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Is there a need to have "Remember Me" and "Sign in automatically" on mobile devices, especially for tablet based applications? Skype, Fring on iPhone/Android seems to not to have these options, preferring to automatically sign you in so long as you did sign in once. You will have to "Sign Out" in order to sign in as a new user.

I understand that a mobile device is a rather personal device, but how about tablets like the iPad?

What are your thoughts?

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3 Answers

From the iPhone Human Interface Guidelines for Web Applications:

Consider using cookies to store previously input information to avoid asking for it again. You can also use cookies to remember where users were the last time they accessed your webpage or application. Cookies can help you tailor your content to users as soon as they arrive at your content.

Anyway, having a "Remember me" check selected by default won't do any harm...

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I agree that most applications don't require extra security beyond the global one, but there are some who do. Not only banking applications - CRM software might contain industrial secrets like lists of clients, projects the company is handling including costs and launch dates, etc.

There's a good pattern for such applications - require the original credentials only once and ask the user to set a short 5 digit passcode (you can also require an Android unlock instead) for future access.

This provides the extra security on the one hand and using phone style keyboard makes it very easy to type the passcode in.

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I think automatic login is much better on mobile devices.

On a touchscreen device, typing strong passwords usually frustrating and takes a long time. Predictive soft keyboard technologies don't work too well with strings like $Fo!@Oylx12. On iPad this is easier than on a phone, but it still lacks a physical keyboard

Most mobile devices are single-user by nature, and there is little point in protecting some, but not all data. Normally, protection provided by a global login mechanism is sufficient (e.g. the unlock pattern on Android).

An exception would be high-security applications like banking.

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Thanks! We are on the same page and agree that most mobile devices are single-user by nature. –  Howie Oct 14 '10 at 8:25
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