Google Is Rolling Out Some Great Privacy Features to Android This Year

Google Is Rolling Out Some Great Privacy Features to Android This Year

Android 15 is in the works over at Google HQ, and there are plenty of changes to look forward to. But in my view, the best part of future Android updates aren’t some flashy new features: Instead, I’m most excited for these new security features that should make everybody’s Android phones safer.

Private space

“Private space” is a new security feature in Android 15 that lets you hide apps containing sensitive information from view of the home screen or app drawer. This is an awesome change: Whether you’re handing your unlocked phone to a friend, or someone cracks your PIN and goes snooping through your apps, any programs you designate to the private space will be hidden from view.

This is a great idea for financial apps, like banking and money-transfer apps, but also for apps containing private information. Perhaps you want to keep certain messaging apps out of sight, or a particular files app from your public screen.

Even better, notifications from apps you place in your private space are hidden as well. That way, no one will see when someone has sent you a message if that messaging app is in private space, nor will they see any alerts from your bank.

By default, private space lives at the bottom of the app drawer, but you can choose to hide it from view entirely as well. Either way, you can set a new PIN for private space that’s separate from your phone’s passcode. That way, even if someone breaks into your Android, they won’t know the PIN for private space, and all the apps therein will be protected.

Theft Detection Lock

I have to say, Google really upped the ante with Theft Detection Lock: This feature can detect when someone takes your Android out of your hand, and either runs, bikes, or drives away with it. Google actually worked to figure out each “common motion associated with theft” in order to build that sense in Android.

Once your Android does detect a theft, it locks itself right up. For the most part, thieves need your Android unlocked in order to access the phone and its data. Unless they were sly enough to spot your PIN before taking the phone, a locked phone is essentially useless.

If a thief does manage to take your phone without detection, Android has some other tools this year: If the thief disconnects the phone from the internet, theft protection may kick in and lock the phone. If they fail to enter your PIN too many times when trying to access sensitive settings, the phone will also lock.

This one isn’t an Android 15 exclusive, either: As long as you’re running Android 10 or newer, you can access it.

Authentication lock, à la Apple

Google is adding one of Apple’s best security features to Android this year: authentication lock. This security measure ensures that even if a thief is able to force a factory reset on your stolen Android, they won’t be able to proceed with set up without providing the credentials for the Google Account connected to the device. (Now that Android has authentication lock, by the way, there may be a rise in a common scam on stolen phones and devices. Don’t fall for it.)

Extra security steps, à la Apple

Google is also adding another great Apple security feature to Android: When you disable Find My Device or extend the time before your screen automatically locks, Android will require your phone’s passcode or biometric authentication before proceeding. In addition, “enhanced authentication” requires biometric authentication when you try to change “critical settings” on your Google Account or device. That includes when changing your PIN, disabling theft protections, or trying to access your passkeys from a new location.

It’s similar to Apple’s Stolen Device Protection, which requires a Face ID or Touch ID scan when accessing certain sensitive settings.

Remote Lock in Find My Device

Let’s say your phone is stolen, and you can’t remember your Google Account password in order to lock the phone via Find My Device. Google’s new Remote Lock feature lets you lock your phone by providing your phone number and authenticating yourself on another trusted device. From here, you can remotely reset your phone if you want to ensure no one can access its data. This feature will be available on Android 10 and newer later this year.

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