iOS 6: Accessibility Changes, And How Guided Access Helps

Accessibility has always been one of Apple’s hallmark features. They’ve touted the abilities of the iPhone and iPad to radically improve disabled users’ access to information and learning. As a part of the Accessibility Setting this time around, Guided Access looks to add another tool in fine-tuning accessibility settings. Guided Access essentially lets you disable hardware buttons, motion, and even touch altogether. This is going to be an easily sell for parents that want to let their kids watch movies or read books on the iPad, but are worried about them dropping out to play games or surf the web.

Turning on Guided Access is pretty easy. It is set up within the Accessibility section of the Settings app. You can then enable Guided Access, set up the passcode, and prevent the device from going to sleep. If you don’t set a passcode at this time, it will prompt you each time you enable Guided Access to set a passcode. Once this is done, go into any app and triple tap the Home button. This brings up the Guided Access configuration. At this point you can leave touch and motion enabled, and basically put the iPad into a Kiosk mode, forcing them to enter a passcode to leave the app. It gives you the option to draw a circle around the area you’d like to disable touch for; oddly that then brings up a rectangle you can resize.

Once the Guided Access mode is on, if you hit the Home button, a prompt explains that Guided Access is enabled and you must triple tap the Home button to exit. If you have sleep enabled, the lock button will work normally. However hitting the button will put the iPad right back into the app, no lock screen, no passcode required. Triple Tap Home again, enter your password, and the iPad goes back to normal functionality.

That Triple Tap is getting a bit crowded for accessibility, but I think that Guided Access isn’t meant to be configured by the actual end user. It doesn’t even seem that Guided Access is necessarily an accessibility feature. There are plenty of other applications that IT Managers are conjuring up right now, alhough only allowing your boss to use his email is likely going to get you marched out by security. Parents and teachers seem like the main audience here, and it’s dead simple for them to set up and control Guided Access.

Mac geek? Gamer? Why not both? Mike is a writer from Wisconsin who enjoys wasting immense amounts of time on the Internet. You can follow him on Twitter.