Google will soon be rolling out one long-awaited administration feature to smartphones, most likely together with Android L. Quickly responding to and closing a recently filed bug report, Google has confirmed that the ability to support more than one user on a phone type device has already been implemented and will be included in the next public build of Android.
Google has actually already implemented multi-user support in Android as far back as Android 4.2, but its implementation has been limited only to tablets. Of course, that has not stopped OEMs and even custom ROM makers from striking out on their own and implementing multi-user support on smartphones in different and divergent ways. Google might now be trying to reel all of those into a single backend implementation. This will definitely be of great help to parents who want to let their children enjoy the use of a smartphone without having to worry about inappropriate or unauthorized purchases, by locking down a separate user that’s been created specifically for the use of a child.
But more than that parental control, this feature would also fit nicely with Google’s new, or rather renewed, thrust to take a bite out of the enterprise market. This would tie in neatly with, for example, the KNOX-based security framework that it is developing in collaboration with Samsung. With different user accounts for work and for personal use plus KNOX’s ability to sandbox data and apps, Android will be shaping up to be quite the enterprise darling soon enough.
That said, there is one piece of the puzzle left unsolved. The response from Google indicates “the next public build”, which doesn’t really explicitly say, perhaps intentionally, which Android version, The bug reporter indicated that he is running on the Android L Preview, so it’s safe to assume that this build will similarly be based on Android L. Whether that actually refers to the final Android L, or whatever name it will take, release or maybe even an updated developer preview, we’ll just have to wait to find out.