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Android 15 will make your phone worthless to thieves


Google’s Android 15 operating system update is due this summer and a major focus will be discouraging thieves from stealing it in the first place.

A key feature of the new operating system will be a new private space within your phone that can be locked with a separate pin. You can place your bank apps and social apps there to prevent thieves doing damage by harnessing that data.

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Beyond that, a new factory reset mode will also prevent a thief from quickly performing a factory reset of the phone in order to sell it as a fresh device.

Once Android 15 lands, even a fresh set-up will require the owner’s Google account credentials in order to commence proceedings. In a blog post, Google says this “renders a stolen device unsellable, reducing incentives for phone theft.”

Elsewhere, Google is offering automatic protection from the moment your phone is robbed. Naturally, this Theft Detection Lock feature uses AI to lock the screen when your phone is snatched from you, to prevent ne’er do wells from accessing your apps and data.

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Google says the AI can sense “if someone snatches your phone from your hand and tries to run, bike or drive away. If a common motion associated with theft is detected, your phone screen quickly locks – which keeps thieves from easily accessing your data.”

This sounds like a super useful feature and another example of Google using AI in beneficial, non-threatening ways, which seems to be a theme of Google I/O this year.

Furthermore, the company is including an Offline Device lock that’ll protect your data and lock the screen even when your phone is off the grid. It’ll be handy if a thief tries to stop you remotely resetting your device by taking the device offline.

The company is going a little farther with a Remote Lock feature if your handset has been taken. This will lock the screen without having access to your Google account. If you have your phone number and can answer a quick security question, you’ll be able to “recover your account details and access additional helpful options in Find My Device, including sending a full factory reset command to completely wipe the device.”

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If you do want to disable the handy Find My Device, or change other sensitive device settings you’ll need a PIN, password or biometric authorisation. This is similar to the Stolen Device Protections Apple has introduced this year.

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