Nov 14, 2022

Setting up an iPad as a multi-user device

Andrea had a good idea the other day to set up a digital display in our kitchen area to be able to see shared calendars, reminders, other digital debris we individually see on our devices but don’t have a great way of seeing as a family.

We do everything in the Apple-ecosystem, Homekit, iCloud, all that, so it would seem that setting up an iPad to be a simple controller/view screen for this information would be easy, but Apple has made iPadOS the most frustrating OS in existence. Some things I ran into:

  • By default a device being reset to factory assumes you’d want to restore it as is. It even encourages you to use your phone to start set-up (I was too lazy to enter the wifi password), but this then sends you down some miserable “restore all your settings” path.
  • I don’t want this to run my iCloud account, in theory it’s a device that sits downstairs for some shared functionality. Someone could grab it to use, say, Paprika, control the Sonos, but not send e-mails from my e-mail account. Seems easy enough, but it’s also very unclear why I should or shouldn’t make this a family account. And the ability to just run as a “guest” (a feature of MacOS, last I checked) is limited to running a single app. Of course I eventually realized that if I wanted to use this to play Apple Music, I’d have to add it to the family anyway, because I can’t simply have a device with one account that logs in to another account for a single service.
  • To finish a new Apple account, you need a phone number to verify it (why?). To download apps from the app store (even free ones), you need to enter a billing address and phone number. Why!
  • I signed in to this account, completely detached from my family account, opened the Sonos app, and… my recently played music was in there when I selected Apple Music. This might be a thing Sonos exposes but it seems weird.
  • When iPadOS finally boots up, Apple News is dead center. This is only one of what seemed like a dozen upsells during the install process.
  • Enabling location services and then having the default weather widget be Cupertino is some “made in California” bullshit.

Anyway, it’s up and running now, I’ll see how it works out for us. It remains baffling to me that the iPad exists as this “super simple” device for kids and grandparents but also a pocketable super computer. And also why isn’t there an Apple TV with a display. Also why can’t you hide the dock. Also… I think that’s it for tonight.

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