One of the most oft-requested features up to this point, especially for family iPads, is multi-user support baked into iOS. And yet, Apple has yet to add it.
But it looks like it might come to fruition, albeit in an unlikely source. As was first reported by AppleInsider, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has recently granted a patent from Apple entitled “User profiling for voice input processing”. Technically speaking, this idea is focusing more on Siri accuracy rather than a broader multi-user support functionality, but that is certainly part of the mix.
The patent itself details Siri’s ability to provide accurate, personalized responses to different voices. This would allow for certain features, too, including the potential to limiting queries when a certain voice requests Siri’s assistance. Of course, Siri already has the ability to recognize a person’s voice against other non-recognized voices, so this appears to be a simple extension of that feature.
The patent details that Siri would be able to recognize a voice, or respond in a certain way based on the individual. The system would recognize each individual user by either recognizing certain commands, biometric voice print, or a username and password combo. A library of past commands would then be accessed on a per-user basis, allowing for Siri to offer up more personalized and accurate responses based on who is accessing the digital personal assistant.
Multi-user support isn’t just for the iPad used by the whole family, either. Apple recently launched its first smart speaker, the HomePod, and during the setup process for the device you have to give it permission to be able to read potentially sensitive information (like text messages and calendar entries) by anyone who asks, not just the person who set up the smart speaker.
Unfortunately, like so many other Apple patents out there this doesn’t actually mean we’re going to see this feature anytime soon, if we ever do.
It’s honestly a little frustrating that Apple has ignored multi-user support on iOS for so long. It’s a standard feature on a Mac, and Apple knows that there are many iPads, and even iPhones(!), that are being used as familial tools that would benefit from having specific use cases per person. But here we are in 2018 and, beyond a recent patent and rumors that didn’t pan out, there doesn’t appear to be any sign that Apple is actually working on this feature.
Is multi-user support something you’re hoping gets added to iOS soon?