Android tablets have had the ability to use multiple user profiles since Android 4.2, but phones were left out unless users were willing to install a workaround. That will be changing this fall when Android L comes out. Google will be implementing the feature on phones “as part of the next public build,” according to a Google project team member commenting on the Android issue tracker.
A Google engineer told Reddit last year that the reason Google hadn’t brought the feature over to phones was because it hadn’t figured out how to handle phone calls and text messages, in addition to the fact that smartphones are inherently more personal than tablets. But the distinction between the two categories is breaking down as phone screens grow larger, and it appears that Google’s solved those problems. This feature should be handy for users who want separate work and home profiles, especially those with Google accounts for both. It also shapes up to be an improvement for parents who want to hand their device over to their kids without worrying about tot-related mishaps.
It’s another sign that this fall’s Android L update, in addition to all its under-the-hood work, is going to have a lot of nifty interface improvements.