06
Aug
nexusae0_jb-profiles-create-n713_thumb

Earlier today, someone decided to post to the Android issue tracker complaining about the lack of multiuser support for smartphones. Within a few hours, a developer at Google responded and closed the issue, remarking that "the development team has implemented this feature and it will be available as a part of the next public build." Sounds pretty definitive to us.

The "next public build" is the only ambiguous part of this statement, though that Googler is almost definitely referring to the "L" release of Android scheduled to land some time later this year. Multiuser support on smartphones is something Google had indicated an interest in previously, but it limited the feature to tablets as part of Android 4.2. At the time, multiuser mode wasn't very configurable and tended to impact device performance somewhat severely, though it was significantly improved in Android 4.3.

multi

This new functionality will likely come to the excitement of a great many Android phone owners with children, nosy friends and relatives, or who use their phones for business purposes.

I'd say the single greatest use for this will probably be in the workplace. While enterprise-managed and sandboxed profiles will apparently be a thing in Android L, most small and medium-sized businesses probably aren't interested or savvy enough to really dig into this kind of deep, high-security, high-complexity functionality. Putting a separate, password-protected profile on your phone for business email and documents will allow greater work-life separation for those of us who only carry one smartphone for home and business. After all, in this hyper-connected world, we could all use a way to put up at least a semblance of a wall between our personal and professional lives.

Android Issue Tracker - Thanks, Lucas!

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Derek Traini

    I'd love it if a "Guest Mode" was developed from this.

    • Open1Your1Eyes0

      Amen! I don't care about multiple users. My phone is mine and mine only. I just want to be able to have a mode where I can let someone borrow my phone occassionally without being able to see my personal stuff.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      The problem there is that for a true "guest mode" you still have to sign into Google with your account and then wait for all the apps to sync up. That takes several minutes, even on a fast connection. If you're not signing into Google, what good is the guest mode? If you need a browser, I guess, but you're not going to do a whole lot more than that.

      If Google were to develop an Android guest mode, it would have to be a much lighter weight experience than a full-on separate user profile. This is something that I think would require a lot of experimentation and UX wrangling to get right, because Android just isn't built that way right now, nor are Google's apps. I love the idea, for sure, but I think it's a lot harder than it sounds at first blush. Everything would need to be much more streamlined. Single sign-on is very convenient, but it's still not *that* fast.

      For now, you can make a bare-bones guest account by restricting access in the multiuser settings and such. Not perfect, but I think a "real" guest mode is probably far away, if it ever does happen.

      • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

        Doesn't Samsung's Privacy Mode come anywhere close to that?

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

          Privacy Mode is awful. It's half-baked at best, and crazy unintuitive.

      • outadoc

        Also, when I let someone borrow my phone (basically never), it's because they want to play with one of my games, or look at the pictures I took. Which wouldn't be available in a guest mode. So I don't think it would be very useful, if at all.

        • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

          Not if there wouldn't be any content restriction settings. More in-depth setups like "allow access to photos, music, apps/disallow access to downloads, videos, browser"

        • Open1Your1Eyes0

          In that case you may want to look into a solution that locks apps and just certain content on your profile. There are quite a few there in the Play Store actually.

      • Open1Your1Eyes0

        IMO, "Guest Mode" should be just another restricted account as you mentioned by default that allows you to sign in and all that and automatically wipes itself after you log out. Not sure on the technicalities of that possibility but I don't think it would be particularly too difficult by that requirement (I hope).

      • Arthur

        I'm with you on this one. The way Android is now, it doesn't promote this type of setup at all. Since your Google Account is the bridge that links all the Google Suite of Apps together, having an Android phone today without that is a pretty half-baked experience.

        Google would have to do a serious rework of keeping that phones primary account's info completely segregated and private and grant the guest barebones rights to certain apps that are pre-selected by the owner to have access to with certain restrictions if need be.

        It's a tall task since there are so many factors to consider.

      • MG

        Guest Mode works well on ChromeOS, so why not Android.

        • Nathan Walters

          Because Chrome OS is entirely web-based, unlike Android, which is built on full-fledged apps. What works well on Chrome OS probably wouldn't work well on Android.

          • Enrico Sacchetti

            Why not? Since all of Android has presence on the web anyway (specifically for user data backup), it seems like a logical step forward. Though I suppose having restricted profiles (for parental control, IT administration) would make a 'guest mode' redundant.

          • joser116

            Chrome OS also supports apps. They most definitely CAN make Guest Mode work on Android. Chrome OS is built around a Google account, like Android, but we can also go into guest mode so we can do general things like browsing.

