Why Android 4.2 Phones Won’t Offer Multiple User Accounts

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Following Google’s unveiling of Android 4.2, an updated version of Jelly Bean, the upcoming operating system’s support for multiple user accounts seems to be the standout feature, but it’s only for tablets. A new report claims that its limitation to tablets could be in part to Nokia — more specifically, a Nokia patent.

Android 4.2While Google has said the update won’t be a huge step forward, the capability to add multiple user accounts would give the operating system a step-up on Apple, which only allows iPads and iPhones to sync with a single user account. Yet, only Android tablets will offer the feature, as Nokia owns a patent for such a characteristic on phones.

According to a patent publication application from May 2005, Nokia’s patent US 2005/0107114 A1, dubbed “multi-user mobile telephone”, is described as being able to offer a “first end-user” the ability to “alter the mobile telephone so that it operates in a manner specific to that first end-user and a subsequent end-user can alter the mobile telephone so that it operates in a manner specific to that subsequent end-user.”

Google’s tablet-specific version of Android 4.2 will provide users with their own email, apps, bookmarks, home screens and more, simply by switching between accounts from the lock screen. While people don’t generally share smartphones, it was just assumed Google made this feature solely available on tablets for practical reasons, though with this recent finding, there appears to be more behind that reasoning.

Neither Google nor Nokia has confirmed the report as true, but it would certainly make sense. Especially when one considers that Microsoft’s recently-announced Windows Phone 8 operating system includes something similar to multi-users accounts — Microsoft and Nokia are close partners on smartphones.

More about Android 4.2

The latest Android update is going to bring a range new features,  including Photo Sphere, which will let users capture and create a 360-degree picture, as well as Gesture Typing, which will let users type by gliding their finger over the letters. These improvements will be for both smartphones and tablets.

Android 4.2 will first make its appearance on the Internet giant’s next line of Nexus devices, including the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10, in the coming weeks.

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