14
May
1

Multi-user support is one of the most interesting additions in Jelly Bean 4.2, but you can only get it if you're using a tablet. It makes sense - phones are rarely shared between more than one person, while tablets are naturally shareable. Even so, it would be nice if Google gave users the option. But thanks to modder extraordinaire Paul "Modaco" O'Brien, there's a relatively easy way to enable multi-user mode on smartphones. It's detailed on the Modaco blog, but all you need to get started is a phone running Android 4.2 and root permissions.

n4-usersadd1 n4-usersadd2 n4-userswitchmenu

First, download and install the Xposed Framework, a Swiss army knife for modders and the basis of this modification.  Next, download the Modaco Toolkit, a module for the Xposed app. Open Xposed and tap "install/update" to enable all of its mod goodies. Then tap the Modules pane, enable the Modaco Tooklit, and tap "Google Nexus (all)". Finally, enable "Show users on power menu" and reboot your phone. If all goes well, you should see the Users option in your phone's Settings menu, enabling the multi-user mode seen on the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10.

Paul O'Brien tested this method out on his Nexus 4 (probably running Modaco's flavor of Android 4.2) and I tried it on my own Galaxy Nexus, running an AOKP build that's a few weeks behind. In both cases, the mod worked. That leads me to believe that it should function on most AOSP-based ROMs. Whether it will work on other 4.2 phones like the Galaxy S4 or HTC One remains to be seen - all the technical elements are there, but manufacturer skins have a way of gumming up the works. Are there any root users out there willing to give it a try? If so, head on over to Modaco's site and give some feedback, if you'd be so kind.

Xposed Framework

Modaco Toolkit

Modaco - How to enable multi-user support on your Nexus 4 (+ other 4.2 devices?)

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • http://twitter.com/xplodwild Guillaume

    Technically, any source-built ROM can just enable the "multiuser" flag in the framework to provide multiuser UI and features... But I still don't get 'why' that on a phone?

    • gspida

      Because I can! Uhhh na na na na!

    • http://twitter.com/GRZLA Grizzly Atoms

      Its for sneaky people who be sneaking.

    • Martim Cortez de Lobão

      Personally, I just want to have a guest mode that I can use whenever I let someone borrow my phone.

      • http://twitter.com/PaulOBrien Paul O’Brien

        You can do that with this really, just create a new user called 'Guest'. :)

        • Martim Cortez de Lobão

          Good enough for me! :) I don't seem to be able to switch users through the power menu though, I have to reboot to switch back to my main user. Any idea what the problem might be? I'm on CM 10.1 on a Nexus 4.

          • http://twitter.com/PaulOBrien Paul O’Brien

            CM changes to the power menu breaking it I guess.

            P

          • Martim Cortez de Lobão

            Darn :(

          • Martim Cortez de Lobão

            Aha, found it! I had to enable a new option for user switching in the power menu system preferences. Nice job! :)

          • http://twitter.com/PaulOBrien Paul O’Brien

            Excellent, I'll add that to the toolkit post.

            P

          • Andrew Kachaniwsky

            Ensure you have enabled the Modaco toolkit in the Xposed app after you have installed both.

      • anon

        I second this......

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      I have a very specific use case in mind which this is perfect for.

      My wife was traveling to Europe last year, and since she's on Sprint, her phone wasn't compatible. I wanted to give her my Galaxy Nexus (not my primary phone), but it had my stuff on it. I ended up wiping it and really wished Android had multiuser. Then wiping again and putting my stuff on it (though I could have used a nandroid backup/restore, but that's still hassle).

      Then Android 4.2 came along, but still had no multiuser on phones. An easy hack like this is perfect.

      Another case is just having a dedicated phone for visiting friends and relatives. Just pop a sim card, create a user, let them use it, then wipe the user, and voila.

    • http://petercast.net Peterson Silva

      Kids? :) That was the first thing that came to mind.

    • Floss

      I hand my kids my phone much more often then I hand them my tablet simply because I have my phone with me everywhere I go.

    • http://twitter.com/PaulOBrien Paul O’Brien

      Ahhhh, you don't have kids. :) Also, enabling the multiuser flag gives you the option to manage users, but not switch (on a phone, it does on a tablet).

