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Android’s Multiple User Accounts Shown Off On Video – All But Confirmed For Future Versions of Android

Here we go, guys. This is where we separate the kiddie mobile OS’s from the big boys: multiple user accounts. We’ve heard about it. We’ve dreamed about it. We want it. The good news is that we recently discovered early versions of it already baked into Jelly Bean AOSP, so we know Google has, at the very least, been toying around with the idea.

Today, a developer over on XDA managed to activate the sleeping code, getting multiple user accounts to appear in the power menu (activated when holding down the power button), and although it should work on any AOSP ROM (CM10, AOKP) there’s not much functionality. He showed off his handiwork in a video tutorial and after typing out a few lines of code in Terminal Emulator, you too can get multiple users accounts up and running on your ROM. Check it out.

Another user managed to get it up and running on his Galaxy Nexus and provided some info on what’s working and what isn’t.

I found that in the second account there are apps that I don’t have in the primary account, for example: Google Wallet, Play Magazines, Play Books and Play Films. (I’m from Belgium)
Oh, they disappeared as soon as I signed in with my Google account.

If you are on the second user, most of the data from the primary user is hidden (you can not acces it).
For example:
- photo’s
- unlocked levels in Angry Birds
- music
- contacts
- google account
- clipboard
- home screen

But there are a few exceptions:
- all the apps are there, as if they were just installed
- the recent apps menu
- the use-app-as-default-setting (I don’t know the official name). For example: if you set Apex as default in the Guest account, it will also be default in the primary account.
- your messages (!)

Google software engineer Amith Yamasani actually addressed multiple user accounts after a dev attempted to submit a patch to AOSP tweaking the order of the power menu while multiple accounts were enabled. After rejecting the patch, Yamasani warned that, “Multi-user feature is not ready for deployment. Bad things will happen if you use it in its current state!” Yamasani went on to confirm that the Android user experience team has the final say on the UI for multiple UA’s and it will most likely change in the future. Shweeet…

The convenience of having multiple user accounts is something Android tablet users, specifically those with families, have been asking for awhile now. While it wouldn’t make much sense for smartphone users (other than having, say, a work accounts along with personal one) it looks like the possibility of multiple user accounts is all but certain in future versions of Android. Key Lime Pie perhaps?

[XDA Developers | Via Slashgear | TheVerge]




  • Damon Lewis

    Multiuser on my tablet would be awesome. Not to hope that it comes out in 4.2/5.0 and that my Galaxy Tab 10.1 gets update to that (more likely to get 4.2 than 5.0 update).

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      I wonder if it would cut into tablet sales now that some families would feel like they only need one tab for the whole family.

      For some reason, I see OEM’s blocking this functionality in the future..

      • oneillperson

        That is, until everyone buys the tablets that DO allow it. It’s a major feature that will be a deciding factor when choosing a tablet to buy. In the long run it would hurt OEM’s to leave out such a crucial feature.

      • http://profiles.google.com/daniel142005 Daniel Weisinger

        Microsoft & Apple haven’t, both have a history of being some of the greediest out there. oneillperson is right, however charging extra for it on devices tied to wireless carriers is a different story.

        • http://www.facebook.com/archercc Ryan Stewart

          Well I dont think most people would balk on the phone anyway because we dont often share thsoe but with tablets being the common “screwing around” computer in homes it would be a pretty big ding to a tablet to be missing a feature like that.
          You could easily advertise it and it would be something to hold over Apple, until they develop their own method, patent it and claim they own the concept of multiple user accounts.

      • Lennatron

        Nexus, Nexus, Nexus :-)

      • samagon

        I doubt it will hurt tablet sales, parents are still going to want to have their own device, rather than letting their kid break theirs.

  • bob

    That was my EXACT thought when I saw this. I literally said out loud “cool maybe I don’t have to buy my kids each a tablet after all” ha!

    • Eric Silva

      Exactly! Now I will have a separate account for my 3 year old when she jacks my HP Touchpad. Although this does diminish my leverage in potentially getting a Nexus 7.

  • Bluetruck86

    Could it be a new PC platform coming out? Windows, get ready.

    • Chris Rogers

      No.

  • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

    If the User Account switching isn’t seamless, or it isn’t advertised/discoverable enough, I have a feeling most people will be content to just keep on sharing a single “TheSmithFamily123@gmail.com” account.

  • Modman

    Android is Linux I don’t see why it shouldn’t be multiuser.

    That functionality is probably just locked like the root user.

    I wonder of it was just removed or hidden maybe not in the GUI command line in earlier versions of android.

    • http://profiles.google.com/daniel142005 Daniel Weisinger

      If it was there before someone would of likely found it, the entire source of Android, including the Linux Kernel it uses, is available online… unless I’m misunderstanding what you’re saying…

  • PhishyKris

    This may finally steer some K12 districts toward android. They struggle with iOS not having the ability to manage profiles. Very interesting Google.

  • John Toxworthy

    On a phone this seems rather pointless as mobile phones tend to be single user.
    This is a leap towards an overall OS though.

    • donovan shore

      How about having an account for you, and an account for you child? Like to play angry birds or something in a car and not be able to look at your MikandI apps. Plus the point of 4.0+ is to be one OS that runs cross platform, So having user accounts on a tablet means you would have on a phone or whatever else android would come on my default.

  • EasyEEE

    Sigh … Anyone check for a patent that allows multiple user login during boot sequence for rectangular shaped mobile devices?

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      I’m too scared to look O_o

      • Lennatron

        I love this guy :-)

    • JulianZHuang

      *apple sent money under the table*

      patent granted to apple.

  • Alexander Ramirez

    Heeheee… you called it a kiddie mobile OS…

  • samagon

    dude, so I can create a guest account for people who ask to use my phone, but I KNOW they are going to post something obscene on facebook, or I don’t want them to access photos?

    how about a built in mode that the phone will put the phone on silent based on location (work, movie theater, or church for instance)?

  • No_Nickname90

    Key Lime Pie!? MoFo you trippin. This needs to come out now!! LoL!!

    I kid. I can’t wait until December when Key Lime Pie comes out and gets ahead of all the Android devices… again. LoL!! I’m hoping it’s more of a 4.2 thing…