Nov 082011

A principal in my region posed this question to me:

Is there a way to manage 2 accounts on 1 iPad.  I have an iPad for each teacher, and would like to have a school account for school purchases, and a personal account for other things.  Is this doable?  

The short answer is yes, but it’s a little messy. Sadly, it’s not as easy as just signing into multiple accounts at one time on the iPad. You can only be signed into one at a time.

The iPad will allow you to log out and in of different iTunes accounts (in the Settings app, head to ‘Store’, tap the current Apple ID, and log out) without deleting or deactivating the apps on the device. So yes, if a teacher needed to get a school paid app they could log out of the personal ID, log in with the school ID and install the app.

The problem comes when you sync. From what I’ve read, it’s possible that the apps associated with the account NOT logged into at the time of a sync would be removed from the device. I’ve read mixed outcomes with this, but this is the main problem. The good news is that if you log back into the account where the apps were deleted, you can go to the App Store app, head to the ‘Purchased’ tab and re-download the deleted apps. The bad news is that the data associated with them would be gone, even though the apps could be reinstalled.

There are some potential better ways to work around the issue. Instead of a school associated Apple ID, you could purchase iTunes Gift Cards for the amount of the apps that need to be purchased for school use. If you have $32 worth of apps for a teacher to get, you can get a $32 (or any amount from $25-$5,000) iTunes gift card from the Apple Store.

You can also ‘Gift’ any app to one or multiple people at a time through the iTunes App Store on your computer (see the attached image). You can use one school Apple ID to do the gifting, and each person can install the app free of charge.
Lastly, there is the Volume Purchasing Program where you can buy vouchers for iTunes credits and either assign a dollar amount to an Apple ID or buy the licenses that you need for an app and then pass out a code for the user to download/install the app. 

This last solution is probably the best, but the most time consuming to get going. The biggest advantage of the Volume Purchasing Program is that IF YOU CAN buy apps in volume – at least 20 at one time, you can usually get a 50% discount on EACH COPY of the app. So, if you need 12 copies you can buy 20 for the price of 10 licenses. The extra 8 licenses do not expire – you can assign them out at any time in the future, and you saved the cost of 2 off of the top.

I know that was a long answer to a short question, but those are the options as of today. Who knows… Apple may change their thinking and allow multiple ID’s to be active at the same time on an iOS device, but I doubt it. Since ALL of an accounts music, videos, apps and other purchases are available to re-download now, it would be an easy route to piracy if multiple ID’s were easily added.

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