Android to get kill switch following success of Apple implementation


A new report indicates U.S. law enforcement officials will announce today that Google and Microsoft will add “kill switches” to their operating systems for mobile devices. The kill switch is meant to serve as an anti-theft measure as it enables consumers to remotely lock smartphones and delete the data off of them if they are stolen. All three major producers of smartphone operating systems had been resisting calls to include the technology in their operating systems until last year when Apple finally cracked and included a kill switch in iOS 7. Since then, Verizon has added a kill switch to Samsung devices sold on their network. 

The change in direction on the part of Google and Microsoft comes after new data shows thefts of iPhones in major cities has fallen dramatically since the implementation of the kill switch. In New York, thefts of iPhones are down 19 percent for January through May of 2014. In San Francisco the rate dropped 38 percent in the first six months after the iOS 7 launch compared to the prior six month period and in London the drop was 24 percent. In stark contrast, New York saw thefts of Samsung devices rise by more than 40 percent while San Francisco and London also saw increases.

According to San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, “These statistics validate what we always knew to be true, that a technological solution has the potential to end the victimization of wireless consumers everywhere.”

While Google and Microsoft move to voluntarily follow the path of Apple in implementing a kill switch, they may only be responding to what they see as inevitable. Several state legislatures and even the U.S. Congress are considering bills to mandate the inclusion of a kill switch.

Although consumers will still have the ability to turn off the kill switch, consumers will begin to see their newly purchased devices coming with the kill switch turned on by default.

source: PC World

About the Author: Jeff Causey

Raised in North Carolina, Jeff Causey is a licensed CPA in North Carolina. Jeff's past Android devices include an HTC EVO, a Samsung Note II, an LG G3, and a Motorola Moto X Pure Edition along with a Samsung Galaxy Tablet 10.1. He currently uses a Samsung Galaxy S8 and (very rarely) a Nexus 7 (2013). He is also using a Verizon-branded Motorola Moto Z Play Droid supplied by his job. Jeff used to have a pair of Google Glass and a Moto 360 Sport in his stable of gadgets. Unfortunately, his kids have all drunk the Apple Kool-Aid and have i-devices. Life at home often includes demonstrations of the superiority of his Android based devices. In his free time, Jeff is active an active runner usually training for his next marathon, owns a MINI Cooper, and plays Dungeons & Dragons. Jeff has three mostly grown kids and a golden retriever.

  • bozzykid

    “All three major producers of smartphone operating systems had been resisting calls to include the technology”
    Actually, I think it was the carriers who resisted the technology. Google had nothing to lose by adding it but carriers make big money on phones being stolen.

    • David Underwood

      They don’t care about phones, they do give them away with plans and they replace them if they are stolen. If they aren’t free they are cheap. It’s the plan that makes them money. I hate plans!

  • BD

    The reason iPhone stolen rates went down is because people don’t look at iPhone the same way they used to. And as samsung/Android sales grow and more people are aware of how good these phones are naturally the number of stolen phones will increase.

    Having a kill switch or not does not induce or deter people to steal phones. Article fail.

    • David Underwood

      I hope it starts wrecking phones so they can’t be used after they get killed. That would stop people from stealing phones in the log run, if people use it. I can see consumers being stupid enough to buy into it even if it’s just google device manager in a new package. People are generally stupid.

  • fredphoesh

    Jeff, you make it sound like Android are now adding this feature because of the success of the feature on iOS. That is pure speculation on your behalf and smacks of an underhand agenda.

  • BIO

    Isn’t that what Android Device Manager is for?

    • David Underwood

      No, they can still gain access to your device and have a new phone/tablet. Device manager only does them a favor and lets you give someone a new device with no locks or security on it. You can’t even track it after it gets wiped. The data is still there too, you can recover it with the help of a pc with any free data recovery software. There are several on the market.