Best Way to Clone Android Apps to Manage Multiple Accounts

It’s a common practice these days to have multiple accounts for everything from messaging apps to email and ride sharing apps. Done with the intention of separating work data from personal information, it’s clear that more and more people turn to third party solutions to clone apps. Though there are various ways, here is our guide on the best one to manage your multiple accounts seamlessly.

Manage Multiple Accounts on a Single Device

Before we start, let us first understand some basics:

What is App Cloning?

Cloning apps, as the name suggests is the process duplicating an app like Gmail or WhatsApp by putting a different app signature to the clone. This allows the user to maintain separate accounts in each app without having to log out of an account and then sign back in from a different account.

What is Sandboxing?

In cyber security, sandboxing is a method used to separate the data of any app to be sealed off, and inaccessible by other third party apps that are untrusted sources.

What it means, in the context of this article is that you can keep separate apps for contacts, photos and messaging without mixing with your work profile.

What are the current options?

There are multiple apps like Parallel and App Cloner but the most elegant solution is offered by the app Island which is currently free and in beta testing stages.

Related: Use Multiple Gmail Accounts at Once

Why Island this the best way to clone apps?

Island makes use of a feature introduced in Android 5.0 (Lollipop) called managed profiles which allow the user to create sandboxed application clones. This environment is the basis for Android at Work which was introduced along with Android 5.0. Other app cloning apps like Parallel require the user to launch into that app to switch between environments.

The main advantage of using Island is that it doesn’t take up extra space and simply creates a separate data profile. For example, if Contacts app is 40 Mb then its clone will take up no additional space and instead only creates a separate data profile for the other account for storing contact information.

Island user interface

List of Notable Use Cases for the App

  • Use two instances of the same app without doubling your app storage.
  • Freeze apps you don’t use often by selecting the app in Mainland and selecting Greenify (Island is made by the developer of Greenify) to freeze it until you need it again.
  • Prevent permission hungry apps like Facebook from accessing your personal contacts by using a clone to restrict certain permissions like photos, contacts and phone data like call logs.

How to use Island to clone apps

At first launch, you’ll be asked to enable Android for Work and once you grant permission, the app will restart on its own. Once the app launches you’ll be presented with a very simple interface. The top left will show a drop down menu with two options, Island & Mainland.

Mainland is a list of all the apps present in the phone whereas Island contains all the apps that have been cloned. By enabling Android for Work, apps like contacts and Play services are already cloned and can be found on the Island.

To clone the app simply go to Mainland and tap the app you’d like to clone. Then hit the plus icon on the bottom right to clone the app. You can also freeze a cloned app by going to Island, selecting the app and pressing the lock icon near the bottom right corner.

Island app to clone apps

From left to right: Mainland and Island to manage clone apps

Here’s a short demonstration to clone and freeze apps:

Related: Manage Multiple Channels in YouTube

Alternatives that you can try

If you’re stuck using Android 4.0.3 or a version in between 4.0.3 and 5.0, here are two alternatives to clone apps:

App Cloner [Free, contains in-app purchases]
While App Cloner doesn’t function like Island by creating data profiles, it distinguishes itself by offering plenty of customisation features through an in-app purchase.

App Cloner requires an in-app purchase for advanced customisation features

Here’s a list of notable premium features:

  • Offers batch cloning to clone multiple versions of apps
  • Mask Android ID, hide IMEI & Wifi MAC address
  • Ability to block screenshots while using the app
  • Change location
  • Setting brightness or do not disturb during app start
  • App security lock

Parallel Space [Free, contains ads & in-app purchases]
The second alternative, Parallel Space would be my last preference for anyone as it lacks both the features of App Cloner or the simplicity of Island. To make matters worse, users will be constantly bombarded with ads unless a monthly subscription is paid to disable ads.

Another reason to hold off on the app is that unlike the other two apps, it requires the user to launch the cloned apps from the Parallel app since the clones don’t sit in the app drawer.

User interface of Parallel Space which is ad supported

One redeeming feature of this app, for the sake of being neutral, is the ability to customise the spaces inside the app with different themes. The app also supports a security lock feature to protect all the apps in the space.

Although the choices are plenty, I’d like to close by saying that Island offers the best choice for people looking for a simple solution to clone android apps whereas alternatives caters to more advanced users despite requiring an in-app purchase.

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Filed under Android. Posted by Ambariish on 3rd June 2017.

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