      • BozzyB

        Guest mode should stay a "Guest Mode" - so only access to apps which are already installed on the device. So Gmail, Facebook, Contacts, Kalendar, Drive, G+,.. That'll be enough to work with when you borrow another phone...

      • wicketr

        I'm not sure why a Google account would be needed at all. You don't/shouldn't need a Google account to browse the web. Look at Google maps, Urbanspoon, weather, calculator, flashlight app, or play music on the device. Etc. Etc.

        It should be no different than on a computer and it's Guest-mode functionality. Of course some apps would need login information, but that is not a given or necessarily even the norm.

      • Cael

        Guest Mode should by default be restricted to Phone, Text Message, and Web, IMO. While the main user should be able to allow other access to apps.

      • br_hermon

        What a bout a simplified version of Guest Mode where the Primary user logs out, the guest logs in via Google (if they even want to), that google account's contacts download to the phone (and only the contacts. No apps, no history, etc). Make your call, send your text (this is where Hangouts and Google Voice merged could REALLY be interesting). Log out and everything is wiped as if the guest was never there. Log back in as the Primary user. Done.

        • Shade

          Thank you for being someone who thought what I was. Hangouts could finally be implimented correctly.

      • Kurama91

        David, Can you Please tell me what's the Difference between '' Status: Acknowledged, and Status: ACCEPTED '' in the google issue Tracker ? I really appreciate explaining it.

    • archercc

      That might be the only reason I personally would use it. Enterprise wide I could see the separate work/home accounts but for a phone I wouldn't be setting up others on it.

      But i do love it on the tablet, it really helped us leave the computer off and use the Nexus 10 since my girlfriend can have her own environment on the tablet instead of us needing to have separate tablets.

    • rmkilc

      Just make a restricted user account, and name it Guest. Give it access to the browser, and whatever other apps it may need. Simple.

    • pula

      Create another user "Guest", install basic apps, voila! guest mode

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    Is this function really that important on phones? I mean, for most people this is the most used device for all sorts of connectivity, be it texting, calling, chatting via WhatsApp or the like, mailing, etc.

    • http://www.trav1sty.com Trav1sty

      I share my phone with my kids and take it to the office. I really don't want to see work stuff when I'm not at work, and I'm not going to play toddler learning games. Having a separate profile for all my kid's games and a separate office managed profile would be great so I would't have to muddle everything up.

  • Colin Whiteside

    I thought the issue with this arrive on mobile devices (instead of tablet ones) was that Nokia still has an active patent over multi-user mobile phones? Maybe I read something incorrect.

    • Guest

      edited

  • mikebel3

    Phonecognito mode.

  • Tom Harman

    multi users on a smartphone, hellzs no i don't want some other person using my phone, keep their darn germs to themselves, lol.

    • Shining Wing

      You say it as if you're being forced to share your phone with others. Just don't add any users.

      • Tom Harman

        of course i know i'm not being forced, lol, but there's no way i'd let anyone touch my phone otherwise.

    • http://www.scottcolbert.com/ ScottColbert

      I'm amazed, when I'm out and about how a complete stranger will ask to use my phone. I always say no, and they always ask why. Still haven't found a good way of saying, "Cuz ya may have cooties!"

      • Brad

        "i don't have one"

      • CoreRooted

        "Sorry, this is my work phone. I can't make personal phone calls"... as I'm sitting there usually playing a game... lol

        • https://steamcommunity.com/id/m-p-3 m-p{3}

          Still a valid reason :P

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

    I've really wanted this feature ever since it came to tablets. In fact, I've wanted it on phones more than tablets (never used it once on tablets other than to test it out).

    On the other hand, say I have a phone I use as a backup that has all my stuff on it, but someone on Sprint wants to borrow it to go to Europe. I don't want to wipe, so I just give it to them and make a new account (granted, Google's implementation has to be able to share the sim without restrictions).

    I can also see this being used by someone who doesn't have a family tablet but has a phablet or phone that is now being used only on Wi-Fi. Bam - it's now a family device with all the privacy and restrictions that come with having proper multi-user support.

    If you're a developer, this could be great for testing.

    So in summary, bring it, Google!

    • Mike Reid

      I love how google is using bug report responses to slowly leak info.

      IMO it's very much intentional, and keeps a "buzz" going, while giving the impression that Google is "fixing" things, and yet trying to keep those fixes a bit undercover.

    • thelionk

      How does it deal with SD card data and internal storage? Is that on a per-user basis too, or any app on any user can access all the content of internal and external storage if they have the permission to do so?

