Using Guided Access for an instant iPad kiosk on your personal device

Guided Access is a new feature in iOS 6 that makes it easy to create an instant kiosk from your personal iPad. Apple announced Guided Access for parents who want to entertain their kids with the iPad, but not let them out of the app they are playing with. As a parent, the utility was obvious. I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten my iPad back from my kids with some gibbersh email composed to the whole company.

We have found there are actually a couple of ways to lock an iPad and create a reliable kiosk with the home button disabled. The method we recommend to lock the iPad is with App Lock. We have a blog post showing how you enable App Lock and some of the features it provides with our iPad Mini Unboxing video.

However, once in awhile you want to lock down your personal tablet temporarily. Guided Access is perfect for these ad hoc moments when you want to lock down your iPad so no one can get out of the app or access your personal data, but can’t use App Lock. In fact, Guided Access is a consumer-friendly version of App Lock, intended for ad-hoc iPad locking. You might be at an event or a sales meeting when you would find Guided Access really useful.

You can use Guided Access with any app. Here are the steps to enable Guided Access and start it:

  1. Tap on Settings
  2. Select General
  3. Scroll down to Accessibility
  4. Under the Learning section, tap on Guided Access
  5. At the top, flip the switch for Guided Access to ON
  6. If this is the first time you have enabled Guided Access, iOS will ask you to enter a passcode. This passcode keeps users from closing Guided Access and unlocking the whole tablet. Don’t forget your passcode, or you will have to wipe your iPad and start all over to disable Guided Access.
  7. Now, close settings and open the app you want to put into Guided Access mode.
  8. With your app open, triple-tap the home button.
  9. The screen now shows you the app and a few settings for Guided Access. Not only can you lock the home button and notification center, but you can also disable touch entirely or for a few areas. This is really handy for the times when you want to disable a section of an app or a specific button.
  10. Just hit start and your app is now in Guided Access mode.
  11. To disable Guided Access mode simply triple-tap the home button again and tap the End button in the upper-left corner.

As you can see, Guided Access is super simple to turn on and off. It’s not really ideal for situations when you want a tablet running in locked down mode all the time. When people hit the home button they get a black warning window that it is in Guided Access mode and they are prompted to triple-tap the home button to disable it. Not only does the message disrupt the experience you are trying to create, but if they triple-tap the button and it brings up the passcode dialog to unlock Guided Access, the next person to walk up to the iPad will see the passcode box and not your experience.

Guided Access is really handy, but it alone does not create a reliable way to lock down your iPad and use it as a single-purpose device. Let us know if you want more information about using App Lock or other methods to lock down your tablets.

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About the Author: Michael Girdley