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Why Android 4.2 phones won't have multi-user login? Hint: Nokia holds the patent

Posted: , by Daniel P.

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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.

source: TechCrunch

41 Comments
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posted on 31 Oct 2012, 07:07 29

1. androidornothing (Posts: 143; Member since: 26 Apr 2012)


I dont care about phones. Were not living in the 1800s to be sharing phones. All i care about is that my Nexus 10 has it. Thats all that matters.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 07:18 15

6. dickwyn (Posts: 586; Member since: 07 May 2012)


yeah android phones are cheap enough for everyone to have one

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 08:28 11

16. SleepingOz (unregistered)


Yup and Android is the only platform that gives more for your bucks!

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 17:02 1

36. JulianGT (Posts: 82; Member since: 15 Oct 2012)


Where I live, all phones cost almost the same.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 08:48 5

21. abish1234 (Posts: 51; Member since: 22 Oct 2011)


in your country probably..

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 11:54 3

33. rf1975 (Posts: 241; Member since: 01 Aug 2011)


Yes agree. Because manufacturers like Samsung, ZTE, Huawei are making good phone with reasonable price. for example In my area I can buy SIII for $500 and for a iPhone5 $800-900. So android phone price are very reasonable.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 07:28 6

10. messiah (Posts: 433; Member since: 19 Feb 2010)


"Responding to prompts to change" the answer right there.... don't have prompts ; rather a gesture feature or while logged in voice command to "switch user " without ever having a prompt or dialogue box open. Problem solved. Btw... before apple reads this, I am patenting the idea.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 09:19 2

25. OptimusOne (Posts: 694; Member since: 22 May 2012)


wait until custom roms come out. Im sure some smart developers will pull the login stuff from the aosp code and implement it

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 10:35 1

31. SleepingOz (unregistered)


True.. But imho, no one needs this on their smartphone.
I think Google, in turn, should patent multi-user on tablet as it makes more sense on tablet anyway.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 10:32 1

30. Donforreal (Posts: 32; Member since: 12 Oct 2012)


Ugh i remember back in the 1800s when i had to share, it suked...

posted on 02 Nov 2012, 00:36

41. jroc74 (Posts: 4720; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


I care about phones. I dont even have a tablet. There are some of us that dont have tablets.

Google, just pay the license fee if there is one....get it done.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 07:09 1

2. nobelset (Posts: 268; Member since: 17 Oct 2012)


If only they went with android. It isn't a bad idea going with windows phone, but now m$ favours HTC over Nokia, which bet every stake on the windows phone. If it did,Samsung and Nokia would have ruled the entire phone industry.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 08:42 1

18. -box- (Posts: 3752; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)


I don't think Microsoft /favors/ HTC, just that they're giving them "signature" status. There are "signature" Windows computers as well, and while they're good, I'd be looking right past them to the Sony Vaios, Alienwares, FX, XPS, etc

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 10:03 1

29. nobelset (Posts: 268; Member since: 17 Oct 2012)


But they are trying to give the HTC 8X more attention than the Nokia lumia 920, it is really obvious now. You know the Steve ballmer's phone commercial? Yea, I think that was a huge blow to Nokia, since the 8x was used

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 07:15 1

3. ddxmms1 (Posts: 13; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)


why don't you just download and app from the play store that locks whatever app you want then give your smartphone to whoever you want !

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 07:15 2

4. anywherehome (Posts: 971; Member since: 13 Dec 2011)


this st*pid patent will be invalidated....so freely use it, Google!!!! please!!
like bounce effect of r*tten apple has been invalidated....

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 08:43 3

19. -box- (Posts: 3752; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)


That patent was invalidated due to prior art. This is a different thing entirely.

Besides, I'm sure, if asked, Nokia would work out royalties on their patents; they've been more than willing to do so in the past (even to the point that they allowed apple to keep making their products when they could have had the entire lines shut down)

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 08:51 5

22. chaoticrazor (Posts: 2347; Member since: 28 Aug 2012)


exactly, i think certain android fans are starting to go the apple way, ''google can use it google doesnt need to listen'' sums up the comment above yours

funny though i bet if it was apple doesnt have multi user login due to nokia they would all be cheering

the fanboy levels have risen so much

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 09:46 2

28. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5620; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Are you saying there is no prior art for multi-user functionality? Wrapping multi-user functionality around a phone and claiming novelty is going to be a bit of a stretch. I suspect this patent is going to end up being invalidated.

posted on 01 Nov 2012, 00:37

39. anywherehome (Posts: 971; Member since: 13 Dec 2011)


no, different users on a SW is a completely normal thing for many decades ;)

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 07:17 1

5. bohdan4ik13 (Posts: 82; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


Because of smartphone - it's a personal device but almost nobody have a tablet for everyone in the family. Hint: on xda-developers we would find a solution, how to enable this feature.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 07:19 4

7. wendygarett (unregistered)


The patent should be shorten to about only 2 year so that user can enjoy more advanced functionality, I don't mind Google patent face unlock etc but patent it too long will make people sick...

