Why Android 4.2 phones won't have multi-user login? Hint: Nokia holds the patent
Android 4.2 came with a new multi-user login feature, which allows you to logoff your important stuff, and go in the tablet with restricted access when you are handing it to your kid, for example. The option is only available on the Nexus 10 and 7 tablets, though, not on the Nexus 4 handset. "Available only on tablets," advises Google in the feature description, and leaves it at that.
This omission has certainly nothing to do with software engineering prowess, of which Google has plenty, but rather something more convoluted, in the form of a Nokia patent filed long time ago, which has booked the multi-user feature for its own phones.
The patent, called "multi-user mobile telephone", was filed way back in May of 2005, and contains the following:
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).
It is hard to argue against such a thorough description, and Windows Phone 8 seems to have taken a good advantage of the fact that Nokia is the patent holder on this one, leveraging its merits best into the Kid's Corner functionality, visualized in our hands-on video below.