iOS 6 Single App Mode and Guided Access

Update: For details on how to set up and use Guided Access, look here.

Apple’s Scott Forstall introduced iOS 6 yesterday at WWDC 2012, giving customers and developers a look at the future of their iPhones, iPod touches and iPads. After showing off the new Maps, Siri updates and Facebook integration, Forstall talked about Guided Access and Single App Mode. As a parent, I’m eagerly anticipating both.

These features will let customers with disabilities use their iPhones, iPod touches and iPads like never before. Scott explained that many students with autism have benefited from using the iPad. That’s something I relate to, as I was a teacher at a school for kids with autism and other developmental delays for eight years. We used all sorts of assistive communication devices, and ran into a problem that Forstall described: the kids often tapped buttons that they shouldn’t, usually inadvertently. It was frustrating for the students, the teachers and the parents.

Guided Access, a new feature in iOS 6, address the issue. It lets you identify and disable certain controls before handing over the iPad. Fantastic. Additionally, Guided Access locks the iPad into a single app. That way, the Home button can’t be pressed, pushing the student out of the app s/he should be using.

Scott mentions other use cases. For example, typical students can be “locked” into an electronic test, preventing “cheating” with Google. Likewise, it’s a great setup for a kiosk iPad at a museum.

I’m looking forward to using Guided Access and Single App Mode with my own kids. Sometimes I’ll let them play around but don’t want them switching into SMS, email or what have you. Now I can do that easily. Well done, Apple. This is something I’ve wanted for a long time.