How can I prevent a user from exiting an app or accessing other apps?

There are options available when it comes to preventing a user from exiting an app or accessing other apps. These include Guided Access found in iOS 6 and later, third party accessories, iOS restrictions and organizational strategies. 

Guided Access

With iOS 6 and later, Apple has introduced Guided Access, which allows you to prevent an app from being exited by disabling the Home button on the device. By default, the Power button on the device is also disabled. To use Guided Access, it must first be turned on in the Settings app, and then enabled within the app that you want to prevent from being exited.

To turn on Guided Access, do the following:

  1. Go to the Settings app on your device's home screen.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Accessibility.
  4. Under the Learning section (scroll down if necessary), tap Guided Access.
  5. Toggle Guided Access to ON so that it shows green.
  6. Tap Passcode Settings.
  7. Tap Set Guided Access Passcode.
  8. Enter a four digit passcode. You will be prompted to enter it again.
  9. Tap Guided Access to return to the Guided Access settings.
  10. Toggle Accessibility Shortcut to green to have Guided Access appear as an option in the Accessibility Options menu when you triple-click your device's Home button.

To start Guided Access for an app and prevent it from being exited, do the following:

  1. Open the app that you want to lock in. 
  2. Quickly press your device's Home button three times to bring up the Guided Access menu.

    Note: If you have more than one option set for your Accessibility Shortcut, you will have to select Guided Access in the Accessibility Options menu when you triple- click your device's Home button.
  3. (Optional) Under Hardware Buttons, tap Options and select any of the following:
    • Toggle Sleep/Wake Button OFF (white) or ON (green) to disable/enable your device's Sleep/Wake button while in Guided Access.
    • Toggle Volume Buttons OFF (white) or ON (green) to disable/enable your device's Volume buttons while in Guided Access.
    • (iOS 8 only) Toggle Motion OFF (white) or ON (green) to disable/enable your device's motion controls, such as screen rotation, in Guided Access.
    • (iOS 8 only) Toggle Keyboards OFF (white) or ON (green) to disable/enable your device's onscreen keyboards in Guided Access.
  4. Tap the Start button in the top right corner of the screen to activate Guided Access. A message stating "Guided Access Started" will briefly appear. 

To end Guided Access for an app so it can be exited, do the following:

  1. Quickly press your device's Home button three times to bring up the Guided Access menu.

    Note: If you have more than one option set for your Accessibility Shortcut, you will have to select Guided Access in the Accessibility Options menu when you triple- click your device's Home button.
  2. Enter your four digit passcode when prompted. 
  3. Tap the End button in the top left corner of the screen to end Guided Access. A message stating "Guided Access Ended" will briefly appear.

Accessories

To prevent an iPad user from exiting an app, you may want to check out the iAdapter speaker case, which restricts access to the Home button.

You may also consider a keyguard that blocks access to the device's Home Button. Not all manufacturers include this feature in their designs, so you will have to inquire with the manufacturer when ordering a keyguard. 

iOS Restrictions and Organizational Strategies 

Beyond preventing users from exiting apps, here are some points to consider when attempting to restrict access to iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch applications:

  1. You can can block access to Safari, YouTube, iTunes, and the installation, deletion, and running of third-party apps. We strongly recommend that you turn off the ability to delete apps, as with it on, you run a very strong risk of losing app data. 

    For more information on iOS restrictions, please see this Apple support document
  2. You can move applications to a different page that can only be reached by swiping your finger across the screen. To do so, tap and hold an application until it begins to wiggle, drag it to the right edge of the screen until the screen scrolls (be careful not to press the small "X" in the top-left corner of an application – this brings up the delete application dialog box), and then release to place the application on a new page. Once you are finished making changes, press your device's Home button to save your arrangement.

    In addition, when your device is plugged into your computer, you can move applications to a different page by clicking on your device in iTunes' left sidebar, clicking the Apps tab, and then dragging an app icon to a page on the right hand side of the screen. You can then reorder the pages by dragging them up or down in the list. 

    On your device and computer, you can also place apps into folders by dragging and holding an app over another until a panel opens up showing the apps contained in the folder. You can rename the folder by tapping in the name field. Combined with moving apps to a different page, this can be a good way for keeping apps out of sight.

Note: While preventing a user from accessing other apps is needed for some individuals and can be a useful first step in learning how to use a device, data shows many users benefit from having access to multiple apps and each situation should be judged on a case-by-case basis. Although it may take some effort, proper use of the Home button is a learning opportunity (though it can be a challenging one) and caregivers and professionals should continue to carefully monitor which users require restricted access to the Home button and for how long. This is something to carefully consider as once used appropriately, access to the Home button delivers a world of app opportunities.

 

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