New Android 4.2 features unveiled: gallery changes, multi-user accounts and parental controls

by: Chris SmithOctober 20, 2012

We already (think we) know that Google will unveil the LG Nexus 4 running Android 4.2 on October 29 and launch the new products in the weeks thereafter, but until Google takes the stage at its upcoming media event we’ll keep looking at current rumors and reports detailing these products.

In earlier posts we looked at various Android 4.2 features, such as the new notification settings, the Gmail 4.2 app that was later pulled by Google and a variety of security features that could be found in Google’s upcoming Android version.

Now we have more Android 4.2 features uncovered coming via the same source, Android Police, that continued to dig for more details in the Android 4.2 version it got to play with. In its latest report, the publication details new gallery changes, multi-user accounts and parental controls.

Like with the previous set of features, it’s not yet clear whether these features will be indeed found in the final version of Android 4.2, but it’s still worth taking a look at them.

The gallery and camera apps are apparently getting new icons, although the graphics found in this Android 4.2 build are not final. More importantly, the gallery app is getting a makeover, although when it comes to functionality, things appear to be exactly the same as in Jelly Bean:

The Gallery is getting a reskin! It’s still a rough work in progress, but we can at least see what direction they’re going in. Albums have a polaroid-style bottom white label (which matches the new icon!) and the background is a light-gray color [see left screenshot in the image above]. Everything else about the Gallery is exactly the same. And when I say exactly the same I mean exactly the same. You can’t delete Picasa/G+ photos, there are no new editing options, you still can’t rotate with a gesture, and Instant Upload Albums are still capped at 500. In its defense, it isn’t anywhere near finished – in fact, they haven’t even incremented the version number. 1.1.40000 is the same as the Jelly Bean version. It’s promising that they’re looking at it.

In case taking pictures on your Android device isn’t that important, especially if it’s a tablet, then you’ll be happy to hear that Google is apparently working on multi-user accounts, which is definitely good news for tablet owners. According to Android Police, there’s evidence in the Android 4.2 version it tested that Android 4.2 will support multiple users. Various apps have permissions that reveal the multiple users features including the Phone, Setting and SystemUI.

Even the Google Play Store will keep track of what apps are installed for each user, showing the relevant ones for each one.

One of the perks of a system that has multi-user support is that it can offer parental controls. Apparently Android 4.2 will also offer this feature, which will allow parents to control the activity of their children on Android devices, especially when it comes to getting new content from the store – purchasing can be blocked with a PIN and downloads censored depending on their rating.

We’ll be back with more Android 4.2 details once we have them. Meanwhile, let us know what you’d like to see Google announce in just over a week from now.

  • Sabri Monaf Sabri

    I call bullshit on the Gallery app, if it was really a system app it shouldn’t be uninstallable!

    • You obviously don’t know what rooting and .APK file are.

    • YusufIslam

      Maybe the whole point of this is to make it a separate app for you to get from google play like the google calendar for instance

  • zev

    in a final android 4.2 version maybe..

  • AndroidBrian

    Recent apps better have a remove all function or I’m going to be pissed. That could be the only new function and I’ll be happy

    • YusufIslam

      To kill or to just empty the tray??

      • AndroidBrian

        What do u men to kill or empty the tray. Removing apps from recent apps does kill them. So I guess my answer is both. Touch Wiz and Sense has remove all feature. Don’t get why nexus users still have to swype each one away.

        • YusufIslam

          I just tried it now. You’re right I just noticed it now, on ICS it didn’t actually kill the application looks like it’s done on JB so I understand your idea :)

          • AndroidBrian

            Lol, yeah I tried it out before I replied to your message.

        • wow that damn typing feature has screwed up your spelling its swipe not swype thats a type prediction technology availabe on certain phones

          • AndroidBrian

            I deserve that. Just read my previous post and it does have a butt load of typos. But your still a lopp for pointing it out.

        • Ronald Andrew

          recent apps are already killed. just recent and last state.

          • AndroidBrian

            Um….. No there not.

    • Nathaniel Hourt

      I don’t forsee Google adding this, as doing it is really a bad idea. It serves no useful purpose, wastes battery and makes your phone slower. For more info, do see
      The only reason you should be manually killing apps is if they’re misbehaving.

      • AndroidBrian

        Not trying to be rude but what the hell are u talking about? Bottom right hand home key shows recent apps and you have to swipe them away. Simply suggesting they provide a way to swipe them all at once.

        • Matt Hughes

          i dont see why people are still infatuated with killing apps, the only time i do is when i notice the phone warm after installing a new app and my battery lasts a good day and a half. the way android works you dont need to kill the apps, the only thing youre doing is losing your last state the app was in.