    • Andrew Kachaniwsky

      I work in a position where I'm using multiple Android devices every day, and they are often changing hands and being used to demo various new features. This is an AWESOME way to set up a guest profile on a smartphone and hand it off to somebody else and when I get it back they haven't logged me out of facebook, and read my email, and changed my live wallpaper, etc etc.

  • flosserelli

    Paul O'Brien's ingenuity never ceases to amaze me.

    • http://twitter.com/PaulOBrien Paul O’Brien

      Thanks, friend! :)

  • Harsha

    In my GS2 running CM10.1 I could see the "user" in settings. Was able to create a new user. But there was no way I could switch users. And even after enabling the option under "Google Nexus (all) I couldn't see the users under power menu. Bummer.

    Thankfully the OS loaded with main user when I simply rebooted. Else I would have been stuck in void with test user!

    • http://twitter.com/PaulOBrien Paul O’Brien

      Enable the new user switching option in CM power menu preferences.

      P

      • Harsha

        Yes that did it! Thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000641679519 Marc Anderson

    What if I tried this on a tablet? I know Tablets already have multiuser but I have a very specific case which makes the current method a bit cumbersome.

    I dont like to have a lockscreen on my tablet and I have my main account that I use with the tablet 90% of the time. However my dad also uses his account aswell, only ocasionally.

    Obviously then Android doesnt let me turn the lockscreen off if mutiuser is active. Will this mod be able to bypass this because I think it would be much easier if I could switch account using the power menu.

    • http://twitter.com/PaulOBrien Paul O’Brien

      Using this mod will give you the power menu switch, but you probably still won't be able to disable the lock screen. Try it!

      If that is the case, I can probably fix it, request it on the MoDaCo Toolkit topic.

      p

  • RitishOemraw

    Hope 4.3 will come with multi-user support for phones.....

    • Android Developer

      it didn't . do you know perhaps of a way it will work for all devices (I have SGS3 with 4.3) ?

  • http://twitter.com/Bobby_Phoenix Bobby Phoenix

    Is multiusers different than multiprofiles like in CM?

  • tintin.92

    "Whether it will work on other 4.2 phones like the Galaxy S4 or HTC One remains to be seen "

    HTC One has 4.2?

  • Phartat Misassa

    A perfect use case for multi-user support is the current project I am working on (granted I am a student so it will take longer than a seasoned developer).

    The project is un-officially called "CyAnDeKaLi", it is in my mind going to be a perfect chemistry of CyanogenMod, Android, Debian, and Kali Linux, hence the name is a blend of my favorit elements of computing.

    Much of the Linux side of this profect requires a user with authentication, the only way around it is to always run the Linux programs and Deamons as root.

    Also, networking Daemons and services need to have their "user" granted permissions to do stuff like open sockets to access databases as is the case with 'postgresql" when trying to open the Metasploit db. Also the NFS and SSL Daemons need permissions to create their home directorys without the new files and dirs ownership being set to root upon creation, this prevents the Daemons from opening their home dirs to access config files and such, this can be seen if you bind the dirs in a linux chroot img to Android's root instead of chrooting, rpcbinder is currently running on my phone, I am not sure how it got the permissions to run but whatever, its needed for NFS and much other things, I believe rpcbinder is the replacement for portmapper.

    So as you can see a bit of tying up loose ends can and will give your phone the power it needs to perform some heavy pen testing, perfect for teams, one person with the phone in their pocket applying for a job, and another off in a far away place ssh'd into the phone doing their thing. You can't really take a laptop running Kali into an office and expect no-one to wonder why your typing so fast and why your using a command-line, it just screams suspiciousness. There are many more use-cases for wanting Kali on your phone such as an extreamly portable computer forensics device, just because that under-cover agent doesn't have a computer doesn't mean he can't scroung through your hard-drive searching for deleted files.

    Thank you very much,

    ps x

    • Phartat Misassa

      Appeantly Apache2 was able to open up on port 80. I just checked the running processes and saw Apache2 so I went to my browser and entered http://localhost:80 and bam "It Works!"

  • Jorge

    I hope it works on a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1

  • asimov2045

    how do i change back to the main user? once in the test user i cant switch. the names dont appear in the power menu only in settings>users. and how can i add a password to a user?

    • ive9th

      I am trying to figure out the same thing. The xposed framework in my second profile doesnt have the modaco tool. Maybe Ill try installing it.