Friday, May 24, 2024

Android will be able to detect if your phone has been snatched

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Google is announcing an array of new security features as it releases its second Android 15 beta, including a feature that can detect the moment your phone is swiped from your hands. Some of these updates will be included with Android 15 when it arrives this fall, but theft detection and a number of other features will be available to phones with much older OS versions, too — bringing them to many more people.

Theft Detection Lock works by recognizing the unusual motions that would indicate someone has yanked your phone out of your hand or a table in front of you. To prevent a thief from being able to access information on your device, the screen automatically locks. The system looks for other signals that indicate foul play, too, and will be able to lock the screen for protection if someone tries to take it off the network to prevent remote access.

Google is also introducing a new way to lock your phone screen remotely if it ends up in the wrong hands. By visiting, you can enter your phone number and respond to a security challenge to lock your device — a potentially helpful tool if all you have access to is a friend’s phone in the moment. All of these features will arrive later this year via a Google Play services update for phones running Android 10 or later.

A new feature aims to detect when a thief has taken your phone offline and locks the device.
Image: Google

Android 15 also introduces new security features, including “private spaces,” which let you put apps and information in a separate hidden area on your phone that can be locked with a unique PIN. Google is also adding protections for when a phone is forced to reset, requiring the owner’s credentials the next time it’s set up.

Android’s Play Protect also gets an update designed to protect users from bad actors — it will look at how apps use sensitive permissions on your phone to keep an eye out for signs of phishing and fraud. Potentially malicious apps are sent to Google for further review.

As it did last year, Google’s newest OS version played an ever smaller role in the company’s day one I/O keynote. We’ll hear more about Android 15’s new features over the next few months while it’s in beta, but in the meantime, we love to see so many new features coming to lots of Android phones — not just the ones capable of running the very latest OS version.

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