Android Lollipop makes it possible to share your Android Lollipop phones with other users temporally with some restrictions(guest user mode) or for an extended period without restrictions (multiple users mode).
This is a new Android Lollipop feature for phones. For Android tablet, multiple users has been supported since Jelly Bean 4.3.
Most Android phones with Android Lollipop support guest user mode and multiple users, e.g., Nexus devices (Nexus 4, 5 and Nexus 6), Motorola Moto devices (Moto X, Moto X 2nd Gen, Moto G, Mot G 2nd Gen, Moto E, and Moto E 2nd Gen), LG G3, LG G Flex 2, Sony Xperia Z3 and many others.
But Samsung currently does not support this guest user and multiple users feature in the Android Lollipop 5.0 update. For example, the Android Lollipop update for Galaxy S4, Galaxy S5, and Galaxy Note 4, removed this feature for unknown reasons. But they will very likely add this feature in future updates.
What’s the difference between “user” and “account” when talking about Android Lollipop guest user mode and multiple users?
A lot of Android users may get confused on user and account.
In all Android devices, you can have multiple Google accounts (as well as other accounts, e.g., email accounts, Facebook account…..). But these accounts always belong to a user. Normally, you need setup at at least one Google account for the user to use some features.
Before Android Lollipop multiple users were introduced, there is only one user on your phone. So, there is no confusion: all accounts are “yours”.
Now, in your phones with Android Lollipop update, you can have more than one user. You can switch among these users.
Each user owns its own multiple accounts. These accounts are NOT shared among users.
What’s the difference between the Android Lollipop guest user and normal user? Who is the device owner (administrator)?
Android Lollipop Guest user is normally used for sharing the device temporally. There is only one guest user. So, you can continue a guest user session or start a new from scratch when switching to guest user mode in Android Lollipop.
Please note, guest user has similar permissions as other users. Guest user can add Google account to access his own contents and apps, in addition to pre-installed apps. Guest user can set screen lock, but new guest can always start a new session to clean all settings of previous guest users without unlocking the phone.
Normal users (multiple users) have own identification and own storage space. They can set their own screen lock to protect their contents. Normal users have almost identical privileges as device administrator except removing users.
The first user setup in the phone is always the device owner (administrator). Only device owner (administrator) can remove other users.
How to use Android Lollipop guest user mode?
Android Lollipop guest user mode is always available. There is no activation (or deactivation).
Step 1: Go to quick settings panel.
In quick settings panel (if you are not sure about Lollipop quick settings panel, please check this guide.), tap the avatar of current user in top right (as shown below).
Then tap more settings as shown below if you want to enable phone calling features to guest user.
Step 2: Setup guest user features.
You should be directed to Settings—Users page. You can also access this page from Settings, instead of the quick settings panel if you want.
Tap the gear icon next to Guest as shown below.
Drag the switch for Allow phone calls to right to enable this feature for guest user. By default, phone calls are not allowed for guest user.
Once this feature is enabled, the switch will change to blue as shown blow.
Step 3: Enter Android Lollipop guest user mode
In quick settings panel, tap Add guest as shown below. You can also enter guest user mode directly from Settings – Users – Guest.
If there is no saved sessions for guest users, you will see the Switching to Guest screen. It may take from a few seconds to 1 min to enter Android Lollipop guest user mode depending on your phone.
Step 4: Using Android Lollipop guest user mode
Once entering guest user mode, you will get a default home screen.
Guest user can use all pre-installed apps, i.e., apps installed before the owner setup the phone.
Although Android Lollipop guest user can use these pre-installed apps, the data and settings associated with these apps are NOT shared. Each user has own settings and data for the same app. For example, the contacts should be empty for guest user by default.
Android Lollipop guest user can install apps after adding his own Google account as shown below.
Step 5: Exit Android Lollipop guest user mode
When in guest user mode, you can tap the user avatar in quick settings panel. Then tap another user to exit guest user mode as shown above.
Please note, after switching to other users, the setting and data for the guest user is saved in the phone.
How to remove guest user in Android Lollipop?
If you are using other people’s phone as a guest user, it is recommended to remove your account so that all your data and settings are cleared from the phone.
If you simply switch to other user without removing guest user, next time the guest user (maybe someone else) will have the option to continue your session (and therefore access all of your data and settings saved under guest user mode) or start over (to clear the your data and settings).
