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Android should steal this anti-theft feature from the iOS 17.3 beta

The feature aims to limit what thieves can do with the stolen phone.

Published onDecember 12, 2023

apple iphone 14 pro deep purple
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
  • Apple is rolling out the first iOS 17.3 beta today.
  • The update contains a new anti-theft feature called “Stolen Device Protection.”
  • Stolen Device Protection makes it easier for victims to protect their data and lock thieves out of the stolen phone.

Today, Apple is rolling out a new iOS beta for developers — iOS 17.3. This latest beta from Apple comes with a brand new security feature that Android phone makers should add to their own devices.

Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal highlighted the recent uptick of thieves spying on iPhone users to steal passcodes before stealing the device. With the phone and the passcode at their disposal, thieves can reset the victim’s Apple ID password, turn off Find My, view passwords, and more.

Apple’s iOS 17.3 beta brings a new feature called “Stolen Device Protection” to the iPhone. The feature aims to prevent these problems by limiting what thieves can do with the stolen property.

Once an owner opts into Stolen Device Protection, the handset will ask the user for Face ID or Touch ID authentication if they are outside of a familiar location like home or work. If a Face ID or Touch ID scan is not provided, the person using the phone will be barred from accessing sensitive information or performing sensitive actions. For example, the thief won’t be able to view passwords or passkeys stored in iCloud Keychain, apply for an Apple Card, use payment settings stored in Safari, and so on.

In addition, the feature makes it so there’s a one-hour delay before an Apple ID password can be changed. This makes it easier for the victim to report their phone as missing and have it locked.

In the beta, this feature is found in the Settings under Face ID & Passcode. While developers will see a prompt to test a preview of the feature, this prompt won’t appear in the public release.

While we’ll have to wait and see if Android adopts a similar feature, Google will be addressing as many as 85 vulnerabilities — including several critical and high-severity vulnerabilities — in its next security patch.

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