One of the latest iterations of the OnePlus OxygenOS Beta program has released and includes a handy feature called Parallel Apps. What this feature does is enable you to run a cloned version of the same app, using different account credentials. What does that mean? You can run concurrent instances of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other apps, with two different account credentials. This is a boon for users who want to, say, use an app for both personal and business reasons. Granted, this isn't like an Android at Work or any other app that sandboxes work apps from personal apps (to better secure company data/information), but it's very handy for app power users. Of course, I must reiterate, this isn't about security; it's about efficiency. Keep that very much in mind when using Parallel Apps with work accounts.
With that said, let's see how you can make use of Parallel Apps on your OnePlus device.
There isn't any installation to be had for this feature. You do have to be running a version of OxygenOS OP3_02_Open_24_0920 or better. If you're interested in getting on board the OnePlus OxygenOS Beta program, just follow the instructions on the OpenBeta site. Once you have procured the latest beta on your device, your OnePlus smartphone should include Parallel Apps.
One word of warning: This feature only works if you're using the OnePlus Launcher. If you're using any other home screen launcher, you will not have access to the launchers for the Parallel Apps.
Open up the Settings app and then tap Apps | Parallel Apps. The resulting window will include a list of the apps, installed on your device, that can be cloned (Figure A).
To clone an app, tap the On/Off toggle and the app will clone. Once you've cloned an app, leave the Settings window and return to your home screen. Open up your App Drawer and locate the icon for the cloned app. You will now see two versions of the app (Figure B), the standard icon and a cloned icon that includes a gold circle.
Tap to launch the Parallel version of the app and you will be prompted to log in with different credentials than the original. It's that simple.
There is one issue you must know about. This isn't a flaw or a bug, but by design. If you go back to Settings | Apps | Parallel Apps and disable the Parallel App, it will delete all data from the cloned version of the app. The original app data will remain untouched, but all cloned data will be lost. Theoretically speaking, you could use that as an advantage. Clone an app, log in with your business account, use the app, and then delete the clone.
Another possible way to hide the Parallel Apps would be to create app clones, use them, and then switch home screen launchers. When you need to use the cloned app, switch back to the OnePlus launcher and work with the cloned app. When you're done, switch back to an alternative home screen launcher. It's not perfect, but it's a good way to obfuscate those cloned app launchers from sight.
A handy feature for some
Parallel Apps isn't a feature for everyone. In fact, most people only have a need to use one account per app. But if you happen to fall into that category of user who might require working with multiple instances of an app (and don't want to in and out every time), Parallel Apps is for you.
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.