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.
In an almost superhero-like act, Koushik Dutta (a.k.a. Koush of ROM Manager fame) has pushed his completely rewritten Superuser app to the Play Store just 15 days after first announcing it on Google+. This version introduces several improvements upon the original Superuser. In the last two weeks, the feature list has grown to include fully functioning multi-user support, secure PIN protection, and support for the x86 and ARM architectures. Additionally, the interface has been revitalized with a clean looking Holo theme and a tablet UI.
Koush didn't stop there – he also added a feature to make root-seeking apps more visible.
It's been over four months since Google officially announced Android 4.2 and slightly less time since the initial round of new Nexus devices running it went up for order. Much like the gunshot that kicks off the 100-meter tortoise race, that launch signaled the silent contest to see which manufacturer could get out a non-Nexus update first. Today, we have our winner: ASUS, with a shiny new version of Jelly Bean for the Transformer Pad (TF300T).
The manufacturer has also promised that there will be updates to its App Locker, Virtual Keyboard, Lock Screen, and Setup Wizard applications. Initially, the update will only be available via OTA for U.S.
Android 4.2 is here, and with it comes proper support for multiple users on tablets. According to Cam, it's easy to setup and intuitive to use, too. Unfortunately, it doesn't work on phones at this point (presumably because of a Nokia patent).
At this point, we do have to address the pink elephant in the room here: it's likely you don't have 4.2 yet. And if the Android Platform Distribution numbers are any indication, most devices probably won't get 4.2 until mid-2014.
We're back with yet another edition of our Android 4.2 teardown! We previously showed you the new Gmail, the Quick Settings prototype, and all sorts of security features. Today we're looking at some seriously fun stuff, including a sneak peek at the new Gallery design.
Pending some kind of breakthrough, we'll probably end this series at an even trilogy. There isn't much more to cover after this. And remember, this is a Teardown, not a list of confirmed 4.2 features. None of this is guaranteed to ship in 4.2 and I'm certainly not claiming it will.
The New Gallery
Multi-user support is one of the few remaining things a desktop OS can do that Android can't. The "coffee table tablet" use case would greatly benefit from a multi-user setup, as would an enterprise user who wants to keep work and home separate. It's been a top 20 item on the Android bug tracker since the debut of Honeycomb, so there is certainly demand for it.
As we've seen from my previous experiments in sticking my nose where it doesn't belong, Google likes to leave breadcrumbs in shipping products for the astute observer to find, and the multi-user situation is no different.