To remove Android Lollipop guest user apps, data and settings, in the quick settings panel (in guest user mode), tap Remove guest as shown below. This sill remove all apps, data and settings linked to current guest user. Essentially, this removes this guest user. So, the guest user can remove the guest account himself.
Once the Android Lollipop guest user is removed, the phone will switch back to lock screen.
How to add a user to your Android Lollipop devices?
If you want to share the phone with other users for extended time, it is better to create a new user for him so that the user can use it as if it is his own phone.
This is the multiple users feature in Android Lollipop phone. You can add several users as you want.
The user you added will have his own space for app data and personal files. When a single app is shared by you and other users, each of you can only access your own app data and app settings.
To add a user to your Android Lollipop device, please follow these steps.
Step 1: Go to Quick Settings panel
If you are not sure how to access quick settings panel, please read this guide. In short, swipe down from the status bar (top of the screen) with two fingers.
Step 2: Tap avatar for current user in top right.
Step 3: Tap Add user as shown below.
After tapping Add user, your phone screen should indicate it is switching to new user as shown below.
Step 4: Set up new user.
You need confirm to add a new user by tapping OK as shown below.
After a few seconds, you will be redirected to the new user setup page.
Tap the Arrow icon to proceed.
From now on, you can let the user control the process if you want.
When setting up a new user, you can optionally skip the Google account setup so that the user can add it later by himself.
So,in the Add your account screen as shown below, you can ask the user to add his Google account (not yours) if the user is beside you.
If not, you can simply tap skip as shown below. Of course, your Android system will remind you that before adding the Google account, the user cannot access his Google content (quite straightforward).
Next, the user need provide a name so that it can be shown in the user list. Otherwise, you don’t know who is who.
After setting up the user name, tap the Finish button as shown below to set up this user account.
You will see the default screen for this user as shown below. Currently, only pre-installed apps are available. The user can add apps after adding his Google account.
How to switch to other users in Android Lollipop multiple users mode ?
When you have more than one user in your phone, you can switch among users in either of the two locations:
- In the quick settings panel, tap the avatar for current user in the top right, then tap the account which you want to switch to. Please see the image above.
- In Settings –Users. Tap the user name to which you want to switch (as shown in the image below). Current user is always listed in the first.
How to remove users from your Android Lollipop phone?
Please note, only the phone owner can delete other users. Other users are not allowed to remove other users or himself on the phone. Guest user is an exception: it can remove himself.
So, to remove users from your Android Lollipop phone, you need switch to phone owner, which is always indicated in Settings—Users.
In Settings–Users page, tap the gear icon as shown above. This settings (gear icon) is only available for phone owner.
Tap Remove user as shown below.
Tap Delete to confirm the deletion as shown below.
Now, the user is removed from your Android Lollipop powered phone as shown below.
Why I cannot find the option for the restricted profiles in Android Lollipop phones?
Restricted profiles are only available in Android tablets, not phones.
So, in Android Lollipop phones, you cannot create a restricted profile. There is no such an option currently.
What are actually shared among users and what are not shared when using Android Lollipop guest user mode and multiple users?
1. App files are always shared.
Each app has only one copy on the phone. So, any user can upgrade the app and accept new permissions. This is similar to the PC.
2. App data are NOT shared.
Each app has its own settings and user data. These are NOT shared.
For example, there is only one copy of GMail app. But each user can only see emails (and email settings) of his own accounts. He cannot see email or settings for accounts that are under other users.
3. Accounts are NOT shared.
Each user can have a lot of accounts (multiple Google accounts, Facebook account, multiple email accounts..). These accounts are NOT shared. Each user can only access accounts added by him.
4. SD card is always shared.
If your phone has a SD card, and you saved some files in the SD card, or you choose SD card as the photo/video storage location for camera app, these files are shared. In other words, other users can see these files in the SD card.
Do you have any questions of problems on how to use Lollipop guest user mode and manage (and use) multiple users on Android Lollipop phones?
If you encounter any problems or encounter any issues on using Android Lollipop guest user mode, or managing/using multiple users in your Android Lollipop phones, please let us know in the comment box below. The community will try to help you.
For more Android Lollipop guides, please visit on Android Lollipop Guide page.