Google’s Achilles Heel: It’s All About the (Multiple) Accounts


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Google's Achilles Heel: It's All About the (Multiple) Accounts Listen to this article


If any company wants to go right for the jugular with Google, they should focus on the poor experience of using multiple Google accounts. Google has struggled since inception to get this right. Multiple accounts  kinda work — but only intermittently and awkwardly; add the desperate prompt to create a Google+ account for every email, and it’s chaos.

Problem #1

Android design flaw with Google Authenticator. If you have two factor authentication turned on for your Google Account (everyone should) then it’s virtually impossible to use the Google Authenticator App on your Android phone and enter the authentication code for an account on that same phone in a timely fashion.



Go ahead and try (Tip: The login screen for your Google Account doesn’t come up in the list of open apps, so every time you flip over to authenticator you have to create a new code and those are only good for something like 60 second, and then you begin this “beat the clock” race to re-enter your password and remember the authentication code before you have to start all over).


Yes you can get these codes by SMS, but I’m betting most people give up in frustration before even poking around to see how to do that. And these big companies wonder why we shy away from authentication and use passwords like “123”.

Problem #2


Just about every application you attach as an extension to your Gmail account will try to read your authentication for your currently open Gmail. This causes problems with apps like MightyText and similar which report that they cannot login to whatever account you have open. It doesn’t happen every time you use these apps, but it happens enough that I shy away from using most bolt-ons to Gmail. I find the user experience is sketchy when using multiple Google Accounts.


Problem # 3


I rather like Google+, but I don’t want to manage a separate Google+ account for every single Gmail account that I’m using. Stop telling me to create a fresh Google+ account for each Gmail! A better solution would be to allow me to link an existing “master” Google+ account. Having multiple Google+ accounts is not good for Google; it’s a royal pain to manage, and it confuses those who circle your multiple accounts. Who at Google thought this was remotely a good idea?  My guess is that Google is in a race to report high Google+ adoption numbers which comes at the expense of a poor user experience.

Problem #4


Google presumes that whichever account you login to first is your “default”.  No Google — it just happens to be the first account I logged into. Why can’t I set up my own standard list telling Google what my “master” account should be? Poor Google, they just cannot get out from under this multi-account mess. And why can’t I tell Google which of my Google+ accounts is my primary (only) active Google+ account?


There are more hidden “gotchas” to using multiple Google accounts in the same session. These are only the few that are top of mind this afternoon. Yes there are workarounds, such as using a separate Chrome Canary browser for your second Google account. But, really, by now shouldn’t Google have figured out multiple account management or is this so complex for them that it’s considered a moon shot ?

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About the Author

Wayne Schulz
Wayne is a diehard Android user and consultant specializing in Sage 100 ERP Accounting Software. He lives in Glastonbury CT with his two children. When not helping them with their homework or pushing the latest school fundraiser off on his co-workers, he is active hiking and investigating all manner of technology.