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I have a new feature in our iOS app, where we are uplifting user data from their device to the cloud. The process could take up to a minute, or 2 mins as an absolute extreme case.

A use case is that a user has two devices running our app and on one device they are in the process of the cloud uplift, and on the other, they open our app.

I want the second device to show an alert (or whatever notification makes sense) to essentially block the user from using the app, because the other device is being uplifted to the cloud.

After the process on the first device is complete, the second device would resume as normal.

Has anyone ever seen an alert that is not dismissible or experienced this in the past where the app simply goes into a dormant stage with a message saying you can't use this app until the other device has finished completing a process?

I'm assuming it'll be an alert with no buttons. Is there a better experience I could use or is this what a user would expect?

Thanks in advance.

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Yes, it's very common in cases like you mentioned, where you're accessing the app from different devices.

How to present the messages varies. The most common cases are:

App can be used on multiple devices at the same time:

In this situation, you can use the app on multiple devices, but you can't run some features simultaneously. Often, when this happens, the second device stops, and a FULL SCREEN appears on mobile explaining why. On the desktop version, the app displays a smaller message, typically a dialog box or a toast. For the first case, Upwork app is a good example, while ChatGPT is a good example of the second case.

App can be used on multiple devices with concurrent running:

For this scenario, I've seen mixed approaches. Sometimes there's no message at all; they simply run slower than usual, which gives users a hint. You can observe this behavior in Midjourney: since they operate on credits, they aren't concerned about account sharing. In fact, they might prefer you to deplete your credits faster.

Other instances involve the app informing you of concurrent processes. Some apps specify which ones and might even allow you to terminate one of the processes.

App cannot be used on multiple devices at the same time

In this situation, users often receive a full-screen alert or another highly noticeable notification. Typically, these apps don't permit users to access from different devices. If they do, they ask for credentials and make the process more cumbersome to deter account sharing.

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  • Great answer Devin and thank you for taking the time to reply in such detail. You wrote: "App cannot be used on multiple devices at the same time In this situation, users often receive a full-screen alert or another highly noticeable notification." Do you happen to know what is the best messaging pattern for iOS? Has any one seen a native iOS app display a message in the use case described in the question? thank you Sep 18, 2023 at 22:24
  • Upwork iOS app does that
    – Devin
    Sep 18, 2023 at 23:12
  • I have Upwork running on my iPhone and iPad. In what scenario would one app lock me out while the other does an operation? Thanks Sep 21, 2023 at 21:11
  • when you use the hourly tracker
    – Devin
    Sep 22, 2023 at 1:15

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