Being accountable on the iPhone/iPad has been a challenge for many iOS users. The challenge is due to the way Apple has designed their operating system (iOS). As a provider for the iPhone/iPad devices, we have seen the issues with providing a solution for this device upfront.

So what’s the big deal?

Why can’t you have complete accountability for the Apple device like you can for the Android device? This is the question we see on a regular basis.  On Android we are allowed to see all activity from all apps. Android has special services that, with the correct permissions enabled, allow an accountability app to monitor the device effectively. Apple is different. The reason for the difference is in the way Apple built their operating system. Think of each app as a box. The app can see everything inside its box, but it can’t see anything outside. So to provide an app that has accountability, the only solution is to have a custom app (our A2U custom browser app) that can provide some form of accountability inside its own box. This is why most of the accountability solutions (if not all of them) have a custom browser that takes the place of Safari and other browser apps. That is why we suggest restricting out all other browsers so the user can be as accountable as possible. The issue with this is that Apple has built its core features around Safari, so by restricting this app (Safari)  you cause other apps to not function as optimally as we’d like.

Here at Accountable2You our goal is to stay out of the way of the user so they can use their device freely. So the custom app approach, while effective, isn’t ideal.

Thinking outside the box…

Different accountability providers have come up with different ways to overcome the box limitation. We have found that a VPN solution works the best for our users.  This allows the user to use Safari (or any browser they choose). It also allows them to use apps that they would have to restrict under the custom browser approach. The disadvantage to this approach is that some apps will not work. Some banking apps and video apps (Netflix, Hulu, etc…) typically have issues in the VPN environment. All that being said, this approach tends to be the best that we have seen and one that we are utilizing for our users.

When it comes to full device accountability, specifically text messages and call logs, neither the VPN solution or a custom browser will work.

GPS accountabilityReal time GPS Tracking/Location accountability

Being accountability while you are on the road is also very important in one’s integrity. This is why our iOS app has GPS/Location accountability built into it. We plot the route you take on a map that is easy for the accountability partner to see. Being responsible for all our actions is what we are all about, and location tracking is a feature we have found to be very beneficial in this endeavor!  This is an optional feature, not one that is required to run the software.

Final thoughts

We admit that providing accountability for iOS is a challenge.  As technology changes we look for any opportunity to provide a richer accountability solution. We tell users who are looking to purchase a new device to buy Android specifically because of the “box” issue with Apple. If Apple modifies their iOS platform to allow a richer accountability solution we’d gladly recommend them as well.

As always your comments are welcome below.

4 Comments

  • Laura says:

    So this doesn’t work at all with Apple? 2 of my teens use Apple and switching to android isn’t an option at this time. It works great on my sons android tablet.

    • Accountable2You says:

      Hi Laura,

      Accountable2You does work with iOS devices, but in a more limited fashion than with Android devices. Here is a breakdown of how Accountable2You can work on an iOS device (which includes iPhones, iPads & iPods):

      1. Official Accountable2You app: The official app that is available now through the App Store is actually a browser that is designed to take the place of Safari. Since Apple will not let us monitor the entire device, the only activity that will be monitored is the web browsing that takes place inside of the AU browser, and nothing outside. We highly recommend that users take advantage of Apple’s “Restrictions” feature (located in the Settings menu of the device) to disable Safari, and also the download of new applications (to prevent new browsers from being downloaded). While not ideal, this is the only effective way to ensure web browsing remains accountable.
      2. Beta VPN Service: As mentioned in the article, we are currently beta testing a new method of monitoring. This method of monitoring will still not be able to monitor applications, texts, phone records, etc., however it will be able to monitor all internet browsing activity, regardless of the browser being used. This will eliminate the need for the special AU browser and will allow users to use the browser that they prefer the most, while still providing accountability.

      We still highly recommend Android phones to those users who have an option, as they will always be much more conducive to accountability. However, for users with iOS devices, these systems do work and can help provide a solid accountability solution on the devices.

      If you have any specific questions or need any help in setting up, please contact us at [email protected] and we would be happy to assist.

  • Jared says:

    The biggest issue I have encountered with iOS is that with many apps a browser is embedded. Other monitoring software does not monitor that browser (which I believe is still Chrome).

    would the Beta VPN successfully monitor the activity within apps that have their own browsers?

    • accountable2you says:

      Hi Jared,

      Yes our new VPN solution will monitor in app browsers including Chrome. If you have any specific questions or need any help in setting up, please contact us at [email protected] and we would be happy to assist.
      – Accountable2You Team

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