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.

Bogdan Petrovan
Bogdan is the European Managing Editor of Android Authority. He loves tech, travel, and fantasy. He wishes he had more time for two of those things. Bogdan's phone is a Nexus 6P.