What my iDevices need

I’ve got a few iDevices (iPad, iPhone) and I realise that this is the “post-PC” era, and the devices are just being invented. We don’t know what to do with them just yet or how to work with them best. Here’s a feature I need. I write it on my blog rather than send it to Apple, because they get mad if you do.

I need a “guest mode” on my device. If I want to hand it to a friend to browse the web, or give it to my kids to play games, I don’t want it running in the same mode as when I use it. That is, I don’t want my kids to be able to to make phone calls, read my emails, send text messages or any of that. They can play Angry Birds and browse the web, but I don’t want them to mess with any of the open browser windows I have. They need to open new ones.

There are some firms where the executives have iPads and they’re able to read their very confidential emails from that device. Maybe it’s through Outlook Web Access and the device’s web browser, maybe it’s the actual mail application. We in the security industry worry about the device getting stolen and we’re slowly seeing the necessary features being introduced to handle that situation. There’s a long way to go, though.

What we’re not covering is what happens when the owner intentionally hands it over to someone who shouldn’t have access to some of the stuff on it. Like her kids, his wife, or a friend at a bar who wants to see that funny youtube video. They’re only a few (innocent or not innocent) taps away from seeing confidential information.

Now, I don’t have all that much proprietary information, but I have lots of different circles of colleagues, friends, and family. Some of them should not see certain things on my iDevices, but it’s a risk I take every time I hand it over.