I remember everyone agree Apple patent slide to unlock five years ago but what happened now? I believe many now sick of the Apple patent because of these...

Tech patent cannot be too long :(

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 07:19 3

8. FranksGT (Posts: 167; Member since: 29 Aug 2012)


Not really something for cell phones unless your cave people and you all dont socialize and use the same phone!

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 07:23 5

9. harsha_bonmec (Posts: 11; Member since: 23 Oct 2012)


who told android phones wont have this.....??

we will have it... atleast we root users... :P
#XDA

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 07:40 1

11. ajac09 (Posts: 1365; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)


didnt HTC have it in sense?

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 08:18 1

14. mozes316 (Posts: 142; Member since: 30 Sep 2011)


More like multiple profiles for one user, but I suppose you could use it in that manner. It just wouldn't be password protected/secure.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 07:50 1

12. Aeires (unregistered)


Of all the companies to get that patent, I can live with Nokia owning it over certain others.

For phones though, I'm not too keen on sharing so this would never apply to myself. For those who have to rely on tighter budgets, this might be a drag. Then again, how have these people been getting by all this time without it? Sometimes when we see new ideas or technology, we forget we did just fine without it before, why let it upset us now that we can't get it? I love technology and it's great to see progress and inventions, just maybe we should ask for some of it, do we really need that? In this case, if you do, get a Nokia phone. Problem solved. I'll stick with my Android and be happy with my purchase because it does what I need it to do.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 07:51 2

13. papss (unregistered)


None of you must have children. My child always uses my phone when we are out and i need him to be quiet so he plays games on it. Dont be so narrow minded. You are not the only one in the world and all doesnt have to apply to you to be a good idea

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 08:45 3

20. -box- (Posts: 3752; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)


Many of whom post on this site might still /be/ children, so your statement bears significant merit.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 15:04 1

34. MorePhonesThanNeeded (Posts: 618; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)


What with portable game systems out there you allow your child to play with your personal telephony device. Then they break it and you have to wait to get a replacement...there are toys for kids, phones are not one of them.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 17:22

37. papss (unregistered)


i disagree. I have a child that takes very good care of my stuff.. Sorry you know punks for kids but that's not mine.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 08:22

15. _Bone_ (Posts: 2110; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)


Absolutely idiotic. Mobiles were always going to somewhat replicate computer functionality and PCs always had multiple accounts, so again, to patent something that was always going to be a natural step in mobile technology is beyond sanity and yet again proves patent business is totally retarded.

Seriously, if curves, icons and multiple accounts can be patented, what can't be? Something that was done previously on biggest computers brought to smaller ones called "smartphones" is not innovation nor something a single company can call their idea.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 08:29

17. networkdood (Posts: 6263; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)


Multi-login is a patent on a cell phone? Wow...

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 08:52

23. chaoticrazor (Posts: 2347; Member since: 28 Aug 2012)


atleast it is a signifcant patent and not vague

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 09:07

24. soshi (Posts: 154; Member since: 08 Mar 2012)


I won't share phone not tablet to kids because they will most likely to drop it. maybe share tablet with friend but not phone. But how come Nokia has this patent since desktop computer already has it for years?

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 09:27 1

26. Shino (Posts: 188; Member since: 23 Jul 2012)


"This omission has certainly nothing to do with software engineering prowess, of which Google has plenty..." - PHONEARENA, WTF? Again with the brain straining, hm? How exactly did you come to the conclusion that Google has plenty of engineering prowess?! Please, quote smth. How? This is like to be sure that Honda has the engineering skill to build a nuclear reactor! Nokia has this software potential for sure, Microsoft may have it as well, Apple sure, yeah, but Google? Google, like Yahoo is a search-engine company and it is famous mainly for this. They don't even create their own OS - Android. So, please, PLEASE once again do not try to make an analysis based on your own "skills", thank you.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 09:44 2

27. _Bone_ (Posts: 2110; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)


Android however can easily go around the patent: don't call it multi-user but Gmail log - Nokia cannot prevent ppl. logging in an out of different Gmail accounts, and if Google creates an "offine Gmail account" storing user data there, switching between users - I mean Gmail accounts - cannot infringe the Nokia patent since it's completely up to Google what they allow with their own mailing service.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 11:50 2

32. downphoenix (Posts: 2295; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)


I dunno, just seems quite silly such a patent was allowed. Wouldnt nokia's patent be considered invalid now since phones are basically computers now, and Im sure they dont hold the patent for multi user computers.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 15:48

35. sprockkets (Posts: 1155; Member since: 16 Jan 2012)


FYI, the patent was NEVER GRANTED. It was REFUSED and Nokia gave up and was abandoned, final in 2009.

How about we all do our jobs and read the patent? SHEESH.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 19:22

38. someones4 (Posts: 618; Member since: 16 Sep 2012)


fine, keep it, nokia. I don't want people touching my phone anyway.

posted on 01 Nov 2012, 23:41

40. pikapowerize (banned) (Posts: 1869; Member since: 03 May 2012)


thats right nokia!! better hold on to that patient coz that will save you!!

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