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Guided Access - The Little Feature With Big Possibilities

By , 30 Aug 2012
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This year during Apple's WWDC conference a new feature called Guided Access was announced for iOS6. Unfortunately, the name of the feature obscures its purpose and confuses people. This built-in feature provides lock down controls for an app. It has the potential to reach a broad audience; possibly even larger than Apple can imagine. Families with small children, classrooms with interactive learning projects, and public venues such as libraries and museums can all benefit from tamper-proof locked down devices. The following sections provide an overview of the new functionality.

As it stands, Guided Access is disabled by default. It must be enabled in the Setting app. This feature is located under the General -> Accessibility section. Once activated, a passcode must be set. This passcode is separate from the overall device passcode. This passcode is the gatekeeper which allows Guided Access to stop once initiated. Below the passcode is an option to "Enable Screen Sleep," which is deactivated by default. Enabling this feature allows the device to sleep but not lose Guided Access. After an app is opened, the Guided Access setup is available by triple tapping the home button. The screenshots below display the general settings for Guided Access and the initial look of the feature.

Once in the Guided Access setup, different features are available. The Options button in the bottom left allows Touch and Motion to be disabled, respectively. These features are enabled by default. In the middle of the screen the app is displayed. Circles can be drawn with a finger on the app to specify inaccessible areas. Once these circles have been drawn, they can be removed or resized as necessary. Tapping the Start button activates Guided Access mode. Areas previously circled are shown as disabled and do not respond to tapping. Attempts to circumvent Guided Access mode will result in a popup message reminding the user that it is enabled. Without any special configuration, the app is fully functional with the exception of closing the app. To end Guided Access, the home button must be triple tapped and the passcode entered successfully. The screenshots below show the circling of different areas and the result of those options when in Guided Access mode.


Final Thoughts
In the world of software, some ideas are big and others are small. Some have great marketability and others struggle. Guided Access is available in the lower portion of Apple's iOS6 marketing materials. Although features such as turn-by-turn navigation, Siri updates, and Passbook might receive more accolades, Guided Access is a clear winner. Other features in iOS6 enhance the overall experience for existing customers. Guided Access broadens the iPad market, introducing the device to new audiences and customers. With Guided Access, Apple isn't selling a feature; it is selling peace of mind.

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

About the Author

Zac Gery

United States United States
Software Developer, Mentor, Architect and UX/UI craftsman. Also, a psychology nut that loves curling.
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