  • Defenestratus

    I think this points to even tighter telephony integration for Hangouts. This means that essentially, your phone number will need to be linked to your google/android account. The only way to manage this is to have a single application that manages anything coming in or out of the cellular network.

  • https://steamcommunity.com/id/m-p-3 m-p{3}

    Yes, finally able to have two profiles for work and personal stuff will be great!

    • Open1Your1Eyes0

      This is actually a great idea!

  • markgbe

    "next public build" that sounds like there might be one more release/update to L dev preview before it's officially available in fall right?

    • Brad

      despite the fact they said "absolutely not"?

      • markgbe

        They did?

        • Brad

          yep. it's all over the internet.

          • markgbe

            i missed that part of the internet

            *edit*. i just googled... right on http://developer.android.com/preview/index.html it says:

            "Support and Updates

            Updates to the L Developer Preview are delivered in the Android SDK Manager. Check back periodically for news about the changes."

          • Brad

            excuse me for using just the first link that comes up and not AP (I'm pretty sure they reported it too... I got it from XDA). http://bgr.com/2014/07/21/android-l-developer-preview-updates/

          • markgbe

            hmm yeah i read that now. ah well. i guess i can wait a few months.

          • Brad

            Yeah, L messed up my wifi... actually getting swapped out because of it. I really miss it. Really good build, even half baked.

          • markgbe

            i swapped back and forth a few times. Now i'm back to 4.4.4 because I couldn't take half my apps not working. Otherwise, it makes 4.4.4 feel like it's from 1992.

            Can't wait till fall.

          • Brad

            the only thing not working for me that mattered was MMS. Dropbox was a little annoying - but all of the other apps I used were just fine. I was already using ART before flashing. you're right... 4.4.4 seems so old.

          • markgbe
          • Brad

            the thing that sucks about this? I'm getting my new N5 tonight and I'm so torn about flashing this... like... maybe it won't roach the wifi?

          • markgbe

            yolo? :D

          • Brad

            haha "uh, the same thing happened to this one and i refuse to pay the $81 this time"

          • markgbe

            lol nice

          • Sam Sullivan

            It's surprisingly vague, "no new device images". This could just mean new devices, instead of what others expected with new images.

          • Brad

            a device image is an image for a device.

          • Sam Sullivan
          • Brad

            not really... because I'm an adult and can admit when I've been mistaken.

  • John Smith

    I dislike how the next version of Android is being referred to as "L". Where's the candy name already ?!

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/7b/Lion-Bar-Wrapper-Small.jpg

    :D

    • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

      I thought the Nestle agrement was only for one Android version?

    • hoosiercub88

      You'll just have to wait until it's launched.

    • primalxconvoy

      I hope you have a big packet of Walkers and a bottle of Vimto to back that up there, Softlad.

      • John Smith

        I had my box of caramel popcorn ready, but I was surprised at the lack of enthusiasm for the Lion candy bar :D hehe

  • ISIS

    Microsoft is a terrorist organization.

    • https://steamcommunity.com/id/m-p-3 m-p{3}

      Uh ok.

  • Erik Knudsen

    Sweet. This is definitely good news for people with children. My daughters will be able to have their own profile with their own apps, and I can manage 3 different Clash of Clans accounts...wait...I mean they can play Clash of Clans with me.

    I'm not addicted I swear. I can quit any time I want.

  • Xde

    Wasn't this feature implemented in 4.2+ because of Nokia patents? I've heard so.

  • tehone

    Has anyone successfully used the multiple-user-support/multi-profiles on their tablet and found it to be a good, productive experience?

    Not trolling, just honestly asking... because the few times I've tried it on my Nexus 7 2013 tablet, it was horribly broken. As in, most apps didn't properly work correctly and/or just crashed, video/media player apps would *never* find audio/video clips stored locally on the device, etc.

    It would be great if it actually worked... and maybe it works these days but I haven't gone back to try it in a long time. If it's as broken on phones as it was on my tablet, I'll honestly have no use for it. /shrug

    • CoreRooted

      I have on my N7 for Ingress. Works great when someone's phone dies and you can just quickly create them an account on your tablet for them to use.

  • Tj Hariharan

    guest mode+that "android-wear-unlock" thing=oMFG.. Can you imagine? No need to switch to guest mode, just hand the phone to someone it automatically locks and allows opening of guest mode only.

    • https://steamcommunity.com/id/m-p-3 m-p{3}

      Since Android Wear is using bluetooth, the communication range isn't that short and it might not switch by holding handing the phone to someone nearby. Good idea though.

  • j

    I use iPhone but would love it if iPhone had this.

