Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How to share an iPad: with great difficulty

Two hands good, four hands bad.

The iPad is meant to be used by ONE person.

I discovered this late Monday night when I started researching how the ad majors would share iPads in class this semester - two students per iPad.

Four hours later, I came up with the answer: with great difficulty!

If I discovered anything, it's that the iPad needs an app or a software upgrade that allows two people to easily sign in and out of the device from email, iTunes, and the iPad itself.

(There's an app in development called MultiPad, but there are danger signs: the website is full of typos and the sign-up page seems to suggest that you need a "jailbroken" iPad to run the app. Wah, wah, wah.)

Yeah, the iPad is a "personal" device, but it seems pretty likely that partners, spouses, families, and students would want to share one, especially given that the cheapest one goes for $549.

So I put my mind to the problem until I could set fire to objects with my mind, just like Drew Barrymore did. Handy!

Barring the aforementioned iPad app or software upgrade, here's my best guess at how to share an iPad, as I described it to my students:

Option 1:

Both people have an iTunes Store account. If you don’t already have one, you download iTunes from onto your computer, launch it, click on “iTunes Store” in the left margin, and select “account” on the top, right corner of the screen.

You can also set up an iTunes account on a school computer, but you’ll need to attach it to a credit card, even if you only want to download free apps. Make sure you sign out when you’re done!

Option 2:

One person has an iTunes Store account - the iPad administrator. If you go for this option, and the other person wants to download an app, he or she needs the “administrator” to do it using his or her’s iTunes account. You want a paid app? You pay the administrator in advance to download it.

Either way, do NOT share your iTunes Store password with anyone, including the person with whom you share a device. An iTunes account is set up to your credit card, so sharing it is ALWAYS a bad idea.

Other stuff:
  • The person who takes it home for the first time needs to sync it to a computer with iTunes to make it active. This will be the iPad’s “home computer.” It’s OK to use an existing Apple ID from another device, like an iPhone.
  • After this initialization, you never need to sync an iPad to a computer again – you can simply make purchases from the app store through the iPad and plug it into the wall to charge it.
  • The second person can sync the iPad with his or her own computer if he or she wants to, but doesn’t have to; if two people wish to sync their iPads with two computers, BOTH computers have to be either Mac or PC, you can’t switch back and forth.
  • To charge your iPad, just plug it into the wall; you don’t need a computer to access iTunes or charge it after the first time.
  • To purchase an app, you simply visit the App Store by pressing the App Store icon at the bottom of the iPad screen, typing in your password, and – presto – you’ve got an app.
  • We will be switching iPads from one person to the other every Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. Showing up late, or not at all, or without the iPad, will result in a suspension of iPad privileges. Who gets the iPad over the holidays and work-placement period? To be determined!
  • To switch the iPad to your iTunes account, click on the iPad’s Settings icon, select “Store” in the left-hand margin, and “Sign Out.” Then you can sign in with your iTunes Store account and password.
  • You can enter email addresses, transfer music, and photos, but remember: what one person sees, both people see. You may not wish to set up email for that very reason!
  • Many great apps are free, some are not. If you wish to buy an app, you can choose to share the cost between both people; however, no one is under any obligation to pay for anything that their partner downloads.
  • At the end of the year, you hand back the iPad to me. You can delete every app you purchased off the iPad, so no one else will benefit from your purchases. iTunes stores your purchases for all time, so if you buy a new iPad, you can download everything again for free.
What did I miss?

Did I miss something obvious? Did I miss something not-so-obvious? Do you know another way to share an iPad? Do tell!


  1. The issue of sharing mobile devices is interesting.
    In my class yesterday I asked students to use their devices to find examples of certain kinds of journalistic writing.
    In order to share examples with their classmates, students had to resort to the old-fashioned town crier method of reading them as loudly as possible. Some students also made notes on the whiteboard.
    A connection from iPads, iPods and other devices that would display their screens through a data projector would make them a lot more useful in classrooms and other group settings.

  2. Yeah I'll tell you how to share.

    Okay so borrow your iPad to someone under your direct supervision. You say to the skeptical iPad scoffer, "here." They laugh and accept it, thinking to themselves...fine, I'll try it, I'll try it. I'll try this goofy thing and then I can say I tried it and confirmed my suspicions that iPads are dumb.

    They start surfing the internet, they first thing the say is "...okay so how do I.." and you cut them off, and you say "you already know how to use this." They seem bewildered, "I do?" they exclaim. Indeed, within seconds they are surfing their favourite sites. Sooner than later they state "hmm typing is pretty cool."

    Over all 2 minutes of that experience, they are putty in your hands. You reach over their shoulder to click the button to bring everything back to the desktop, and show them your awesome collection of apps, proudly showing them off, "I bet you can't do THIS with your PHONE."

    You should them your awesome star chart that lights up in red, so you don't get flash-blinded while you're looking for that oh-so-distant constellation. You dictate some dirty, vulgar phrase into Dragon Dictation, gleefully watching your curse words show up on the screen with st*rs *n th* v*w*ls. You update your twitter feed, you fire up pages, write a sentence and send it as a PDF to yourself via email.

    We have now surpassed the 5 minute mark of "sharing." You can now have your iPad back.

    Oh, they'll groan, they'll say they want to play around with it more. Then you can playfully tell them to screw off and get their own iPad, proud of yourself for converting another laptops-forever laptops-will-never-die-just-like-typewriters, anti-iPad, anti-tablet loser friend of yours into a believer of...the FUTURE.

    Now you can launch into your rhetoric about how fast things move and change nowadays, how every five years, shit becomes obsolete, and how you're amazed people still use KEYBOARDS! That we have gotten used to ancient technologies like they are here to stay, and reject all the cool projects. That they're like your grandfather who got a Facebook account and now makes your life miserable on a daily basis, while they are getting on the boat you're getting off of it, because there's a new boat, a cooler boat, an INVISIBLE boat maybe, and they're like, nah, there's no invisible boat, I CAN'T SEE IT! Just as you jump, faithfully, off the edge, landing squarely on the water, and they wonder how you got Jesus powers.

    And you say stop being such a lame ass and get an iPad already. If you don't want an iPad because you don't like Steve Job's Apple machine, then you expect them to get one of the many, many tablets that will be available in the near future.

    That's how you "share" your iPad.


    Is there an app for that? will be the new Are you on Facebook?

  3. Ha, ha! What a response!!

    You rule, Graham!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.