iPads (as well as the iPad Mini and iPod Touch for that matter) can be compelling tools for learning but as teachers look to use an iPad or group of iPads among a group of students and across several classes, these iOS devices do not initially present themselves as a tool for multiple users. Essentially, media files saved locally on the camera roll or photos application are accessible to all users. Currently, iOS 7 does not have the ability to discern between different users. Restrictions settings in iOS 7 offers some differentiation between an iPad administrator (ex. teacher or IT administrator) and the student, but that is more for limiting access to core features of the device and operating system. When it comes to providing separate accounts for students to save and access their own work on an iOS device, iOS 7 falls short. As we look to iOS 8 for a hopeful solution, a handy feature called Passcode Lock is found within some of Google’s applications for iOS and provides a temporary solution for teachers and educators.
What is Passcode Lock?
This is a setting that is found within the Google Drive, Google Docs and Google Sheets applications for iOS. This feature allows a Google user to lock access to their Google Drive using a 4-digit code. Even if several students log into their Google account through either the Google Drive, Google Docs or Google Sheets app on an iOS device, having each student set their passcode will ensure that only they will be able to access their work and files.
How to set up Passcode Lock
What Google Drive and Passcode does right…
Google’s execution of the Passcode feature illustrates the proficiency of the Google account (and Google Apps for Education) and the ability for Google to quickly push new features and coordinate settings across their apps. Case in point, the Passcode Lock was quietly introduced through a simple application update for Google Drive for iOS (and Android) back in April 2014. Since the passcode is linked to the user’s Google account, once the user opts to activate this feature on the Google Drive app it automatically applies to the user’s account when accessing the Google Doc and the Google Sheets applications as well. If a student forgets their passcode, they can simply remove their account from the application and sign back in again with their login and password.
But keep in mind…
Passcodes are set locally to the iPad so if a student moves to another iPad they will also need to set another passcode for that iPad. This may require some coordination on the part of the teacher if they are looking to have certain groups of students linked to specific iPads.
For those looking for a comprehensive multiuser experience on the iPad, Google’s Passcode Lock feature will really only apply to accessing files from the Google Drive application as well as creating and editing Google documents and spreadsheets. Unfortunately, Passcode Lock will not extend to other 3rd party applications that also link to Google Drive as a cloud-based storage.
In the end…
With Google Classroom due for release in September 2014, Passcode Lock adds a small yet important feature for those looking for a more secure way to manage multiple users and Google accounts. Google I/O 2014 provided some insight on some upcoming features for Google Drive including better support for native documents created in Microsoft Office. Ultimately, there are some exciting new updates and features in store for Google Drive and with that, the Passcode Lock is a great feature to support this in a multiuser environment.