One reader would like to know whether he/she can use separate Google account for his/her different Android devices. Seems simple enough, right? The purpose, as the reader explains, is to keep the information on one device, a personal device, separate from the information on another device, work-related. The simple answer is, yes. My response though is, why? Multiple accounts on each device saves time and money.

However, I could envision the following scenario:

BigLaw attorney gets a law firm-issued Android smartphone and company requires “separateness.” Lawyer then uses BigLaw salary to purchase a high-end Android tablet for personal use. BigLaw also uses Google Apps to manage its email, and coincidentally, so does BigLaw lawyer, except he/she uses Gmail. IT department sets up the smartphone, and downloads some “useful” apps. BigLaw lawyer sets up his/her tablet, and does the same thing. There you have “separateness” between the two Android devices. And then I realized this scenario was nuts because BigLaw lawyer would always choose iPhone and iPad for prestige, over Android for usability.

Maintaining “separateness” using different Google accounts isn’t difficult, it’s just insane. Having to check one’s phone rather than a tablet for email messages is time-consuming and redundant. Moreover, having to purchase the same app twice for each device is wasteful.

Here’s how I handle “separateness” to segregate three Google accounts and display only the information I want.

First, add all of your Google accounts to your Android devices (menu > settings > Accounts & sync). I use a “private” Google account and two “business” Google accounts. Click on the account you want to manage. You’ll see a list of options to manage. Decide what information and data you want to synchronize on the Android device. Obviously the more boxes you check, the more data you will sync.

Since I don’t mind receiving email messages on both devices, I enable email sync on my tablet and phone for all email accounts. If you were wanting to separate the two devices, disable syncing for that account on the device. You can do the same for contacts, photos, Google Reader, calendar, etc. I choose to sync only one calendar and one set of contacts for one of my “business” accounts. If you saw each of my accounts, you’d see fewer checked boxes.

For apps, I choose to purchase and install apps with my “private” account. Since I have all of my devices synced with this account, all of my purchased apps become available for download and installation on every device. Thus, I save money. I suppose you could set up a totally separate Google account that syncs nothing to your Android device, but maintains all of your purchased apps, with pin code protection for app purchases. I would think this might be a good option for parents who want to allow their kids to use their devices, without the worry of a huge bill from purchasing apps.

Google account sync is awesome, especially when you lose data, get a new phone, or have to factory reset your device. Your information syncs seemlessly to your Android phone or tablet.


Jeff Taylor

I'm just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I'm also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.

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