Multi-user support could be coming to Android in future versions

Daniel Bader

July 30, 2012 6:22 pm

One of the most requested features on Android these days is multi-user support, especially in the tablet space. Many families bounce slates back and forth between members, often necessitating a rearrangement of icons, folders, wallpapers and apps.

Android Police did some digging and found that, as early as April 2011, Google had begun adding support for multiple users into the Android Open Source Project. In Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean, the support is more robust and could certainly be turned on if the framework was available for users to do so, but at this point it seems that Google is holding back on the most important aspect of the feature: the user interface.

It appears that multi-users would work by responding to a certain unlock code, likely a pin number, unique lock pattern or password. Once unlocked, a user would have access to certain walled-off features such as wallpapers, app lists, home screen layouts and more, similar to what one would find on OS X or Windows. Face Unlock, which was introduced in Android 4.0, seems like a perfect accompaniment to multiple user support, as a specific face could activate features unique to that person.

While not groundbreaking, multiple user support could easily differentiate Android from iOS as a more family-friendly enterprise, especially when dealing with children and parental controls.

Source: Android Police

  • HwyXingFrog

    Agreed, I’ve been wanting this for a LONG time. Would be Awesome on the Nexus 7.

  • ummm

    it will be interesting to see how many people really use face unlock .

  • TKG26

    Long over due for tablets. I don’t want my family having axles to my email Twitter calender facebook etc ext. Face unlock or pin don’t matter to me

  • Vengefulspirit99

    Sounds like a good idea.

  • Sean

    I have been waiting for this since I got a Transformer and based on what Android Polics has i would seriously expect this to be included in KLP

  • Tyler Durden

    I’m not sure how much content would really be “walled off” to other users. With Android being open source and allowing unlocked bootloaders and rooting, isn’t everything pretty much open to anyone even if you were using a multi-user setup? I understand that it would make it easier for multiple users by allowing customizations to different profiles, but in terms of really making things inaccessible to the other users for privacy or safety concerns, I don’t see it happening.

    • briggs

      So…you know, that means Linux doesn’t have multi user support, right?

      Just because the source is open, does not mean the user profiles are.

    • Tyler Durden

      Wouldn’t everything be open to a superuser on a rooted device? I think you missed the point of what I said.

  • EEYYAN

    Any feature iOS doesn’t have is a good feature to me :)

    • Dave

      Way to fit in, chum.

  • THE ASSASSIN

    Why didn’t Google patent this?? Or was this feature already created by soemone else?

    • briggs

      multi-user support has been around for decades. On a tablet, not as long, but I’m fairly certain M$ has claims to that one if it were ever patented, what with their tablets in the early days.

  • Apple Sales Guy

    I’ve seen what’s brewing in the lab for Apple when it comes to multi user support on ipad/ios. Makes androids attempt look like child’s play. Get your popcorn ready, this gonna change everything again.

    Cheers
    ;)

  • Tim Cook

    Trust me, there is crazy stuff coming from apple that I can’t talk about yet. I’ll keep you posted.

    -Tim

  • wewewi

    There’s already support for anyone with a clean photo of me..

  • efrain

    Que bueno que estan pensando en una aplicación como esa para protejer el celular y todo su contenido gracias

  • drone

    mulan!

  • Jason

    Definitely needed on tablets since they’re usually shared within a family. At the very least, I’d like to be able to lock some apps (Gmail, Google Voice, Facebook, etc.) or hide them entirely.