Parallel Space allows you to run 2 Android app accounts at once (review)

For a lot of us, our smartphones live a double-sided life. For some, it’s one life as a business tool (and often provided to us by our employer), and the other life as a personal digital sidekick.

  • Screenshot_2016-08-22-21-56-01The business tool side of our device is all business and allows us to perform our work: responding to emails, reviewing documents, reaching out to important customers and colleagues. It’s our professional assistant, and to reveal any silly, suggestive, or just plain private information would be embarrassing if not outright scandalous.
  • The personal side of our device is our social and fun machine allowing us to connect with other like-minded people and show our individuality, quirkiness, and anything else that we choose to use to reveal about our identity.
  • Multiple logins on a traditional device install can be cumbersome and time-consuming, and often one or more accounts are relegated to desktop-only duty. This negates the utility that your mobile device is meant to bring into your day-to-day in the first place!

For other people, there are simply multiple accounts of certain apps to maintain, and the traditional Android installation only allows for a single login at a time requiring you to re-login with a different username/password every time you want to switch. This can be time-consuming and frustrating.

Now in some cases, these two sides can generally co-exist on the same device. But there are many instances where it would probably be best to let one side dominate and
save the other side for only very private viewing. Or it would just be a heck of a lot easier if you didn’t have to re-login to switch accounts.

Parallel Space 1There is an app that allows you “partition” your device, allowing you to put up a virtual fence between your business and personal sides, or between multiple accounts. This app is called Parallel Space from developer LBE Tech.

Setup

The app is available free from the Google Play Store. To keep things straight from here forward, I’m going to take some artistic license and refer to Parallel Space as a “utility”, to separate it from all the apps you can load into and use within it. As far as the utility itself, that’s all there really is to it, unless you want to password-protect your second login (more on that in a moment).

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Experience

Once into the utility (it has an app-like icon on your homescreen), you are shown a blank tiled screen. Each tile represents an app that you have multiple logins to load into Parallel Space. Once you select the app, it appears in that tile. The first time you select that app, you are greeted with that app’s signup/login screen the same as if you were opening the app for the first time on its own.

Screenshot_2016-08-22-21-59-48Here you log in with your second account login info and from there, you are launched into that app with the same look, feel, and screen space as the original app that you previously loaded directly onto your device! When done, you just close the app like normal, and you then can go back to Parallel Space to open another app using a secondary account or go back your device’s native homescreen to use the app with your primary account.

Overall, it’s a pretty slick experience especially if you run corporate social media accounts but also have personal accounts in the same app. Short of having a second phone or laptop at the ready, Parallel Space is a pretty neat solution.

It’s a pretty light one memory-wise, too. All you really load onto your device is the Parallel Space utility itself (total claimed space of 84 MB on my device); the secondary app ‘installations’ happen on the utility’s virtualization engine. All this means you don’t get bogged down with double Facebook apps and background activities clogging up your memory.

Screenshot_2016-08-22-22-00-29This talk of providing login info and 3rd-party virtualization engines does bring up the question of security. On the utility’s server-side, all I can offer is that the utility boasts almost a million downloads in the Play Store, and I can’t find an incident of a security breech anywhere on the web.

As far as security on your device, you are provided an option if you choose to use it. You can secure your overall utility access with it’s own password, which is a handy way of “locking the gate” to all your secondary app accounts. You can also manage notifications for each of your secondary accounts to ensure nothing “pops up” that you’d rather not be seen.

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Caveats

There are a few caveats here that I see, though I personally don’t find them major.

First is some reported problems with battery drain. It is enough of a problem that the utility’s developer addresses it on their website’s FAQ page where it’s related to a first-time login to your Google account with the utility essentially confusing the Google Play service framework.

Second is an occasional speed issue when opening your secondary app account through the utility. The little opening animation can seem to get stuck for a few seconds. Nothing terrible, but long enough that you may start giving your screen the evil eye….though this may likely be a testament to our fickleness than the utility’s performance (how DARE you make me wait 3 seconds to see who’s DM’d me!).

Third is that you can’t add a second app account into Parallel Space if you have or need quick access to three or more accounts. The utility simply can’t run multiple accounts within itself (which sounds kind of ironic).

Conclusion

Simply put, I really enjoyed using Parallel Space as a true Android “utility” that makes my device so much more usable when it comes to using and managing multiple app accounts, especially social media. If you have succumbed to the idea of doing the logout/login dance with any given app on your device, I heartily recommend Parallel Space to alleviate your pain and make your day just a little smoother.

Download Parallel Space from the Google Play Store here.