A Closer Look at Android 4.3’s ‘Restricted Profile’ Feature

A Closer Look at Android 4.3’s ‘Restricted Profile’ Feature

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has unveiled Android 4.3, the company’s popular mobile operating system, and with it comes some new functionality and performance improvements. Nexus 4 users have already got the new update, and the new second generation Nexus 7 will come shipped with Android 4.3, hence no update required on the new device.

For those who don’t know, Android 4.3 comes with features like restricted profiles, Bluetooth smart technology which is also known as Bluetooth Low Energy that enables users to pair their Android devices with low powered devices like fitness sensors, Open GL support for accelerated 3D graphics, and more.

What is Android 4.3’s ‘Restricted Profile’ feature

Android 4.2 had the ability to add a second user profile to tablets (much like multi-user accounts), and now with version 4.3, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) introduces restricted profiles feature. Basically it means that you (device owner) can control which apps and its feature can the restricted user use. This feature is mostly targeted towards parents who want to hand over their tablet to their kids, but want to provide restricted control to them. For example, this feature can prevent the user (or kid) from in-app purchases, but there’s much more to that.

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A Closer Look at Android 4.3's 'Restricted Profile' Feature

“Parents can have peace of mind about which family members can access what content and which apps,” Google’s Hugo Barra said.

Before you get excited, note that this feature is limited to tablets only. Don’t go looking for this feature on your Nexus 4 or any other smartphone.

  • You can use restricted profiles for several purposes like:
  • Parental controls. Selectively restrict family members from accessing mature content.
  • Kiosk. Set up the tablet to demonstrate selected apps and features to customers.
  • Retail. Let customers explore tablet features, but prevent them from browsing or playing games.
  • Point of sale. Limit employees to the use of selected sales and register apps.

How to use Android 4.3’s restricted profile feature

To use this feature in your Android 4.3, go to Settings > Users > Add user or profile. Choose restricted profile and then secure your lock screen if you haven’t already done that. Tap on “New Profile” to add a new profile with complete details.

Using the sliders, you can enable or disable access to apps. Tap on settings icon next to some apps to delve deeper and control in-app settings.

The problem with this feature

All this might sound exciting, right? But there are some problems related to this feature. Firstly, it’s the app developers who have to integrate the API with their apps. It’s the developers that decide whether their app will support “restricted features” or not. For example; app developers can decide whether his app should offer an option to restrict mature content or not. A game might or might not allow the tablet owner to disable in-app purchases using this restricted profiles feature.

Well, the problem is that supporting this feature requires extra work from the developer. In some cases, they might get greedy and won’t offer minute controls over the app – for example, they might not add the option to disable in-app purchases by the owner. To opt or support this feature or not is entirely up to app developer’s wish!

In simple sense, restrictions are built in apps, and not in platform. Now this is a BIG problem, because Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is leaving everything to the developers. But Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has at least put a foot forward in this path – while we still don’t see any such multiple user accounts offering on iOS. For iOS, it still means you got to buy a new tablet for your kid, while yours remain in a safe place.

Is Google following the right path or should Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) have implemented this feature in some other way? Thoughts?

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