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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Multiple User Accounts on Android Phone



The ability to create multiple user accounts (I shall refer as profile to avoid confusion of accounts for apps) on Android phone was introduced in Lollipop but I could not find it until I started using OnePlus One. This feature is disabled in brands like Samsung, Xiaomi and Asus. I think this option is enabled for Sony Xperia. Multiple user account option is enable if the Users option is available in the Android settings (see the picture above).

This is an excellent feature that allows me to separate my office information from my personal information; I do not have to worry about the enforcement of policies required by my company affecting my personal user profile. I tried Samsung Knox briefly but did not like it because the Google policy still had to be enforced on the main account and also Knox consumes a lot of memory (since it is running with Android on my main account) and makes the phone very slow. With the multiple user profile, I can decide which one to use (and less memory is consume.

With multiple user profile, only one will be active at anyone time (similar to what happens on Windows). This means if I am playing music on the one profile, it will stop when I switch to a different profile. The same goes with the Bluetooth connection, my Bluetooth headset will disconnect when I switch to a different profile.

The main account is the one that is automatically created when the phone is first configured. All other accounts are secondary accounts. Secondary accounts have limitations in terms of the configuration options such as a button to synchronize all (one time synchronization) for the Google account or displaying the battery percentage. I have not found all the limitations but noticed a few. If you install an app in the main profile, you can add the same app to the secondary profile without reinstalling the full app (i.e. the app is shared, so it will not consume unnecessary storage). Accounts added to the main profile and the secondary profiles are independent.



Switching between profiles is straightforward, just touch the user icon on the top right hand corner of the screen and then select another profile.

Do not set the "Do not disturb" mode and switch profile. I did this once and found that I was not able to disable that option with the button when I switch back to the profile where the mode was set. The "Do not disturb" mode is enforced for the phone, not just the active profile. I found out, after much research, that the do not disable mode can only be disabled by turning the volume to zero first.

By default, the Google account added to the secondary account is set to auto synchronize. I turned off the auto sync to avoid draining my battery.

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