Home Life & Style Your Android phone is getting a vital free upgrade that thieves will...

Your Android phone is getting a vital free upgrade that thieves will hate


If you have an Android smartphone in your pocket you will soon be getting a huge free upgrade from Google that is designed to keep your data safe from prying eyes and curb potential fraud. The tech giant used its annual conference, Google I/O, to announce a raft of new security features – and the best thing about them is they are coming to millions of Android phones including yours, not just the newest handsets.

The new boost to security is all about protecting your phone from theft. We carry our smartphones everywhere with us and they are infinitely useful, but they also contain sensitive information from banking apps to private messages and photos. Thankfully Google is pushing out several anti-theft software updates soon to all Android devices running versions of Android 10 and newer. Android 10 was introduced in 2019, so this should hopefully mean your phone is covered.

Google says it’s adding a clever ‘theft protection lock’ that can detect if your phone has just been physically swiped from your hand.

“If a common motion associated with theft is detected, your phone screen quickly locks – which helps keep thieves from easily accessing your data,” Google said. The firm will also lock your phone if several PIN attempts are made, or if your phone is disconnected from the network. These are telltale signs that someone is trying to access your phone.

“Theft Detection Lock and Offline Device Lock will be available to Android 10+ devices through a Google Play services update later this year,” Google added. You’ll be able to turn on the new updates easily in your phone’s settings with a few simple taps.

There has been a rise in so-called ‘shoulder surfing’ phone theft in recent months, where criminals will peer over your shoulder to see you typing in your PIN before swiping your phone and gaining access to it. From there, it has been possible to use the same PIN to get access to your banking apps and other private information.

To curb this, you’ll soon be able to turn on an option that will require your biometrics – that’s your fingerprint or face scan – to change things like account or device settings, your PIN, or turning off theft protection. Google reckons this will make it harder for criminals who steal your phone to access your data, but also hope it will deter thieves in the first place once they learn about the updates. Apple has introduced similar biometrics requirements for the iPhone after a sharp increase in phone fraud through PIN numbers.

Google is also making it easier for you to remotely lock or wipe your Android phone if it gets stolen using the Find My Device service that you can access on another device via your Google account. It’ll be easier to verify who you are and wipe your phone remotely even if you can’t immediately remember your Google account password.

While all these upgrades are coming to Android 10 and newer phones, the upcoming Android 15 will also get factory reset protection, which stops thieves being able to set up a device as new if stolen, thus discouraging theft.

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