Monday, February 13, 2023

Android App Cloning

Ron Amadeo (via Peter Steinberger):

The feature leverages Android's multi-user system to have two copies of the same app but with different data, allowing you to log in to each with different accounts. Some apps support multiple accounts and some don't, but this feature would bring multiple account support to everything. It would also bring a great deal of consistency to having multiple accounts—every app could deal with multiple accounts in the same way, with one icon for account number one and a second icon for account number two.

This sounds great. iOS doesn’t even have real multi-user support.


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It’s bizarre that the iPad still does not have multi-user support. Not even the iPad Pro?

(In fact there’s no good reason why this feature couldn’t be implemented on all iPhones and iPads… but it seems especially weird for it to be missing from the “Pro” iPad.)

iPads that are provisioned in schools are set up to be multi-user, with each account tied to a unique Apple ID. I’ve been expecting this same functionality to arrive on all iPads for many years now. I can’t think of a reason why this hasn’t yet happened.

I’m not familiar enough with iOS internals to make any claims about how straightforward it would be to implement these features, but the degree of sandboxing certainly seems conducive to multi-user support and app cloning. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re simply not happy with the UX for end-users, and given the solutions they already have for academic institutions, there’s no pressing demand to deploy the feature more widely.

I’m fortunate enough that the ecosystem my employer uses has built-in support for multiple users, and I thankfully don’t need to install an MDM profile on my phone to login to my work accounts. If I was required to use an MDM profile, I’d probably start using a second phone… either an old iPhone, or a Pixel. It’s my understanding that Android allows MDM profiles (or whatever their equivalent is called) to be segmented per user… so remote erase will clear the work account while leaving the rest of the phone alone.

The reason there is no multi-user support on iPads is pretty simple: they want you to buy an iPad for everyone in your family.

Dad has all his work email on his iPad. Instead of giving Little Johnny the passcode to borrow it for an hour or so to watch Netflix or play a game, he buys Little Johnny his own iPad so Little Johnny doesn’t delete everything.

I think that’s the inescapable conclusion, @ObjC4Life…

A side effect of this approach: iPads seem closer to being an oversized iPhone, than to being a “peer” of a Mac.

Pierre Lebeaupin

I'd welcome that even for the work/home partitioning need: the currently proposed solutions for that are too heavyweight and inflexible, for instance I may want different "do not disturb" time spans for different apps that are used for work. This also appears to provide cleaner separation of data: I always thought that WhatsApp does not need to know that the person who interacts with my coworkers and the person who interacts with my family members are one and the same.

None of the 8 computers in my dispose (Mac and Linux PC) has more than one account (excluding root and one or two test account).
If it's not a true multi-user server, who would ever bother setting up multiple accounts?
Did average Mac user ever utilizes this feature?

Then, why the most personal devices need to support multiple accounts?
How am I supposed to know if my iPad is now login with other account?
Oh, FaceID/TouchID will be smart enough to switch to my account automatically!
But How long this process will take? Will the switch faithfully duplicated my last session?

Will I eventually hate waiting for the extra time and other inconvenience and just buy another iPad to my wife or kid and at the same time shed the the pain of 'time sharing' of a device?

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