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back to article Multiple user accounts coming to Android phones 'n' slabs

It looks like user accounts are coming to Android. This thread in the Android developer preview mailing list includes a post in which a user asks (with spelling and punctuation anomalies) for something like this: Tablets are able to have multiple accounts for multiple users, allowing the users to install an app only for …

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Interesting

Does that mean that I will finally be able to control what an app has access to in my vanilla Android install ?

I hope so.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Interesting

I don't think so. Multiple accounts doesn't get in the way of the wishes of data collection agency NSA Google, restricting app access to your data will.

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Re: Interesting

I doubt it, but I agree we should be able to...

I think we should be able to revoke permissions to apps, and that apps that don't 'fail gracefully' with a permission revoked, should be removed from the app store..

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Alert

Re: Interesting

No just limited within user protections. The filter protections would likely be designed as usual to work outwards from a user not inwards from an app or superuser. So normal data theft & leaks contiue unrestricted as currently.

So my thoughts...

1. Stop a user (kid) from using a particular app or filter specific app options.

2. Allow a superuser (parent) to set permissions for user (kid) + probably

any bad app with its superuser status to temp disable/reset a parents filters.

3. The app must still have unrestricted access to users post filtered data for

basic function and data reports.

4. App still has ability to steal user data via usual hidden methods to cloud.

5. Bad other apps still able to steal & leak other app user data to cloud.

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Happy

Re: Interesting

@MrXavia I would really value the "revoke permission / fail gracefully" capability. Too often feel I have the choice between giving away the keys to the front door or not running the app at all.

As for multiple users on a phone I can see the value, but it's more of a nice to have for me. Would prefer they sort the app security first.

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Re: Interesting

I'm not sure how helpful this will be, but Cyanogenmod allows you to set which permissions a particular app will be allowed.

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Re: Interesting

I'm not saying this is the same as having the functionality natively, but for a techie, you can use 'xposed' without cyranogen etc. to remove privileges, and other apps to remove events.

("Android Tuner" combines these in a nice logical permissions gui)

I mainly use it for event disabling. The number of apps that request to be started up just because I plug in the charger caused the tablet to crawl.

Unlike permissions, you can generally kill all events without buggering up the app.

I use 'maps' and G+ once in a blue moon, so why do they attempt to startup on bootup, and everytime you fart, or look at the tablet in a funny way...

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It's the other way around...

In some work contexts you get situations where people share devices i.e. handing over a tablet at the end of a shift. The corporate products like Citrix Worx Home/Receiver are based on the idea that the device = a single user = your identity - which can lead to issues where some people have application privileges they shouldn't have i.e. handing someone a device means you're effectively handing over your password.

If Android (or iOS for that matter) get first class support for multiple users it should make it easier for corporate products to control the corporate experience on a per user basis.

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Re: It's the other way around...

Android already has support for multiple users, each with their own log in and each user can be restricted from installing or running anything (all data is separated also).

You can also manage each device from a remote management platform.

However this is for tablets, this post is about allowing it on phones also (although the article fails to make this clear).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's the other way around...

Glad you said that DaLo, I thought I'd stumbled onto a year-old article, checked the article date and had to re-read.

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Childcatcher

Don't trust it...

I'm not sure I would trust this, especially not in a BYOD environment. Given the tendency of many to just click "allow all requested permissions" when installing a new app, how long before some bit of malware gets out there with a "grant admin rights to app" permission, which can then raid all accounts?

A good idea in principle, but I think Android still has considerable distance to cover in security terms - largely in making sure that it's users are educated to not just allow requested permissions for the apps they install - before this can really fly.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Re: Don't trust it...

Exactly!

And sounds like usual Corporate doublespeak to mislead the masses to think the new offering is interchangable with Secuity Tools for app access division in a BYOD environment.*

(*) Similar to Corporate doublespeak misdirection about Salted Hash v Encripted Password storage

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Already on tablets

This has been on Android tablets for quite a while now....

Will be great to have it on phones too.

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Re: Already on tablets

Was going to say exactly the same - the Asus Transformer i have has had this for about a year now... will be good to come to phones though....

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Re: Already on tablets

Yes, Nook HD+ support multiple profiles - it's much more a parents-and-kids thing than anything that would have an impact for BYOD and I suspect that the google development will be much the same (and frankly I can't see anything on the device ever being sufficient for a properly secure BYOD setup anyway).

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Clarification

Multiple user accounts have been available on Android since KitKat, but only on tablets. The user is asking for this ability to be enabled for phones too.

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Re: Clarification

Naaaah, some of the infrastructure was put in place in lCS (and could be s to a fashion by someone with technical knowledge) - however, the full user account system was definitely before kitkat... 4l. or maybe 4.1

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g e
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I'd rather have user-defined system-wide granular app permissions

As per subject

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Re: I'd rather have user-defined system-wide granular app permissions

I'd rather I could just run android as a UI choice on top of a reasonably standard linux install of some kind.

I expect to be waiting some considerable time. :-)

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Boffin

Re: I'd rather have user-defined system-wide granular app permissions

One of the first things I did was 're-unixfy' my tablet.

I have a full command set, users (/etc/group; /etc/passwd etc) home directories, ssh daemon, cron, boot.d/rc.d nfs mounts for media, native ipv6 ( com.google.process.gapps always connects via ip6 to 2a00:1450:400c:c0a::bc:5228), iptables (athough to be fair my tablet came with a nfs/ipv6/ipfilter enabled kernel ..), unix based 'su' (based on unix passwds not some gui allow screen (although to fix the 2 apps I use that require root I fudged by manually altering the 'su' code to let them su with no tty prompt.)

I don't trust it enough to assume it's unrootable - alot of the android subsystem runs with root privs, and it plays fast and lose with some file protections (though I try to proactively monitor/fix them), but it's basically a working unix subsystem - you can do wonders with a little knowledge, busybox, mksh, dropbear, and a suitable cross-compiler and then native gcc!)

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Needs to go further

As there are Apps out there that can allow you to selectively dial back the rights that an App can exploit, this multiple user/profile needs to also factor this into any implementation.

More than happy for the kids to pick up the phone for a game, but it would be nice to dial back any rights on a per user basis such that when they are using it, it is a glorified games console. when I use it, its full potential is available.

Otherwise - this falls short of being truly useful.

Of course, this will mean that the people need to be as thoughtful about their phones/tablets as they are about the home PC.... Oh well, queue the arguments.

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I've been using the Xposed Framework and Modaco Toolkit to do this for quite a while on my Nexus 4.

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FAIL

Learn how to spell "selves".

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DJV
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Maybe you should learn to use the "Tips and Corrections" link under the article, instead! Anyway, that typo is in a quote from another source over which the Register has no control.

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Joke

What happens when...

Your kid is playing a game, and your other woman calls? Does your kid have to log out before you can take the call? Oh, wait this is a tech page, most readers are lucky to have one woman.

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This can already be done.

Here is how:

http://www.pocketables.com/2013/03/how-to-enable-multiple-user-mode-on-cyanogenmod-10-1-and-some-other-android-4-2-2-roms.html

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Has Samsung not let Google incorporate Knox into Android?

This will be just that.

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Anonymous Coward

Real printing ability would be better IMO. Having to send a print job over the internet to a render farm and then back again to get spat out of the networked Officejet 15 feet from me is silly.

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Anonymous Coward

Cyanogenmod has had it since I got my first Android 4-capable device about a year and a half ago. I had no idea it was a CM-exclusive feature.

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