          • Peterson Silva

            You’ve never laid your hands on a low-end phone, have you? :)

          • lexter99

            Hmmmmm…. no he’s right! Sorry, being a ‘low end’ phone only makes killing apps even worse. Try following the link to understand why. Unfortunately this is a self reinforcing fallacy.
            Ask yourself what do you think it achieves? If your answer is freeing up memory then you are half way to understanding why you shouldn’t be doing this. Android already does this automatically. But it does it intelligently based on which apps are not doing anything and haven’t been used recently and are consuming memory etc. You are doing it on arbitrarily. Each one you kill that didn’t need to be chews up CPU and battery and slows the whole device down when it next has to start it. Everything else is perception bias from you.
            Be clear, unless an app is definitively misbehaving you should never close it. And if it is misbehaving by far the best approach is to find another app.

          • Peterson Silva

            Hmmm ok, got it. Thanks for explaining =]

        • Ronald Andrew

          I can clear this up. Recent apps are already killed. Just recent and last state. Matt has the right idea. Infatuated? hmm… jj

          • lexter99

            Again, sorry, that’s not correct. But to understand it fully you need to understand the difference between the ‘app’ and the ‘activities’.
            Anything in the Recent Apps (not current) list is still ‘running’ in the sense they are still in memory (but they aren’t actually doing anything, therefore not consuming CPU/battery)
            These entries relate to the Activities – you can think of these as ‘windows’ that the app has opened, all the buttons and content on those windows, and the code related to the UI to those windows. However, any not currently on screen are frozen which is why they consume no CPU/Battery.
            When you jump back to one of those Recent Apps, it unfreezes the activities, and the process behind those windows continues where you left off.
            Killing/swiping these activities does not kill the app’s process, it merely means that when you go back to the app it has to start from the beginning and doesn’t resume where you left off, but the process can rebuild that position if the developer wants to – in these situations you will end up where you were, but will probably witness it rebuilding. Other apps will simply restart at the beginning as if you were opening the app for the first time.
            BUT, the app’s process (and any services) were in memory all the time. The swipe only ‘closes’ the ‘windows’ that it was using.
            This is useful if you have a buggy app that messes up its own interface – can’t think of an example, but this would sweep away all the windows and force the app to start again (either from the beginning or rebuild the position you were up to, if that’s how the dev coded it)
            Actually killing the app means killing it in the app settings menu just as it used to be done.
            Tricky thing to remember though is, just like killing an app’s activities doesn’t kill the process behind them, similarly killing the process from the settings menu doesn’t kill the activities! Restarting that process will usually still start up where you left off as it will simply pick up the old activities again. This is what Android does all the time. When an app goes ‘off screen’ the activities save their state and the process is essentially suspended (any ‘multi tasking’ would usually be done through a service, although a process in some circumstances can continue doing work in the background, but the activities are frozen.
            Because the activities’ state is saved and frozen, Android can terminate the app process with impunity if it needs to reclaim RAM. Knowing that when the user wants to return to the app, the process will restart (there’s also an abstraction here between the Dalvik JVM and the process, but that’s getting a bit pointy-headed!) and pick up where it left off with the saved activities.
            That’s the beauty of the system – apps remain ‘in core’ all the time, ready to do work, either interactively for the user, or in the background ‘multitasking’ but their memory can be reclaimed without the user loosing anything, so that other apps can do work.

            Google were effectively forced into providing this swipe functionality in an attempt to dissuade the use of Task Managers, which are universally bad! Automatically killing swags of apps is detrimental to the system, CPU, speed, battery, everything. It is only emulating what Android is doing all the time anyway, but Android as the system can do it intelligently, whereas Task Managers very rarely do. In theory at least, you could potentially code a task manager to do it intelligently as well, but that would only be of use if you had a specific algorithm in mind that you preferred over the default Android one. I strongly suspect that is not the case in the vast majority of Task Manager users! And if it was, you would be better off rooting your device and modifying Android’s app management fine tuning parameters to suit your needs, rather than overlaying another task manager on top and having them fight each other… fight fight fight!

        • cphilano

          When you hit the current apps button there is a an icon at the top right that allows you to close all of these apps at once.

  • splunk splunk

    Can we please get animated gif support in the native gallery app?

  • Super2cool

    Only if my phone would get ICS

  • Muhammad Saleem

    Well it will be nice, if there is a tutorial for avg. users. Like how to add widgets, create new folders…
    I m not that tech master, but still have lot of interest and managed to learn these things.
    On the other hand, I believe lot of people must be facing great difficulties.

  • Noel Scerri

    I really wish to have multiple selection when uninstalling apps.

  • Fred Fudpucker

    I won’t care about Android 4.2 until such time that Samsung get of their lazy arses and release 4.1.

  • Ronald Andrew

    “Recent Apps” has plenty of room for a few buttons. Three to be exact. One to “remove all”, one to “remove *untagged” and one to “select tagged”. The tagged ones stay tagged and therefor aren’t removed when I “remove untagged”. Therefore I’ll only be left with the apps I want to use.

  • Shane H

    I have a Samsung galaxy nexus running 4.1.2, all I ask for in 4.2 is bug fixes so I can use the recents feature without then suffering loss in keyboard sensitivity, have my keyboard stop crashing on me and no longer suffer with intermittent network loss.

  • What will they think of next?!?

  • ThanosS

    Tout les “nouvelles” fonctions existent déjà sur CyanogenMod9