Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sharing an iPad: iPad Love - Torn Between Two Owners

To hold and use an iPad is to love it. The instant on, long battery life, beautiful screen size and the apps make it a "go-to" device in any home that it belongs to. The laptop and desktop computers are last resort devices in a home that has an iPad. They are dreaded because of the fixed locations that they work best in, the heat that they create, the long boot up time and logging in time, the threat of viruses and popups and more. Grabbing the iPad and relaxing on the couch or bed is a normal practice and usually is done without an issue - that is if you are the only person who uses it.

In many homes, it is not that simple. Sharing the iPad creates a challenge. Who is entitled to use it first: the person who bought it or the one who "needs" it more? Who gets to use the email app for their email and who should use the Safari browser to view their email vial the web mail site? How do you organize the home screens so that apps are easily found for the intended user? Should you just buy another iPad to settle it once and for all? If you buy the iPad 2, who gets the iPad 1 and who gets the iPad 2? Should you say something when they finish your level of Angry Birds without asking? When you go to the bathroom, do you take it with you because you know they will grab it and you won't get it back for hours? Does the request for "Seeing it for one minute" turn into hours or days? These are just a few of the questions and issues that sharing parties have to contend with in regards to this new device that they both most likely thought they didn't need in the first place.

I have two women at my share that deal with these iPad challenges. One woman received the iPad 1 as a gift from her significant other, but now finds that he "requires" it more and more each day.

The second woman and her husband agreed that they would buy the iPad as a shared device, but he gets the lion share of the sharing. She wants to get the iPad 2 to settle the issue, but the new house is tying up all resources. At least for now, they have to work though the differences.

While both ladies have not had any arguments about the iPad usage patterns, they do find themselves at a crossroad that haven't existed prior to the arrival of the iPad. There are really two main issues that the sharing a single iPad create: sharing the iPad from a technical aspect and sharing the use of the iPad.

I told them I would write an article on this topic, so I have. I have found two articles that address most issues. The first article deals strictly with the technical issues of sharing email, browsers for Facebook and social sites and more. It is titled, "Five Tips for Sharing an iPad" from the Geeks are Sexy website. The tips include the following area: Browsers, E-mail, iTunes, Social Networking and Organization (of apps).

The second article offers similar technical tips, but adds some "sharing of the iPad" tips. It is titled, "Peace in the home: Sharing an iPad with your spouse", from The Unofficial Apple WebLog (TUAW).

Taking the iPad from its core single-user metaphor and sharing it between two people, even two people who love each other and collaboratively tackle the much larger challenges of raising children together, is a tall order. I've been building a list of adjustments and adaptations, in the hope that we can help other couples find their way.

Speak and be heard: Communication is the key

All of these suggestions can be distilled down to the Golden Rule of relationship reckoning: don't clam up. If you're uncomfortable with the way that you and your spouse have worked out your iPad share, be sure to have the conversation rather than letting the matter simmer for an extended period of time. If everything is working out for your arrangement, congratulations! If not... well, see the suggestion above.

Apple may eventually allow multiple profiles to support multiple parties and an additional iPad may very well make it into your home, but in the meantime you may have to co-exist with a single iPad. No technology or iPad is more important than family and loved ones; proper planning and proper communication can help make sharing an iPad a better experience. Are you sharing an iPad with your spouse or (heaven forbid!) your children? Let us know what you've learned.

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