  • NF

    Wasn't a Nokia patent why this wasn't implemented by phones? Has the acquisition invalidated that patent?

  • Nathan J

    Die in a fire, multi-user.

    On my [wife's] 2013 Nexus 7, I set myself as the owner, then made an account for my wife. It was great. Put a bunch of anime and games on her side. Nothing on mine.

    You should know that multi-user creates a separate data partition for the guest user. They're linked somehow so if User A has Facebook installed, and User B wants to install it, Android will see that it exists on User A's side and just link to that—the download will appear to complete instantly. But it also creates a separate sdcard partition, and you can't access one from the other. So all that anime I put on her side? Impossible to watch on mine. Can't see it. Doesn't look like it's there.

    I couldn't take the 4.4.3 OTA because I was rooted, so I decided to install CleanROM on it (it's the stock ROM with some tweaks). Wife doesn't like the idea of custom firmware at all, I assured her it was stock but updated. I installed Titanium on her 'side' as well (as well as copying my license key over as well). Did backups on both sides. Flashed ROM. Made her account, put Titanium back... Guess what, no backups! I was pretty mad. Titanium doesn't support the extra users and they don't even tell you. App pretends to do the backups, but doesn't.

    So I re-flashed the ROM, but made my wife the primary user. I decided I was done with multi-user, and I have a trick up my sleeve in case I want to use the tablet (see below). So I get her set up... Turns out our 32GB tablet got downgraded to a "17GB" tablet. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Did a bunch of poking around, Google searching, NOTHING. Nobody knows a damn thing about multi-user, and if they are, they're not talking about it.

    Simplest solution is usually best solution, so I set up a second user and installed ES File Explorer. Lo and behold, there's all the anime. There was no second sdcard partition accessible to the primary user, but the data was there, untouchable without a second user. Cleared it all out (there was no way to move it over) and now the tablet is whole again.

    When you delete a user from the multi-user interface, it does tell you that it will remove all their files. But I did not do this. I merely flashed a ROM.

    Still, multiuser is BS.

    That trick up my sleeve? Titanium Backup. I kept it up there, with my license key. I bought the app on the dev's site, so instead of an unlocker app, I have a text file. I may not be a user on the tablet, but I bought it with my money, so I think it's fair game I put my Titanium license on it. I'll happily buy a second license for my wife if the dev disagrees, but I think I'm good. Anyway, Titanium has a built-in multi-user. All I gotta do is turn it on for whatever app (it's on an app by app basis, and it works by swapping out the app's data). I name the first data profile Jen, and the second one Nate. She never touches Titanium, so as long as I switch back to hers, she'll never know I was there. Just haven't done it yet. I got an HTC One M8, and the screen's plenty big enough. Honestly I'm not as big a fan of the Nexus 7 as I thought I'd be. Wife loves it, though. She reads manga (comic books) and the bigger screen is perfect for that. For her phone she likes a smaller size, so they are two distinct things for her. For me it's just too close in size. Kind of pointless.

    • dude

      Seems like it was all your fault, I seen questions like that asked often at XDA because people flash roms and not correctly clean their device. Also you describe exactly what multi users should be, separate files. Would be naive if the user can allow sharing files, but by default they should be separate.

  • primalxconvoy

    This is great. When I dock my phone at work sometimes and use it as a computer, it would be great to have a separate profile to click, which would change the wallpaper, launcher, icon sizes, which apps were usable or viewable, etc. As is, I just switch between two launchers, media players and email apps (two different email addresses) and a wallpaper for business use at the moment but the security of a dedicated and separate user account would be brilliant.

  • Alexander Gries

    I can't believe that I was this guy who put this up! I'm glad it was useful to the community

  • Julian Cassin

    Multi-User support for Android will be awesome if they do it right so we can now have consolidated play lists in all the apps, consoldated skype lists etc so the family Smart TV running Android actually works as a 'family Smart TV' instead of everyone having to be tied to a single person's set of data.

  • hyperhyper

    I've got the LG G2 and their implementation of the guest mode is pretty nice. I use it for my daughter so she has her own login (she loves using the pattern password) and I dictate which apps she can have access to. It's not perfect (I restricted the use of Chrome but one of her games had a link in it which allowed her to get to the web - that app quickly disappeared)

  • Anonymous

    I think the technology is cool, multi-user and all, but I always hate when there are huge restrictions on kids. It's basically generalizing that all kids have no idea about the real world and are still caught up in the world of Dora the Explorer.

  • Kurama91

    Can Someone please tell me what's the Difference between Status '' Acknowledged '' and Status '' Accepted '' in such kind of this Projects ??

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