Apple’s new iPhone 5S has hit the headlines for its security features – but Google has quietly improved many of the features built into its Android mobile operating system, according to a report by Android Police.
Crucially, users will now be able to remotely add a password to a lost device, even if it’s locked, or already being used. Android police describe the new feature as “incredibly robust.”
The functionality is now built into Android Device Manager, one of the apps built into any device running Android 2.2 or higher. The tool already lets Android users find and remote-wipe data from any Android cellphone or tablet – but the new option allows users to change the password remotely, even if the phone is being used at the time.
“To activate the Lock and Erase options for your device, go to your device, open the Google Settings app, touch Android Device Manager and select Allow Remote Factory Reset,” Google says. The option is available via the google.com/android/devicemanager where Google will locate registered devices.
Select “Lock” and Google prompts users to add a new password.
“The functionality is incredibly robust,” says Android Police. “Even if you have your device locked with a pattern, PIN, or other method, the Device Manger will instantly override it. You’ll be asked to choose a new password when submitting the lock request, and that’s the code you’ll use to unlock the device when (hopefully) you have it in hand again.”
“This functionality will even turn off the screen if it’s on to get things locked down tight. If the device is in Airplane mode, the lock request will be completed as soon as the device is reconnected.”
Users have to activate the function on their phone – found under Google Settings and Android Device Manager.
Combined with the tracking abilities in Device Manager, provides an extra layer of security – although not a bulletproof one. A detailed ESET guide to how to make your Android device more secure can be found here.
“If you lose your phone or it becomes damaged, have a way to retrieve your contacts, files and other personal information,” says ESET’s Cameron Camp. “There are apps, such as My Backup Pro and Super Back up, that back up your data in case it happens to you.”
ESET Mobile Security offers additional security features such as live anti-malware scans and anti-phishing features.
Author Rob Waugh, We Live Security