Android’s new Theft Detection Lock helps deter smartphone snatch and grabs


Imagine you’re minding your own business, sitting on a park bench, looking at your phone. Boom. Someone grabs your device and runs off with it. Android and iOS already have some safeguards in place, but what about those precious few seconds when the handset is still unlocked — can you get your hands on a way to remotely wipe it?

Thieves can access a lot of information in that short time. Every moment counts. Google on Wednesday and at its Google I/O 2024 developer conference announced an upcoming feature for Android called Theft Detection Lock, designed to protect against this growing threat. When triggered, the AI-powered feature will automatically lock the device.

Google notes, “If a common motion associated with theft is detected, your phone screen quickly locks — which keeps thieves from easily accessing your data.” One example of such a trigger is a device that suddenly starts moving quickly in the opposite direction.

Google is also adding an Offline Device Lock feature, designed to protect the device if it’s intentionally disconnected from the network. Things like repeatedly failing to authenticate the phone will trigger that feature.

The future update will also deliver a feature that makes it more difficult for thieves to factory reset your device remotely. “With this upgrade, if a thief forces a reset of the stolen device, they’re not able to set it up again without knowing your device or Google account credentials,” Google says. “This renders a stolen device unsellable, reducing incentives for phone theft.”

Biometric authentication will be required to change sensitive information when the device is logged in from an insecure location.



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