Even though Google is attempting to conceal the intriguing consumer-facing features from this early release (either because they are incomplete or in preparation for a significant I/O reveal), the Internet is still finding intriguing features. Android 14 Preview 1 was released yesterday. Mishaal Rahman, a writer for XDA, was able to enable App Cloning, a new feature that was apparently hidden in the Preview 1 build that was available for download.
You can use two copies of the same app with different data thanks to this feature, which makes use of Android’s multi-user system and lets you log in with different accounts for each. Even though some apps don’t support multiple accounts, this feature would make all apps support multiple accounts. Having multiple accounts would also be much more consistent because every app would be able to handle them in the same way, with one icon for account number one and another for account number two. Under the hood, the feature sounds a lot like Android for Work, except that you don’t have to set up a Work Profile and can choose which apps you want to duplicate.
This feature is being incorporated into Android as part of the standard upstream process, as you may have noticed it in some Android skins and third-party applications. “we see a paradigm in the wild, we take it, we learn about it, we make it safer, and then we contribute it back to the framework for everyone to use in Android,” Android System UI lead Dan Sandler once explained at Google I/O.
There are numerous aspects of this feature that are not yet finished. Other than going through the obscure process of finding the appropriate settings screen, there is no clear way to create a cloned app. Once you’ve done that, Android’s launcher won’t be able to tell the cloned apps from the original ones because the icons will all have the same name. The duplicate work icons in Android for Work are given a briefcase badge, but there is nothing like that here.
This feature has one major drawback: Android OEMs can choose which apps use the cloning feature, which hopefully won’t be misused without a good reason. Android developers have been working on cloned apps for some time. The Android 13 Compatibility Definition Document calls for a “cloned apps profile,” which implies that you can only create one additional cloned app. The feature is actively being developed, but it is uncertain whether it will be ready for Android 14’s release in the second half of the year.