As Apple Kick Starts their Back to School Mac and iPad Pro Specials, Two Patents Surface Covering new 'EDU Mode'
Just as Apple launches their back to school specials giving students free wireless headphones from Beats when buying a new Mac or iPad Pro, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office publishes a pair of Apple inventions for the education market. The patents describe a new 'Educational Mode' available to schools to better handle traffic congestion when multiple classes of students are trying to save their lessons all at the same time to disk or the cloud.
Modern classrooms utilize tablet computers as teaching tools in the classroom. Many schools will purchase a single tablet computer for each seat in a classroom, rather than requiring each student to purchase her own tablet computer. When a class begins, each student in the class will log in to the tablet device at her seat in the classroom. When a class ends, students will all log out, saving their work to disk and/or synchronizing their work to cloud storage. The students will then leave the tablet computer at their respective seats in the classroom. When the next class in the classroom begins, each student of the next class will log in to use the tablet computer at her respective seat in the classroom.
When a class ends, the saving to disk and/or synchronizing to cloud storage of the work of all students in the classroom can cause a spike in classroom network usage that slows down the network and saving process. Further, student work, or classwork, such as animations, graphics, video, and other data can be very large, both on a per student basis and on a total for the classroom basis, further delaying the saving of the student data for a class. A tablet computer typically does not have sufficient computing resources to allow a previous student's computing processes to complete and to defer logout of the previous student, while simultaneously allowing a subsequent student to log in and begin work on the same tablet computer. Also, current tablet computers do not offer per-user data encryption on the tablet computer.
The Solution: Educational Mode Computing for Macs and iPads
Apple's invention for the education market covers systems and methods for implementing an educational mode on a portable computing device, such as a tablet computer, that is a single-user system, used serially by multiple users. Each user can have a separate user storage that may be encrypted. The computing device boots as a system user to a login screen. A first student user can enter their user credentials into the login screen. The computing device can reboot the user-space processes, while leaving the kernel running, rebooting the computing device as the first student user. When the first student user logs out, data to be synchronized to, e.g., the cloud or local network storage, can be synchronized for the first student user while a second student user is logged into the device. In an embodiment, data to be synchronized to, e.g. the cloud or local network storage, can be synchronized for the first user while the computing device is booted to the login screen as the system user. Management of the boot and reboot processes can be performed by a user manager daemon.
A synchronization manifest can include a synchronization task for each data source for a first student user. A synchronization task can include information that enables a synchronization daemon to access the data to be synchronized, and obtain an access key or keys to the service that will be used in the synchronization. The synchronization manifest can be persisted across users such that when a second student user logs in, the synchronization manifest of the first user can be processed to synchronize the first user's data while the second student user utilizes the device. The synchronization manifest for a first user can be stored in system storage, the client device user-space can be rebooted to a second user, then the tasks in the manifest of the first user can be performed while the second user performs her work. In an embodiment, the manifest tasks of the first user are performed in the background of user-space, while the work of the second user is performed in the foreground of user-space.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below illustrates, in block form, an educational computing environment; FIG. 2 illustrates, in block form, internal components of a client system in an educational computing environment.
Apple's patent FIGS. 3A to 3F illustrate example displays of a method of logging in and logging out of users of a client system in an educational computing environment.
For more detail on Apple's patents covering the education market see "Log in/Log out Process for Education Mode," and/or "Switching users and Sync Bubble for Education Mode." Apple's patents were originally filed in January 2016. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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