26
Jul
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Ever since its inception in Android 4.2, end-users have wondered why the multi-user function has been restricted to tablets. While switching between profiles desktop-style certainly makes the most sense on tablets, there's no technical reason why it couldn't be enabled for phones as well. Yesterday an official Android engineer took to Reddit to explain the reasoning behind the limitation.

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"...it is not at all clear how it should work on a phone, specifically with respect to SMS and phone calls," writes Dan Morrill, Google Engineer and a regular on the popular /r/Android subreddit.

24
Jul
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Last Updated: July 26th, 2013

Android 4.2 introduced a major change for tablets: multi-user profiles. This allows each member of the family (or organization), to have their own profile, complete with app, homescreen, and setting independence. Today, with Android 4.3, Google has taken multi-user accounts to the next level with restricted profiles. Essentially, this allows the tablet owner to have granular control over the other user accounts on the device.

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For example, let's say you're a parent and you share a tablet with a young child.

14
May
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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.

04
Mar
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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.

03
Mar
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Last Updated: March 13th, 2013

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).

19
Oct
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Last Updated: December 28th, 2012

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.

30
Jul
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Last Updated: October 8th, 2012

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.