#Mobile Life: Why I Want A Multiuser Android Smartphone. Especially in India

Android 4.2 went multiuser. Each user gets their own version of the phone – from the look and feel,obviously, to all their personal data and even the apps they have downloaded and have access to. 4.3 took this further with Restricted Profiles – where the primary (admin) user could set up app restrictions, maturity filters, access to specific data, purchasing, etc. And these are obviously pretty nifty features for tablets! But Google seems to think they’re not a great idea for phones, based on what they discovered in usability studies and tests.

I, however, think I’d want multiple user accounts on my phone as well, from what I’ve seen of smartphone usage at least around here in India.

Why?

It IS the kids’ phone too!

We have all surely seen how easily and often kids take over the parents phone. Primarily for games to start with, but as they grow up, unsupervised time with the phone does go up a lot. The pitfalls of the unsupervised, unbridled internet are many, as are tales of settings changed, funny emails and messages sent and even data erased inadvertently by some tiny little girl who was just responding to the amazing feeling of power touch response gives you!

So – many a parent very much like to create special accounts for the little ones :) Even on their phones.

The Other HalfMulti user heads many people

Disclaimer : I’m not talking about tech (savvy) couples here.

Contrary to what you might believe, not everyone owns, or wants to own a smartphone! Very often, I’ve seen one half of a married couple being the one more interested or savvy when it comes to technology, and the other happier with a simpler, even disconnected device. At our home, I’m the “power user”, and in my parents’ place my mom is. A lot many friends are even thinking in terms of keeping their phones email/facebook/twitter free.

But then there’s always that not-too-frequent need to check one’s mail or messages on social profiles when out there, away from the desktop.

I’d prefer setting up a second account for that once-in-a-while usage rather than add another GMail account, or keep logging in and out of social accounts.

Redundancy

Even amongst the savvy lot, losing or managing to destroy one’s phone is more common than we would want it to be. Sure, there are numerous apps that help protect and even recover from such misfortunes, but there’s nothing like a little redundancy when you face this. To have access to your emails, expensing apps, Dropbox and whatever else you’ve gotten used to on your significant other’s device in a separate, customized account would be a major win while you try and effect damage control, grieve over the loss of the uber-cool gadget you just bought, and agonize over the next purchase you now need to make. I think, at least.

May I borrow your phone please?

Ok, this is a major one.

I have sometimes been asked if someone could borrow my phone for

  • An urgent call, or at least a missed call

  • Check mail on the browser to retrieve an e-ticket or check the PNR status

  • You won’t believe this – but – once – click a snap and mail it to them :)

when the requester’s phone was stolen, damaged, just plain rain out of charge or ‘currency’, or because they had ‘just landed and did not have an India phone’.

While I am always more than willing to help a fellow traveller, I have mild misgivings about handing over a very personal device to a stranger – and I do not like hanging around overhearing their conversations or looking over their shoulders to check what they’re doing on my browser. Hey – those are my cookies you’re setting….

I would so love to have a guest account I could later clear everything from, just for this!May I borrow your phone please?

Ok, also because it’s just very cool :)

Yep, the ex-geek in me continues to crave such little delights. I had to come clean on this one.

My Xolo Q800’s running just fine on the vanilla 4.1.2 it came with, and given that I use Ubuntu, it’s not all that trivial to root the device and upgrade to Cynaogenmod or some such – it’ll take some reading up, time and patience. But just for this feature, I might draw on my reserves and sit down with Google one day to figure that out.

Image credit: Shutterstock