App Lock: locking down the iPad for business use, and why this is not necessarily a bad thing

I didn’t watch the iPhone 5 presentation from start to finish, but Apple apparently described additional features in iOS 6 that we hadn’t heard about before including App Lock. It does exactly what it sounds like: it locks the iPad into a single app. Think of dedicated uses like a cash register, or hospital patient management tool.

My first reaction to this was a negative one. It sort of smacks of Apple biting the hand that fed it. After all, one of the reasons the iPad has had so much success penetrating the enterprise is because workers simply started using them on the job – whether IT approved or not. This occurred to an extent that forced some Fortune 500 IT departments to work with the iPad pretty much whether they wanted to or not.

And no doubt those workers enjoyed the flexibility inherent in having their own iPads as work tools. Everything from having their own photos, games, and media to other apps of their choosing. With App Lock, that’s no more. It’s as if Apple is saying, “To all you folks who brought your iPads to work, we thank you for the Trojan horse, but now you’re screwed.”

On the other hand, by this point so many people have gotten so ingrained in the benefits of iPad usage that, presented with a locked down corporate iPad, I can’t see many of them simply dropping their personal iPads. Said another way, App Lock gives rigid corporate IT departments (and let’s face it, they exist) a rationale to purchase iPads en masse. Those are incremental sales for Apple above and beyond those already sold to people for personal use. That’s a good thing, certainly for Apple at least.

I feel for the worker bee who now has to carry two iPads – their own as well as the one issued by ‘corporate.’ However, better to carry two iPads than two laptops…

Here’s a great piece in Wired that discusses App Lock, and other corporate efforts by Apple, at length.

By the way I apologize for any errors in this post. It’s my first made to this blog via email…


About Tony Moody

I make movies. I wield a Les Paul and an iPad. I consume media - copious amounts. And I dabble in assorted nonsense. What do you do?
This entry was posted in Features, iOS, iPad in the workplace, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to App Lock: locking down the iPad for business use, and why this is not necessarily a bad thing

  1. Night Spring says:

    App Lock isn’t just for corporate use. It should also be good for parents with small children. In fact, I’ve seen many parents request this feature on MacRumors, and when I first heard about this feature in the WWDC keynote (yes,it was in the WWDC keynote, yesterday wasn’t the first time it was announced), it stuck me as yet another instance of Apple refining iOS to give the user more control of their iDevices.

    • Tony Moody says:

      Wow! And oops. I didn’t realize that it’d been introduced during WWDC, so thanks. I’ll have to edit the original post. You know it didn’t even occur to me that it’d be useful for parents. And shame on me as a parent! That said, I think it didn’t occur to me because I guess I assumed that it would be somewhat of a pain to get in and out of app lock, otherwise worker bees would easily circumvent it. I guess it’ll simply be password based?

      It also highlights the need for user profiles. This way we wouldn’t have to constantly set up app lock…

      • Night Spring says:

        Well, I’m happy to report that I managed to install iOS6 GM on my iPad 2, and getting into and out of app lock mode (Apple calls it guided access) is the same basic idea as enabling / disabling parental restrictions (though the setting for it is in the accessibility menu). It uses a four-digit password just like parental restrictions. You can also disable seleted screen areas — the selection mechanism for that is quite neat! You just circle the general area and it snaps to encompass the nearest controls in the UI design. But as you say, it only works one app at a time, so things could get busy if your child wants to swap apps often.

        Hopefully, we’ll get user profiles sooner than later, but it surely has to come sometime!

      • Tony Moody says:

        Excellent and nicely done! Thanks for the info. Glad to hear it’s simple, though in a large enough workforce or with enough time it’d be pretty easy to crack the four digit code!

        I do wish apple would allow for profiles. Not only to distribute apps in a safe way, but to share libraries of media selectively.

  2. Chris Bergman says:

    It is called Guided Accessibility

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