, so that when you pick up the tablet and turn on the screen, you’re presented with a list from which you simply pick your name. A few seconds of loading and you would be presented with your customized experience, including homescreens and shortcuts and all.
Do you share a laptop/tablet in your home? How do you accomplish this right now?