Google says next Android version will feature antitheft kill switch

by: Bogdan PetrovanJune 20, 2014

big red button kill switch stop Wikipedia

Smartphones are highly desirable items that pack a lot of value in a small package. In other words, they are ideal goods for thieves and robbers to lift and turn into a nice little profit.

With large proportions of theft incidents now involving a smartphone, federal and state legislators in the US have been pushing for mandatory kill-switches that would render stolen devices useless, thus removing the incentive to steal the device in the first place.

Apple has taken the lead here, by including a kill-switch in iOS 7, and it looks that Google will follow suit soon. Talking to Bloomberg, Google stated that the next version of Android will include a “factory reset protection solution,” in other words, a permanent lock feature that can’t be bypassed with a simple factory reset. Microsoft will implement a similar feature in its own mobile OS, reports Bloomberg.

Google already has a built-in security app in Android Device Manager, which currently allows users to locate their device on a map, ring it remotely, and erase it to protect personal data. But ADM offers no protection against a simple factory reset. When the next version of Android arrives, Google will presumably update ADM to include a kill-switch, with changes to the underpinnings of the OS required to enable the feature.

Back in April, Google agreed to an initiative grouping large phone makers and carriers to implement a kill switch feature in all devices by the middle of 2015. Other companies that signed the pledge include Samsung, HTC, Microsoft, and Apple.

It’s worth noting that the kill-switch feature will probably not render the phone permanently unusable, as owners will be able to restore its functionality in case they recover the device.