Note: I originally wrote this for iOS 6 and the instructions are the same for iOS7!
Problem: Using iPads on the floor requires a docent who closely supervises visitors who interact with the device. Visitors, whether accidentally or intentionally, may misuse an app or device. Museums go to great lengths to prevent misuse as we want our visitors to focus on learning at hand. There are many hardware solutions to protect your device from physical abuse or accidental “Home Screening” or power off. Many exterior accessories exist like kiosk enclosures or protective casing to address this, but that’s not the topic of this article.
What about app misuse? Whether the visitor intends to exit an app, unintentionally exits an app, or uses the app in a way that could possibly open another app like Facebook, there’s not much a docent can do to prevent this. It’s really hard to find an accessory that’s meant to be carried by a docent while blocking the power and home button. Additionally, if an app has an online component for sharing or viewing content in different apps, there’s the possibility that the user could launch Facebook, Dropbox, or the Safari web browser.
Solution: How does a docent prevent this? Easily: Guided Access. Before running an app, a docent could enable Guided Access to disable the home and power buttons: a visitor would be unable to exit the app or turn the iPad off. Who hasn’t shown off an app and accidentally hit the Home button or power button? GA also prevents multi-finger swipes (like the four finger swipe up to open the app dock on the bottom or fast switch between apps). It also allows the docent to block certain parts of app. For example, on the top right of many apps, there’s usually a “Share” or “Open In” icon that would allow access to other apps. Sharing is great for your personal iPad: who doesn’t want the share their doodles on Facebook?! But for a museum, that may be problematic (Although, I would also challenge museums to find ways to incorporate social sharing into their floor programs). While setting up Guided Access, you can draw a circle around the interface element you want to block, like the sharing icon. iOS then recognizes which element you’re blocking, and auto-magically, sets up a dark square preventing its use! If it doesn’t recognize the interface element, it’ll just block out the area drawn and this doesn’t always look pretty. It’ll also remember which areas are blocked for each app! Unfortunately, there is a big caveat on screen blocking and I’ll talk about it later.
How do you set up Guided Access?
1) Tap your Settings icon on your home screen, then tap on “General”
2) Scroll down to “Accessibility”
3) Under the heading “Learning”, tap “Guided Access.”
4) Toggle Guided Access to “On”
5) Set your four digit passcode. (Optional, you can toggle whether you want the screen to sleep while in GA mode)
6) Go back to your home screen then open the app you wish to use.
7) Hit the Home button three times (rather quickly)
8) Select the options you want and draw circles around the interface elements you want to block.
9) Hit Start (It may prompt you to set a passcode if you haven’t already).
10) When you’re don’t want to use GA anymore, triple click the Home button again, enter the passcode, and tap “End”
There is one big caveat: if you block an interface element in the middle of the screen, this blocked area will stay there regardless of where you are in the app. And, you’ll see it as dark area . It’s fine if the blocked button appears in all of an app’s screens in the same location, but if you want to block something in the middle, the button moves around the screen as you navigate the app, or button changes functionality, then just know that it’ll only block that specific screen real estate and then the blocking function becomes a burden rather than an asset. I think this works well with search boxes or buttons on the top or sides of a screen, but be careful when blocking something in the middle of the screen or an interface element that could potentially change locations or change functionality. I’ll post screen shots of this.
Hope this helps you all!
Edit: Posted the pictures below. Sorry for the quality, but taking screen caps the traditional way (Home Button and Power button simultaneously), didn’t work for me in these screens.