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Why multi-user login won’t come to Android 4.2 phones?

On October 29th, Google launched latest version of its Android operating system, the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. Yes, it was previously thought that it would be called as Key Lime Pie, but Google has decided to go with Jelly Bean.

Google has added several features in Android 4.2. One of those interesting features is the all new multi-user login feature. The multi-user login feature basically allows you to log off from your account and log into another account before handing over the tablet to some other person. The function works just like how ‘accounts’ works in Windows and provides the encapsulation of important data required when multiple people use the device. The system should come handy when you hand over the tablet to your kid and don’t want him to mess up with the settings of your account.

The multi-user option is great, however, it has been made available only on the Nexus 10 and 7 tablets, and not on the Nexus 4 handset. “Available only on tablets,” advises Google in the feature description.

Isn’t the omission a bit weird, because when the feature can be implemented on tablets, I don’t think Google will have any trouble implementing it on phones as well. The reason behind this is something else and it is called patent. Nokia filed a patent long time ago which reserves the right to implement multi-user feature on phones. The patent is called as “multi-user mobile telephone” and was filed way back in May of 2005. Below is what the patent explains:

A mobile telephone is designed to be used by several different end-users at different times. A first end-user can 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; wherein each end-user has only to respond to prompts displayed on a screen in order to alter the mobile telephone so that it operates in a manner specific to that end-user…

The present invention therefore moves away from the established assumption that a mobile telephone is personal to a single end-user and instead readily allows the mobile telephone to be used by several end-users through appropriate on-screen prompts. Such a device may be especially relevant to communities where few individuals can afford the cost of their own personal telephone. More generally, it is useful for any entity to whom there are benefits from being able to easily share mobile telephones across multiple end-users (e.g. large corporation may have a pool of such mobile telephones; any employee can then simply pick up one of these telephones and be able to use it like a personal device).

Since Nokia is the patent holder for this patent, and we all know the close ties that Microsoft has with Nokia, Microsoft has taken good advantage of this fact and has leveraged its merits in the Kid’s Corner functionality. What are your thoughts on this?

Source: TechCrunch

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